The Hero Within
All of us possess within us the possibility to be a hero to someone. Whether we are young or old, we all can come to the aid of another, and in most cases, when we reach out and touch another life, we also walk away affected in some way. Two great examples given to us in film are two movies produced by the great film maker, Steven Spielberg. “E.T.” and “Schindler’s List” are both critically acclaimed movies with two unlikely heroes. One, a small boy dealing with heartbreak over his parent’s divorce reaches out and helps someone quite different than him, and in the process, he is helped through his own hard time. The second, a man who has always looked out for number one has a change of heart and helps to save the lives of hundreds. From both of these completely different movies about totally different people, we will look at how regardless of age or social standing, one can reach out to others. Consequently, touching someone else’s life in either a small or large way changes a person, and ultimately, each of us contains a hero within.
In the movie “E.T.,” we are introduced to a young boy Elliott who discovers a “munchkin-scaled botanist from a distant galaxy who disperses to collect plant specimens.” He is mistakenly left behind by his spaceship crew members and is taken home by Elliott. Elliott and E.T., as the alien is called, quickly become friends and Elliott sets out to help E.T. find a way back home. Here is a little boy going through a hard time since his father has left and he reaches out to help someone that is in every way different from him. In, “Schindler’s List,” we also see someone reaching out to a group of people that are considered different. Schindler, a wealth business man during World War II, hires Jews to work in his factory that produces cooking utensils for the Nazis. He first hires the Jews because they are cheap labor, but sometime during the movie, (we are not told why or how) he has a change of heart and then continues to hire Jews, which saves them from the death camps. Both of Spielberg’s movies portray young and old people, from different social standings: Elliott, a kid from a single parent home and Schindler, a rich business man. Whether helping someone to find their way home or something as great as saving lives, both main characters are seen as heroes in their own right.
As we watch these two “heroes” reach out to help others, we see that each are changed in some way by their actions. Elliott reaches out to help E.T. and in doing so pulls the family together that was drifting apart, due to the father running off with another woman. In some way, Elliott and his brother and sister need to focus on something else to forget all the tension in the house. E.T. definitely gives them something else to focus their attention on as he…”moves into the house, and the center section of the film is an endless invention on the theme of an extra-terrestrial's introduction to bedrooms, televisions, telephones, refrigerators and six-packs of beer.” We see a much more dramatic change in the character Schindler, who goes from a selfish man to a very caring, generous man at the closing scene of the movie. The closing scene is the most moving as Schindler prepares to leave Germany, which is no longer Nazi occupied Germany, and he is surrounded by the Jewish workers that he has saved. As he bids them farewell, the Jewish workers from his factory give him a letter which will allow him safe passage and a ring that is engraved with the Talmudic quotation, “Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.” Then Schindler sees his luxurious car and is consumed with guilt as he realizes he could have saved more people by selling his car, he then pulls the Nazi Party pin from his lapel, and cries, "This pin. Two people. This is gold. Two more people. Here one sees a much different man, the viewer no longer sees someone who is living for himself, but a man who has made it a mission to save another’s life.
Both of these movies have shown us that no matter who we are we can be a hero to someone, and in most cases… “The unlikeliest heroes are often the greatest.” In the case of Elliott, he reached out to someone who was very different from himself and helped him to get home. To E.T., Elliott was a hero; Elliott looked beyond the differences and his fear. In this action, both discovered a friend. If we all could be like Elliott and not fear the unknown or unfamiliar, maybe we could be seen as someone’s hero. Schindler gives us a deeper look at stepping out to save someone’s life; the life changing effect can happen to the one doing the saving. In watching these movies, we learn that when we reach out to touch someone else’s life, our lives can also change in the process and we understand the value of life. We all have a hero within; the hero within can be a good example to those younger ones in our care, reach out to the needy in our community, encourage someone to continue on when they want to give up, or do something as small as babysitting for a single mom who needs a break. Any of these things can be seen as heroic by the person receiving the kindness. We may never be in a situation, such as Schindler’s, to be able to save the lives of hundreds. We may also never be given an opportunity, such as Elliott’s to help someone from distant land. But, if we look around and take notice of our surroundings and those in our world we may be given a chance to show our hero within.