My Dinner with Andre : I really wanted to enjoy this . . .

I really wanted to enjoy this . . .

I appreciate the acting and skill that went into making this.

Aside from that though, and a few interesting moments, I just cannot understand why it receives the amount of praise it does. I've been meaning to watch it for a long time, and was expecting to be blown away by it but nothing, no real emotional response. I was forcing myself to finish it.

Do people consider the conversation deep? Andre is a rambling, pretentious man out of touch with reality. It takes nearly two hours for Wally to indirectly tell him that.

Re: I really wanted to enjoy this . . .

IS Andre out of touch with reality?

Or is he suggesting to Wally that there's more to life than the everyday grind?

One way of considering the film is to see Wally as the embodiment of outer life, of all the little things you've got to do to keep going every day, just to get by. And those are necessary things in this world.

In which case Andre embodies the inner life, the force that transforms & gives meaning to an individual life, the side of us that asks, "Well, what does it all mean? Or does it even mean anything?"

One of the major points of the film, one that Wally grows to appreciate by the end, is that life is must be more than simply surviving, existing day to day, running the programs that family, society, religion, politics, etc., have filled your mind with since the day you were born. Andre is asking, "Where are YOU in all of that?"

And certainly Andre's thoughts about the robotic nature of life for so many, the degradation of being that comes with the modern world, are all the more true today.

Andre is asking Wally the same question Thoreau pondered, or that Tolstoy posed in his classic short story "The Death of Ivan Ilyich" what if, when you come to die, you realize too late that you had never really lived? That your were simply going through the motions?

Look at the final scene: Wally returns home, and the night is filled with memories, charged with personal meaning, everything resonates far more deeply for him. He's experiencing what Andre had just said we all need: a realization & immediate experience of the sacramental aspect of life.

And Andre is far from perfect or enlightened, as he himself recognizes. He's still searching, still suffering, still questioning but in the ongoing effort to be truly alive.

It is an either/or film, Wally or Andre. But it is a film that says we need both: not just existence, but personal meaning & direct experience. We need to be truly living, not just performing a role others wrote for us.

Andre is often dismissed with words like "self-indulgent", "pretentious", "navel-gazing" & the like but he's clearly aware of the world situation, and just as much aware of the underlying forces & causes of that situation. So why the need for many to deride & dismiss him?

I think it's because that stopping to look within & see what's really going on inside, and just how much we are slaves of routine, is frightening to many people. Just as it was frightening to Wally! We'd rather not be that painfully honest with ourselves, especially when it makes us realize that our lives have been shallow & hollow far more than we care to admit. We don't want to wake up from the insane dream world.

Andre is saying that if we want to be truly & wholly human, we must wake up from that insane dream world. And it's even more of an insane dream world today than it was in 1981.

Re: I really wanted to enjoy this . . .

IS Andre out of touch with reality?

Or is he suggesting to Wally that there's more to life than the everyday grind?

I would say both.

Yes, Andre makes a great point in finding yourself and finding out what your worth is to you.

But he achieved that enlightenment through means the average person just can't. The average person can't just gallivant off to Europe or the middle of the woods.

Andre seems to be very well off financially to be able to take trips he does. The average person can't. For many people, the everyday grind is a necessity to put food on the table.

Seize the moment, 'cause tomorrow you might be dead.

Re: I really wanted to enjoy this . . .

And this is precisely the dialectic of the film, with Wally & Andre representing those two viewpoints.

Still, Wally's point that you don't have to be taken to the top of Everest for revelation & enlightenment is valid. That cigar store next door, the most mundane situation of the everyday grind, can be just as revelatory & enlightening if we're open to it. Making ourselves open to it is what Andre is reminding Wally to do.

I don't think it's an either/or proposition. At least, it doesn't have to be. I see those possibilities right in my own home, in the natural world that's all around us, in the practice of self-awareness techniques from many cultures that are available to all of us. As in Zen, the simplest & most ordinary of things can open the mind & our experience of the world again, if we're at least willing to be open to it.

Andre did his travelling around the world at a time (the late 1960s/early 1970s) when it was much easier for the average person. I agree that it's much more difficult now, given current economic & social conditions we do seem to be slipping into the new Dark Age that Andre foresaw some 35+ years ago. All the more need to wake up as best we can & see that life does, or should, be more than simply surviving, existing. He's essentially reminding us to try & save our souls (or whatever word you wish to use). We don't have to do as he did his stories alone are reminders of the possibilities right in front of us, if we can only see them.

Or so it seems to me.

Re: I really wanted to enjoy this . . .

Andre is a depressed blowhard with more money than sense. If he couldn't afford to run off on all his random trips he'd be a hobo sucking dick for drug money.