"The Legend of Bagger Vance"

For years "The Legend of Bagger Vance" (2000) has been one of my favorite movies.  

This major motion picture was directed by Robert Redford, and is the story of a young golf hero of the South who returns from World War I a very disillusioned veteran.  Captain Rannulph Junah (Matt Damon) reluctantly agrees to play in a golf tournament against Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen, both world class champions, that was organize by his pre-war sweet heart, Adele (Charlize Theron). He finds the game frustrating and his endeavor futile until his caddy, Bagger Vance (Will Smith), teaches him the secret of finding his own "Authentic Swing", which turns out to be the secret to mastering any challenge and finding the meaning in life.

The plot is roughly based on the Hindu sacred ancient text the Bhagavad Gita, where the Warrior/Hero Arjuna (R. Junah) refuses to fight. The god Krishna appears as Bhagavan (Bagger Vance) to help him to follow his path as the warrior and hero that he was meant to be. 

Now that I've been studying Joseph Campbell, I can see that the plot also parallels Campbell's "Hero's Journey" to a T.  Campbell has always said that the Hero's and Heroine's Journey is a map of the universal human journey that we are all on, merely by being a human being.

In watching the movie for about the fifth time recently, I watched with a brand new sense of amazement and wonder as Junah's struggles and seemingly overpowering challenges before and during the tournament, and Bagger Vance teachings, were an onscreen portrayal of the very challenges that I've been going through in my own life, particularly in staying on my chosen path of creating and sharing with the world my "Designing My Life", and "Heart of Gold" online books.

As Campbell has always said, the Hero's Journey is a universal human story told by all cultures now and throughout human history.  So why am I so surprised when I feel like a movie is describing my own life?

Perhaps it's because I sometimes forget that I'm a human being who comes up against my own obstacles and challenges as I travel my Path. I also know that when I consciously choose to live my own Hero's Journey those challenges and obstacles are going to seem even more daunting and dangerous.  That's when it's vital for me to remember Campbell's guidance: “We have not even to risk the adventure alone, for the heroes of all time have gone before us.  The labyrinth is thoroughly known . . . we have only to follow the thread of the hero path.”

Fortunately I was able to find these perfect clips (below) from the movie so that you and I have these convenient reminders of these most important and empowering life lessons right here.  

The movie is based on the book by Steven Pressfield, who uses the game of golf as a metaphor for the trials and travails of the human experience in a most wondrous way.

As Bagger Vance would tell us about golf (and the game of Life):

"What I'm talkin' about is a game.  A game that can't be won, only played."


"The Legend of Bagger Vance" Trailer

A very disillusioned Junah has returned from the unimaginable devastation of the war and has gone into seclusion.  Hardy Greaves has come to extend an invitation to Junah to play in the tournament as Savannah's favorite son and hero.

Junah has bowed to Adele's and the city of Savannah's pressures and has reluctantly decided to play in the tournament, hoping that the golf skills he had before he went off to the war will come back to him.

Bagger tells young Hardy about the "Authentic Swing" that each of us has, and our job is to discover what that is and then live it.  I call this "Recovering the Golden Child."  

Junah is 12 strokes behind Jones and Hagen after the first of four 18 hole rounds.  Bagger sees that he's lost and struggling and decides that it's time to tell Junah about "The Field".

Junah has experienced living and playing golf "In the Field", and he begins to think that it's easy to maintain, when life shows him that "The Field" is a discipline, not something one can take for granted.  He then slices a long drive into the woods and faces his demons once again. 

As I was saying earlier, Bagger's wisdom guided me back onto my Path, and here I am, adding the Bagger Vance chapter to "Heart of Gold".  

Use this as often as you find it necessary to get back on your own Path. As Junah demonstrated so well, to stay on your Path requires constant vigilance and going beyond your fears.  

"What I'm talkin' about is a game.  A game that can't be won, only played."

There are some great quotes from the movie if you click here.

To continue to the next chapter, "The Shadow", please click here.