Where the elemental power of the human will can take a man or woman is sometimes most compelling a subject, and under certain conditions it can alter the course of human history.
Take the three examples I now cite:
Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will) is, even today, considered one of the most powerful film documentaries ever created. Leni Riefenstahl, a popular movie star and ballet dancer, became a film producer as well, and drew the attention of the new leader of Germany, Adolf Hitler. He contacted her and requested that she create a film on the new movement and leader. The eventual result was a film of the Nuremberg Rally of 1934, depicting the revivification of a formerly downtrodden and hapless nation formed by the decisions of the Treaty of Versaille.
The result was a resounding recognition of the new techniques in film making created by this remarkable young woman, who became a world celebrity, and whose film won awards in the West, including recognition by America. It brilliantly depicts the messianic power of Hitler, and the title of this documentary revolved around the unflagging nature of Hitler's consuming quest for unconditional personal power.
The title tells us all about the coming Hitler and his hold on about 65,000,000 people in a remarkably brief period of time.
Example number two: How about Pete Gray, the only one-armed baseball player whose power of the will resulted in his becoming a Major League player in St. Louis?
He lost his right arm in an accident on his father's farm, but his unflinching yearning to excel in the sport he loved eventually earned him a spot in sports history, even though it was for a rather brief period. There are probably some motion pictures of Gray on the Internet, demonstrating the incredible method he developed in catching a ball, then throwing it back to the infield (he was an outfielder) all within a second or two. Nothing like Pete Gray has ever been repeated, nor is it likely to be - a unique example of the enacting of the human will.
Final example: I think of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who in spite of the reality that he spent so much of his adult life in a wheelchair, let alone his entire presidential career, due to polio contracted in, I believe, his 39th year. This terrible disease did not deter him from becoming one of the most powerful men of the 20th century.
Interestingly, one of his favorite expressions was the poem "Invictus" by a Victorian poet named Henley, and Roosevelt lived by some of the words in that poem; for instance, " I am the master of my fate," or, "my head is bloody, but unbowed," or, "I am the captain of my soul."
There are many other examples of the power of the human will, such as, say, Beethoven; however, three examples are sufficient at this point in time, in my opinion. After all, you have other things to do!
Labels: the power of the will