Welcome, tens of Sweensryche readers! Today sees the unveiling of a new feature – “What I Learned From …” – in which we explore the lessons that Hollywood movies cram into our eye sockets, so that they can slowly worm their way into our brains and eventually alter our behavior. Today, we focus on the 1997 thriller The Edge, in which Anthony Hopkins, Alec Baldwin and an African-American are stranded in the bear-infested wilds of Alaska. Guess who gets eaten?
Lesson 1: Obscenely rich people have better survival instincts.
Hopkins plays Charles Morse, who is a billionaire from doing something or other. Morse can build a compass out of a paper clip and a leaf, treat the grievous injuries of his companions, and kill a bear in one-on-one combat, all while exuding a Dalai Lama-level sense of calm. Baldwin plays the fashion photographer Robert Green, a character you would imagine does well for himself. But he’s not as rich as Morse, which logically means he’s also weaker, dumber and on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
Lesson 2: Obscenely rich people are Christ-like.
Within the first five minutes of The Edge, it’s clear that Robert is having an affair with Charles’ model wife, Mickey Morse (!). They attempt to give him a heart attack with a bear suit birthday prank, after which Mickey gives Charles a watch with a lazily phrased engraving, and Robert gives him a knife. Not to mention all their “stolen” looks at each other. Anyways, the viewer isn’t supposed to be sure about all of this, because at the film’s dramatic peak, Robert admits to the affair, and shares that he was plotting to kill Charles all along. (Greed clouds the minds of poorer people, making them ill-suited for survival in the wild. See Lesson 1.) After being outwitted, Robert is impaled at the bottom of a bear trap. What does Charles do? He tries to save him. Before Robert dies, he sees the error of his ways, and confesses to the Hopkins Christ. We assume he goes to heaven.
Lesson 3: Bears are sociopaths.
Every time a bear appears in The Edge, it is ready to maul the shit out of every human being in its path. And it’s not just because they’re hungry: When Charles is teetering on a log that’s spanning some whitewater rapids, a bear comes up and shakes it until Charles falls. Fucker just wanted to see him die.
Lesson 4: Fashion photographers love stoic Native Americans.
How did these guys get themselves into this ursine kerfuffle, you say? Well, it’s because they were in Alaska for Robert’s photo shoot of Mickey (played with glassy-eyed irrelevance by Elle MacPherson), and Robert got sick and tired of the same old model stuff. After seeing a framed photo of a weathered Native American dude on the wall of their lodge, Robert decides they need to go out and find him instead. Because what do fashion magazines love more than the quiet pain of indigenous people?
Lesson 5: If you’re cheating on your husband, and you’re getting him an engraved watch for his birthday, do not also get one for your lover as part of the same order. Then, do not leave the receipt inside the box that holds your spouse’s watch.