As the famous American writer Napoleon Hill said, “Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” Our journey through life is hard and full of variety; there are often obstacles to face and time and again we hear that nothing worth having comes easily. So how can you realize success in life? Resilience and persistence seem to underlie many of our successes, but what does this embody? Throughout our global narrative and in our own personal histories many triumphs come from overcoming struggles, demanding change and fighting for rights. With art imitating reality we use cinema to tell the stories of our lives…
Demanding what isn’t Freely Given
It should be a thing of the past but it is still experienced today, prejudice has to be fought in order to flourish. Perseverance against inequality is essential. There are two fantastic films showing the fight against prejudice. In the Great Debators (2007) Melvin B Tolson, a professor at Wiley College Texas inspires some of his students to start a debate team. Their long road to success is marred with bigotry, discrimination and harassment but they ultimately emerge victorious. Based in 1935 the team beat racial prejudice to go on and challenge Harvard in the national championship. Similarly in Men of Honour (2000) his courage to fight the prejudices stacked against him and finally succeed is another great tale of a man fighting prejudice with persistence. It is the tale of the first African American, and the first amputee US Navy Diver, Carl Brashear.
Struggling for a change in Circumstance
To be successful in business or a career involves starting at the bottom to work up to the top. Every self-starter will have to persist and struggle to change their circumstances. An inspirational example can be found in the film The Pursuit of Happiness (2006). An unsuccessful salesman is given a chance fights for success on a life changing internship all the while looking after his son. He becomes homeless and still fights on, teaching his son that even when your circumstances are dire; there is still a round to be won. Persistence once again results in a winning change of circumstance and this wonderful film based on a real story shows that if you want something and work hard enough you will succeed.
Sacrificing for Rights and Democracy
The road to equal rights, democracy and civil liberties is not an easy one. History teaches that social equality has had to be fought for. A stirring tale about family sacrifice for a higher cause is shown in The Lady (2011) in a background of political turmoil the story of Aung San Suu Kyi and her fight for democracy in Burma is an exciting one. It tells the tale of persistence to achieve justice while showing the epic love story between her and her husband, whom she was separated from while she stood up for what she believes in. Women’s rights have taken time, effort, determination and doggedness to achieve. Iron Jawed Angels (2004) tells the story of a small group of women led by Alice Paul (Hilary Swank) and her friend Lucy Burns (Frances O’Connor), who put their lives on the line to fight for American women’s right to vote. They sacrifice their health, marriages and limited freedom they had. They are imprisoned and force fed when they go on hunger strike. They persist and live to see the results of their fight. Now thanks to these brave heroes of democracy women have the vote in the USA and Burma is approaching a democratic state.
Fighting in Fiction
Following real life struggles there are also those in fiction to consider. A lot can be learned from rags to riches tales where an everyday character overcomes obstacles in life and goes the distance.
Slumdog Millionaire (2008) is a beautiful and vivid cinematic piece which tells the tale of Jamal Malik, an orphan from the slums Mumbai. He perseveres against poverty, criminal gangs and people determined to hinder him, in a fight for love. Equally poignant is the story of a small time boxer who is given a rare chance to fight the heavy-weight champion which is told in Rocky (1976). In the end it is their resolve that makes both characters winners in their stories. These movies may not be based on actual characters but they symbolise persistence shown in everyday life.
Resilience is about coping with stress and adversity while trying to reach your goals. Persistence is the fight to achieve something no matter what obstacles you come across. Many times our greatest movies underscore that persistence is the key in the pursuit of happiness and success in life.