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In Bruges

As much as the medieval city of Bruges is demeaned by Colin Farrell’s character Harry in the movie In Bruges, the picturesque settings and beautiful screenplay give the viewer a strong will to visit there. Aside from that the movie made me think about several things. Among them was the concept of friendship and loyalty. One of the main characters, an assassin, botches a job in Dublin and accidently kills a child so he and his partner are ordered to go to Bruges, Belgium, a small but very touristic medieval village. They spend some time there doing the normal tourist things but finding that these don’t make them feel any better they start drinking and doing drugs. After a couple of days, the character Ken played by Brendan Gleeson, receives a call from the boss saying that he has to kill his partner, since it was he who had botched the job. Gleeson’s character goes and has quite a few beers in order to prepare himself to kill his friend. When he is getting ready to do it he sees Harry getting ready to commit suicide. After the awkward scenario works itself out, Ken realizes that his friend is already suffering and that he is not going to judge him and that he is going to stand up to the boss and let Harry go.

This made me start thinking about whether or not I have had friends who I would do this for and who would do the same thing for me. I have had friends stand up for me in fights before, but I don’t know if they would take a bullet for me, and I also don’t know for certain if I would either. At what point does someone realize that they would risk their life to save someone else’s life? Is it all a question of the moment? In other words, would you do it one day but on another day let him die? Do you have to feel like their life is more important than yours? Am I too cynical? These questions all floated through my head and I realized that self sacrifice involves some sort of higher relationship that you share with the other person. In other words, it is based on this relationship, whatever it may be, that determines how a person will react in a similar scenario. My friends and I have shared some good times, had our share of fights and disputes, and resolved them. Does that add up to enough that I would risk my life for them? I don’t think so. However, if there was some other relationship at work, such as between a parent and a child or a husband and wife, I would most likely react differently. In the movie, Ken was sort of a father figure to Harry and he was responsible for bringing him into to the professional killer racket, so it is possibly because of that relationship of responsibility that he chose to save him, Harry was likewise about ten or fifteen years younger than Ken and it was also his first job that he botched. I guess that if I felt responsible for one of my friends I would take a bullet for them. Thinking about it this way makes me somewhat skeptical about human emotions. It seems that Biology is the driving force behind them. Parents would die for their children in order to pass on their genes and a husband might choose to die for his wife in order that she can raise their children. But where is the line between biological impulse and human society drawn? People sacrifice themselves by going to war but perhaps it is only to protect these same people to whom they have a responsibility. If that is the case then there is some serious mind control going on by the governments of the world: we must have victory becomes tantamount to if we lose, our children will likely fall into the hands of the enemy. On the other hand, it seems that human society is then perhaps just one big collective biological impulse. There is no difference between biology and society.