“The Bucket List,” (2007) is a meaningful movie about two terminally ill patients, Carter Chambers and Edward Cole, experiences the death and dying phase in their late adulthood. Carter and Edward were roommates in a hospital owned by Edward himself. They became friends not so long after that and made a bucket list of the things they wanted to do before they die. “The Bucket List” is a list of the craziest and most unforgettable things a person hopes to experience or achieve in life. Although Carter and Edward were close friends, they both have lived very different lives. While Edward got all the money in the world, he has never been loved.
On the other hand, being a mechanic at a typical car repair shop, Carter lived a happy life with his loving wife and family regardless of the financial issues. Despite the fact that his wife disagreed with the plan, Carter and Edward left anyway. They went sky-diving, got tattoos, drove the Shelby Mustangs, flew in a private plane to France, went to the African safari, Egypt, the Great Wall of China, and finally to Hong Kong. Throughout the trip, Carter realized family was what important to him, and Edward realized the last thing he wanted to do was seeing his daughter again.
At the end of the movie, Carter and Edward passed away; their remains were buried in two coffee cans at the top of Mount Himalayans. The movie did an excellent job at displaying the biosocial development of aging portrayed by Carter and Edward. It also applied the wear-and-tear theory, meaning a process by which the human body wears out because of the passage of time and exposure to environmental stressors (Berger, 2012a, p. 654). Not only aging dealt with physical changes, cognitive changes, but it also dealt with death and dying, which was the result of the wear-and-tear theory for late adults who suffered illnesses. The death and dying phase was emphasized significantly in the movie.
It had also mentioned several emotional characteristics of death and dying such as denial, anger and acceptance. In the beginning, both Carter and Edward went through denial, where they attempted to deny the reality that they both have cancer and tried isolating themselves from reality, led to the feeling of anger and resentment to the people around them. However, in the end, after fulfilling their bucket list, they both have learned to accept reality, death, and found peace within themselves. Self-actualization is a cognitive development mentioned slightly in the movie.
It is the final stage of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs characterized by aesthetic, creative, philosophical, and spiritual understanding; portrayed by Carter (Berger, 2012b, p. 686) Carter has always tended to accept himself and others as they are. He lacked inhibition but was able to enjoy himself and his life free of guilt. Meanwhile, self-actualization was what Edward lacked.
A characteristic under self-actualization called peak experiences was actually displaying in both characters Carter and Edward as well. What is actually a peak experience? According to Maslow, these are feelings of opening up to the vision, the feeling of conquering obstacles, the feeling of ecstasy, wonder and awe, the loss of placement in time and space with, finally, the conviction that something extremely important and valuable had happened, so that the subject was to some extent transformed and strengthened their daily life by such experiences (What are peak experiences? n. d). That, was what happened in the end of the movie, after fulfilling their bucket list and did the things they have never done before, but always wanted to do, Carter and Edward was finally ready to face death because they have finally lived up to the quote: “Live each day as if it was your last day. ” Erik Erikson’s last stage of psychosocial development, Integrity versus Despair, was similar to what Carter and Edward had gone through psychosocially.
This last stage defines an elder who seek to integrate their unique experiences with their vision of community (Berger, 2012c, p. 694). For example, both Carter and Edward had looked back upon their lives, wished they had done something different and wanted to do things that they still want to do. Carter always wanted to be a history teacher, but he felt like he needed to work hard to keep food on the table for his family. On the other hand, Edward always wanted to have someone special in his life because he was married four times and had a daughter but was never in a great relationship with anyone besides his work. Thus, they both have shown despair.
However, Edward and Carter felt like they wanted to switch roles, in the end, their lives seemed to have been fulfilled emphasizing integrity. Throughout the movie, cancer was what hindered the growth and development of Carter and Edward. If they were cancer-free, they could have lived longer and could possibly become centenarians. But, they would never have been able to experience the joy, the love, and the crazy experiences if had not for cancer. Although, cancer has made them bitter men in the beginning, but at the end, they were happy with what they had because they have fulfilled their wishes.
Overall, “The Bucket List” was successful at demonstrating the effects of death, the values in life and particularly, the development of an average older adult through biosocial, cognitive and psychosocial phases. Not only the movie teaches a person to deal with what life offers, to forgive, to love, but also to live the best a person can be with positive attitudes. Even though, Carter and Edward were old and at the verge of dying, they still had goals that they wanted to accomplish. They got out there and achieved what was on the list even when they may not have been well all the time. So, live life to the fullest everyday and always have a goal, something that can be live up to and look forward to.
Berger, K. S. (2012a). Late Adulthood: Biosocial Development.
The developing person through the life span (8th ed. , p. 654). New York: Worth Publishers.
Berger, K. S. (2012b). Late Adulthood: Cognitive Development.
The developing person through the life span (8th ed. , p. 686). New York: Worth Publishers.
Berger, K. S. (2012c). Late Adulthood: Psychosocial Development. The developing person through the life span (8th ed. , p.
694). New York: Worth Publishers. What Are Peak Experiences?. (n. d. ).
About. com Psychology. Retrieved November 12, 2013.http://psychology.about.com/od/humanist-personality/f/peak-experiences.htm