Friday, January 07, 2005

Got back late from watching National Treasure. The stories about Templar treasure seem to be much the rage now thanks to Brown's bestseller. Speculations go on as the romance of knightly nobility and the excitement of discovering the unknown or lost are the stuff popular tales are made of.

One reviewer described NT as The Amazing Race and, yeah, it is kinda' like that. The race to get to the next clue, to perform the required task and move on to the next clue as the end point draws nearer and nearer is there, though the stakes in the movie are higher than just a paltry million dollars.

Protagonist, Gates, and antagonist, Ian, are the complete opposites of each other. Both seek the treasure for very different reasons and both use methods to acquire the treasure that are poles apart from each other. Gates is selfless, patient, and uses his talented and well-informed brain to overcome problems, solve mysteries and play tricks to accomplish his goals. The villain, Ian, is selfish, impatient and prefers brute force to subtlety. Yep, opposites, all right. Makes for uncomplicated storytelling.

Then there is the value of the treasure itself. Ian and his party focus on the financial wealth the treasure can bring them whereas Ben's party seeks its intrinsic historical value and its benefit to the human race as a collective. The most telling scene must be when Ben and co. become trapped in the treasure room. Though surrounding them is an almost endless multitude of items made of precious metals and other minerals worth billions of moolah, what fascinates the party is the historical significance of the find, the opportunity for humanity to reclaim a lost heritage on a worldwide scale, and the means for people to come to an understanding of themselves as a result thereof.

The only specific lost treasure identified by Dr Chase is the collection of scrolls thought to be lost from the Great Library of Alexandria, a treasure that is worth more to inquiring human intellect than to patent leather wallet. Gates finds psychological satisfaction in making the discovery while keeping his entire party alive and safe. Comic relief, Riley Poole, is most overcome by his own perception of the greatest treasure in the room -- the exit door, the way out.

The movie is a thrill ride mostly paid for by the Tourism Board of the US of A. Locations traverse the must-see heritage sites for tourists to America, from DC to Philly to New Yawk/New Joizey, to Baastan (Boston). But the questions we ask ourselves are, what is the treasure we work so hard to pursue? what is its worth? what are we prepared to do to get it? and once you've got it, how are you going to use it to benefit whom?

No comments: