In his larky book Why The Chicken Crossed the Road and Other Hidden Enlightenment Teachings from Buddha to Behop to Mother Goose, Dean Sluyter stated, "Even the homeliest cultural artifacts contain information that can incite our spiritual unfoldment." He has taught meditation since 1970 and given workshops throughout the United States on a variety of subjects. Given his propensity for "digging the cosmic ordinary" and finding meaning in jokes, nursery rhymes, proverbs and hymns; it was only a matter of time before he got around to movies. Sluyter was a film critic for several years. In this spiffy collection of pieces on 15 popular movies, he finds plenty of enlightenment lessons. Given the wild and raucous epiphanies in another previous book, The Zen Commandments, you can bank on this author's ability to come up with innovative and spunky spiels on flicks.
Check out his assessment of Memento and its multiple messages about the tricky nature of time and our views of it; the treatment of selfless commitment to the happiness of others in Casablanca; the revelations about individuality and conformity in Invasion of the Body Snatcher; the guided tour of samsara provided by The Big Sleep; and the portrait of our mediated world in The Truman Show. Sluyter sees the latter as presenting "the Fats Domino theory of spiritual awakening. First something happens to shake us up. Then we let its implications rattle around inside us for a while (and perhaps we rattle on to others about it). Finally we roll out of our old world into some more expansive vista."
Other films covered in Cinema Nirvana are Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Independence Day, The Graduate, Easy Rider, Jaws, The Godfather, Goldfinger, Fistful of Dollars, Jailhouse Rock, and A Night at the Opera.