A Most Excellent Philosophy
Movies can teach us a lot about the world. They show us the way things are, and help us determine the way we would like things to be. Some films set out with the explicit purpose to inspire thought and enlightenment. Other movies uncover small jewels of wisdom in deep seas of stupidity
One of the most influential movies in my life is Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. It has effective my appreciation for history, cultivated a laid-back attitude, and even had an impact on the way I speak.
In Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure the titular heroes accidentally achieve the philosophers dream. Or, it is at least implied that they do. They discover a universal truth, and use it to bring peace and enlightenment to Earth. “The water is clean, the air is clean, and even the dirt…is clean. Bowling averages are way up. Mini golf scores are down.”
In Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Ted Theodore Logan and Bill S. Preston Esq. are best friends. Together, they are WYLD STALLYNS. But before they can create music that will change the world, they have to pass their high school history class.
In order to help them, Rufus (Mr. Conductor from the future.) gives them a time-traveling phone booth. Bill and Ted then go throughout history, picking up important people to show off in their final presentation. After fun in the mall with Bob Genghis Khan and at the waterpark with Napoleon, the duo give and excellent presentation and therefore save the future.
The most poignant scene in the film comes after Bill and Ted are saved from execution by their friends, Billy the Kid and Socrates.
As they are escaping, they dial a random number on the time-machine, which sends them to an abstract, distant future. The people are peaceful and cool. They wear sunglasses and live in a shiny, angular cave. And they look at Bill and Ted expectantly.
“They want us to say something,” Ted says.
And then a moment of thought.
The wise future-people nod and smile. They already knew what Bill and Ted would say, but it did not diminish the moment. In fact, it magnified it. Like meeting Jesus, and he is exactly what you expected.
The entire future is based on Bill and Ted’s on-the-fly phrase. They would take this philosophy back, instill it in their music and way of life, and inspire a new civilization based on universal Truth.
I don’t know if we will really ever discover a universal truth, or if such a thing even exists. But Bill and Ted’s creed is as close as I’ve ever seen. It is a philosophy that I can get on board with. Who couldn’t?
Abe Lincoln says it best at the end of the film.
“Four score and seven minutes ago, we, your forefathers, were brought forth upon a most excellent adventure conceived by our new friends, Bill and Ted. These two great gentlemen are dedicated to a proposition which was true in my time, just as its true today.
Be excellent to each other. And…
Maybe, if enough of us hold on to these tenets, everything will be all right. In time.