Saturday, November 04, 2006

A Movie Moment Fable

The following is from the movie Cinema Paradiso, likely my favorite movie of all time. It is translated from the original Italian, and features an old man, using a fable to explain "love" to an infatuated young boy:

MAN: "Once...a king gave a feast for the loveliest princesses in the realm. Now, a soldier who was standing guard saw the king's daughter go by. She was the most beautiful of all and he fell instantly in love. But what is a simple soldier next to the daughter of a king? At last he succeeded in meeting her, and he told her he could no longer live without her. The princess was so taken by the depth of his feeling that she said to the soldier, "If you can wait for 100 days and 100 nights under my balcony, at the end of it I shall be yours."

With that the soldier went and waited one day...
two days...
then ten...
then twenty.

Each evening the princess looked out, and he never moved! In rain, in wind, in snow, he was always there! Birds shat on his head, bees stung him- but he didn't budge. At the end of ninety nights he had become all dry, all white. Tears streamed from his eyes. He couldn't hold them back. He didn't even have the strength to sleep. And all that time, the princess watched him.

At long last, it was the 99th night...and the soldier stood up, took his chair and left."

BOY: "What happened at the end?"

MAN: "That *is* the end. And don't ask what it means. I don't know."


I think the old man knew exactly what it meant, though he wanted the boy to figure it out for himself.

I have told this story to countless friends, because there are so many poignant morals in it, and I hope it has helped them, even in a *small* way.

So tell me, what is the moral of the story, to YOU?


At 5:55 PM , Blogger Motherkitty said...

The moral of the story, to me, is that the soldier had 100 days to think about this relationship to decide if it was worth it. In the beginning he thought all good things come to those who wait. He endured all the hardships known to man. He remained true-blue and stayed for 99 days and nights.

But, during this time he had a long time to think about this relationship and decided that he had shown his love and endured many hardships but the princess showed that she did not truly love him. Otherwise she wouldn't have asked him to wait 100 days. In the end, I believe he didn't think it was worthwhile so he left.

The moral of the story is, if you have the discipline to sit in one spot long enough, with a princess watching you, you will get shit upon and end up dry, white, and crying. Thus, a bird in hand is better than a bird in a bush.

At 7:09 PM , Blogger Bob said...

I don't think I can say it better than how motherkitty had put it.

At 7:03 AM , Blogger jellyhead said...

Motherkitty has explained it exactly how I understood it. The soldier came to the realisation that true love just shouldn't be that painful.

Definitely food for thought. I'll just go unlock the back door and let Fatty back in.


At 10:19 AM , Blogger Mildanka said...

I would agree with the conclusion that love shouldn't be that painful.

I think that even further to that is this idea that we may all reach a moment in our lives where we have dreamed so long for something that we would be willing to give anything for it. But as time passes it becomes clear that even those dreams have changed. We are not the same person that we were when we started this quest. Or what we thought was the dream turned out not to be the genuine dream afterall.

And it would have been so very easy for the soldier to have just waited that one more day and taken his princess, but it took more courage and self-respect to walk away from something that no longer represented happiness to him.

Sometimes the things we thought we wanted most then overshadow what we need most now and it takes strength of character and a genuine self-respect for ourselves to let go and walk away.

That doesn't mean that we give up on our dreams, it means that we ask ourselves if where we are in this moment lines up with those dreams.

At 11:17 AM , Blogger Franny said...


"We are not the same person that we were when we started this quest"

The quest changes you.

Poignant. Wow.

At 12:51 PM , Blogger Kimberly said...


I tend to agree with Mildanka and Motherkitty, although I'd like to suppose that perhapt it wasn't the dream that wasn't worth it or changed, but that the soldier realized, after the first blush of passion wore off, that the woman he was waiting for, his dream woman, was not actually his dream woman at all. That somewhere in that 99 days, he came to the realization that the dream of true love was still alive in him, just not embodied in the woman who would make him wait under such horrendous conditions.

While good things come to those who wait, good things also come to those who seek the truth.

At 10:27 AM , Blogger Phoenix said...

A friend gave me this link so I came here, and I'm quite moved by the story...pretty true the moral...sometimes in the end it doesnt matter...with time perspectives change so much!

At 11:18 AM , Anonymous nerdylove said...

I have read this in other versions... I remembered the soldier said that he can endure for 100 days but the only thing he cannot take is after 100 days the princess will not hold onto her promise because she was not really onto him.

At 3:34 AM , Blogger Tony Wu said...

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