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Thread: The Aviator

  1. #1
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    Oct 2004
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    The Aviator

    This past weekend I had the opportunity to watch the above mentioned movie with my wife. I know that mental health in the movies seems to be a hot topic of discussion these days so I thought a discussion on this film would be interesting. I have a special interest in this particular film because it deals with OCD, a condition which has plagued me almost as long as I can remember.

    Here are my thoughts on the film. I thought Leonardo Di Caprio actually did a very convincing job portraying a person with OCD. I also thought that the movie was sympathetic to the condition, and did not really depict him as a madman or anything. What I found convincing in his acting were the subtle nuances, such as his tendency to appear "lost in thought" while in conversation, thus tuning out of his surroundings while engrossed in an obsession. I find this often happens to me when I am getting very anxious. Also, there was a scene where he was about to eat dinner and a drunken actor (I forget his name) grabs a piece of food off his plate. At this point, he looks at his dinner, winces, then decides he cannot eat it any more. I admit, there have been times where I threw out perfectly good food if I felt it was "contaminated". The scene where he locks himself in his private theater for days on end seems a bit over the top, but I have heard of cases of people doing this. Even though I have never shut myself in, the rituals he requires in order to get through his crisis seem plausible.

    The one point of contention I have with the film is the implication that it was somehow his mother that planted the seeds of OCD with her discussions with him as a child. This seems to run contrary to modern research into OCD, and may be a result of Hollywood's continued belief in Freudian psychoanalysis.

    All in all I think this is a pretty good movie, although don't expect any particularly deep insights or anything.

  2. #2

    The Aviator

    I haven't see it yet, although one of my sons has recommended it highly. One drawback is I understand it's 3 hours long -- sometimes it's hard to find that much free time before I fall asleep ;o)

  3. #3

    The Aviator

    I loved the movie!

    I had interpreted the part about his mother from a different angle, Steve. I can't recall that section in detail but just my thoughts that the mother may have also had OCD. It could have been the writers intention to use the psychodynamic approach to his OCD having some root in his mothers interaction with him as they tend to do that in the movies. For some reason there is a fascination with psychoanalysis for some people and it does tend to be the theory that movie writers like to use. It is more dramatic then a biological cause.

    The part where you felt it was over the top was the most interesting part about his symptoms to me. He was in that room for weeks, I believe, when you consider the amount of beard growth he had. I would say that he was going through a severe psychotic episode. He could not communicate but had a few lucid moments. He was naked, paranoid and delusional. He also seemed to experience an episode of PTSD with flashbacks from a previous severe accident he had while in that room during that time frame.

    That does not mean that most people with OCD have psychosis but from the movie it seems that Howard Huges may have had OCD with either one psychotic episode or perhaps more than one. I know that it is not uncommon for people with schizophrenia to also have OCD but not sure how common it is for people with OCD to have psychotic episodes.

    I am intrigued enough to read more about his life.

    The part that I found so sad was when one of his girlfriends physically assaulted him and verbally abused him calling him crazy because he was experiencing symptoms. The disrespect and cruelty was just awful but par for the course in those days I would think.

    I found the movie to be very hopeful and uplifting and portrayed him as a man with such courage despite his struggles. I rate it as a 10.

  4. #4
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    The Aviator

    He did have a very interesting life. Unfortunately, I do believe he became more and more ill as his life progressed, eventually becoming somewhat of a hermit, albeit an extremely rich one. At one time he was the richest man in the world, I believe. Anyhow, later in life he would travel from city to city, occupying the top two floors of luxury hotels while there, and after a few years he would move on. I believe he lived in Toronto for two years in the 1970s.

    I like the way they portray him as a daring, yet tormented genius. A lot of people with OCD, in my experience are actually very smart.

  5. #5

    The Aviator

    I thought that this was a brilliant movie and incredibly acted (I really wasn't sure what to expect...)

    I really interpreted the whole mother thing in a different way, as well. I saw the introduction of the mother character more as a way to show where a certain compulsive behaviour came from. I don't mean this in a genetic or learned way, but it is important to note that later in the film, in the midst of an obsessive/compulsive "attack", he began to spell the word ("contamination", if I remember correctly) that he used to spell with his mother, as a means to calm himself down. I thought it was important to show that not all obsessive/compulsive behaviours are completely random.

    Like you, Steve, I also saw pieces of things that I have done, in the film. My sister used to purposely eat off of my plate, or use my utensils growing up because she knew that I would end up giving her my food, so I completely related to the dinner scene with Errol Flynn (Jude Law).

    Something did frighten me about The Aviator, however. I realized for the first time in a long time how badly my OCD could have gotten, if I had the money, or had gone longer without treatment. I went 14 years undiagnosed, but things like work and school MADE me leave my house. If I was independently wealthy, I don't know if I would have.

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