The Top Ten Guiding Characters in Movies

So, what do I mean by Guiding Characters? It’s very simple. I mean male or female characters in movies who look after the hero and guide them through trials, rather they be the journey to Mordor, or a kung-fu competition. I would have called them Wise Old Men, but I incorporated some women, so that didn’t work. These are a few of the characteristics I look for in these characters.

Wise: obviously.

Old: This is pretty flexible. The character does not exactly need a long grey beard. But they do have to be experienced so they can legitimately give good real-world advice.

Teacher and Guide: This is what these characters all do. They teach, aide, and offer advice to the hero. They may not physically guide the hero to a destination, but they at least guide them emotionally.

Power: This one isn’t a requirement. Not all Guiding characters are God, or have magical powers. But most of them have some power that they use to help the hero.

Ethical: All of these characters have a firm sense between right and wrong. They are incorruptible, and they will always work to do what is right. And one of the major roles of the Guiding Character is creating a similar moral compass within the hero.

Friendship: This one is the most important. The Guiding Character bonds with the hero. They usually become great friends, or even establish a father-son dynamic.

Sacrifice: Most Guiding Characters are willing to or actually do sacrifice themselves for the hero. It is usually after this moment that the hero becomes the strongest and triumphs.

10. Mr. Myagi: Pat Morita, The Karate Kid

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When I decided to create this list, I knew Mr. Myagi had to be on it. He is the paragon of a martial arts teacher. And for an old man who is sometimes quite hard to understand, Pat Morita put on quite the performance.

9. Professor Xavier: Patrick Stuart, X-Men

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Teacher? Check. Xavier is a professor and the headmaster of a school. Power? He can control people’s freakin’ minds. In the original X-Men, Xavier uses this power and his brigade of mutants to help the hero Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) become an X-man and later find answers about his past. This plus his sacrifice (OK, so he doesn’t sacrifice himself willingly and doesn’t die, but those are just details) makes him a prime guiding character. Add Patrick Stuart’s sexy voice, and it’s a win!

8. Lionel Logue: Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech

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First off, this is one of my favorite movies, and that is mostly because of Geoffrey Rush’s character. To be very honest, I think he, and not Colin Firth (although God knows I love the man) should have received an Oscar. Lionel Logue is an unconventional guiding character. He is not much older than Bertie, the hero he helps. He has no magical power. However, what counts is how Logue is able to help Bertie become the king he needs to be when WWII starts. In the movie (and in history) Bertie and Logue are close friends for the rest of their lives.

7. Mr. Keating: Robin Williams, The Dead Poet’s Society

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Another teacher. And as far as inspiring teachers go in movies, I think it’s easy for people to think of Mr. Keating. Although this is another unconventional case, because his hero, Neal, doesn’t triumph, but ends up (spoiler alert) committing suicide. But Keating is still a guiding character, because whether the hero fails or not, Keating still guided him and forged a relationship with him. If you’ve never seen Dead Poet’s Society, stop whatever you are doing right now, rent it, and watch it. And don’t say you won’t just because I gave away the ending. The ending isn’t as important as the journey. Sorry. I didn’t mean to sound so much like a fortune cookie.

6. Galadriel: Cate Blanchett, Lord of the Rings

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Don’t let Cate Blanchett’s beauty fool you. As any LOTR freak knows, as an Elf, Galadriel is probably the oldest character in the trilogy. Galadriel helps Frodo. She is not as close to him geographically or emotionally as Gandalf, but she does give Frodo advice, and helps him even when they are miles apart. And I’m sure some of you will argue, “But wait, Allison! Galadriel was tempted by the Ring! She’s corruptible!” Okay, true. She was tempted by the Ring. But so was everyone else, including Gandalf. The important thing is she said no and let Frodo keep it. As powerful as Galadriel is, to be able to see the most powerful and seductive weapon walk right in front of her and let it go, she is probably the most incorruptible character on this list. On top of that, she’s just awesome. I don’t know any other way to say it.

5. V: Hugo Leaving, V for Vendetta

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Yet another movie on this list that I love. Some people may be surprised about this choice though, because most people probably think V is the hero of V for Vendetta. V is a hero, but I think the hero of V for Vendetta is Natalie Portman’s character, Evey. The story of the movie follows her more than it does V. V guides Evey, makes her see the problems of the world and how to fix them. And not only do they become great friends, they fall in love. And V even makes the ultimate sacrifice (spoiler alert). He dies at the end of the film for the revolution Evey leads.

4. God; Morgan Freeman, Bruce Almighty

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Was there any way either God or Morgan Freeman were going to escape this list whether or not they would be put together? In Bruce Almighty, God guides Bruce (Jim Carey) through becoming a better man. And he’s a great character. If there really is a God, I hope he has this character’s sense of humor. But how can God not have a sense of humor? Case and point: the Platypus.

3. Morpheus: Lawrence Fishburne, the Matrix

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I’m sure if Morpheus were not on this list, I was going to receive a bunch of anonymous hate-mail and get bricks thrown through my windows. Morpheus is close to a perfect guiding character, but he’s also a bad-ass. My question to the makers of the Matrix. Couldn’t Morpheus be the main character? I for one found him much more interesting than Neo because of Keanu Reeve’s poor acting skills. But no one listens to me…

2. Gandalf: Ian McKellen, Lord of the Rings

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I usually don’t like to put two characters from one movie in the same list, but I had to. And it’s my blog so get over it. Gandalf is one of my favorite characters of all time. He fits my characteristics to a T. And Ian McKellen played him to perfection. All of that gave him a top spot on this list. Gandalf is perhaps second to Merlin the most remembered character in terms of fantasy. And that is for a very specific reason. Everyone loves Gandalf: his wisdom, his strength, and his devotion to Frodo. I think we all wished we had a bit of Gandalf in us.

  1. Obi-Wan Kenobi: Sir Alec Guinness, Star Wars

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I don’t think anyone can argue with my choice for number one. Obi-Wan is iconic as a guide. He fits every characteristic. he’s wise, old, definitely powerful, and he sacrifices himself for Luke. This phenomenal, memorable character will continue to go down in film history. And if Star Wars hadn’t had Obi-Wan, I don’t think it would have been near as successful. Well, as time has told us, though, there are other ways to ruin Star Wars, like letting George Lucas off his leash.

Honorable Mention

Merlin: Karl Swenson, The Sword and the Stone

Asland: Liam Neeson, the Chronicles of Narnia

William Forrester: Sean Connery, Finding Forrester

Glinda: Billie Burke, The Wizard of Oz

Albus Dumbledore: Ed Harris, Harry Potter

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Quills: I Don’t Think This Title Just Refers to a Writing Implement

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I was really excited about seeing this movie. It has four of my favorite actors: Geoffrey rush, Kate Winslet, Joaquin Phoenix, and Michael Caine in most possible his most brooding role ever.

Quills, directed by Philip Kaufman, was released in 2000. It is about the Marquise de Sade. If that name is ringing a bell, it’s because he is notorious for scandalizing Paris and angering everyone (including Napoleon) with his lechery and steamy novels. In the movie, the Marquise (Geoffrey Rush) is in the Charenton Insane Asylum, run by Abbe du Coulmier (Joaquin Phoenix) where with the help of a the laundry woman Madeleine (Kate Winslet) the Marquise is able to smuggle out and publish his scandalous novels. His work sets Paris in an uproar, both in positive and negative fashions. Aghast, Napoleon sends a harsh man of “science,” Dr. Royer-Collard (Michael Caine) to go investigate Charenton. Coulmier has to get the Marquise in line, or face the shut down of his asylum, leaving hundreds of mentally ill patients with nowhere to go.

 

This movie about censorship really caught me quite off guard. What began as a whimsical farce became one of the most disturbing and haunting movies I’ve ever seen. Considering the film’s subject matter, I was expecting some steamy sex scenes, but the closest to that we get is Joaquin Phoenix resorting to necrophilia. Whatever floats your boat, man.

And interestingly, while I sincerely love Geoffrey Rush and Kate Winslet, Joaquin Phoenix steals the show, despite his accosting of corpses. His performance as the Abbe caught between God and science, his heart and his vows, rivals that of his role as Commodus in the movie Gladiator. There are so scenes where he is so haunting, so piercing (I guess in more ways than one) that I won’t be able to forget this movie for a while.

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Also, I think this film has more sexual innuendos of any I’ve ever seen. Thought that award would go to something like, oh, I don’t know, American Pie or something. Anyway, if you like blatant sexual humor, this movie is right up your alley.

While I really enjoyed this film, I think it slightly missed the mark. I think the screenwriter and director wanted to drive their story home through shock. However, I didn’t feel like this strengthened their points. Instead, I just felt shocked. I think if the dark side of the movie had been toned down, just a little bit (you know, maybe Joaquin Phoenix doesn’t have sex with a corpse, or maybe Geoffrey Rush doesn’t write on the walls with his excretion, or…). There is a fine line between shocking artfully and being Quentin Tarantino.

For a very strong commentary of some very important issues including censorship, sex, pornography, science, and religion, I give this astounding movie an 8.