Friday, July 12, 2013

K-PAX: A visitor from another planet or a psychiatric patient?

As an essay response for ENG 121, these are samples from the movie K-PAX, along with the questions I want you to consider in your response. I want short paragraph answers; a minimum of 4 sentences each.

  In the movie K-PAX, Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges play the role of patient and psychiatrist, respectively, in a New York City mental hospital. Spacey insists that he is quite sane; in fact, he endorses his capacity of normalcy above and beyond that of Bridges, who is both amused and bewildered at the exchange of intellectual topics offered by his patient who claims to be from another planet in a distant galaxy. This is the crux of the matter: we judge and evaluate others who bring undeniable truths that challenge our own values. Right down to the baffling conclusion, we are left with no definitive answers—but only more questions. It is the purpose and mission of this movie to dare us to “see with our ears and hear with our eyes.”

Potential essay title: 
“K-PAX: the thin line between truth, reality, and fantasy is truly in one’s mind.”

As I have said before, some of us are more aware of other connections to information and messages from sources that are "not of this world, and for a reason" than we are capable of explaining in the common terms and values of today's society.  That doesn't mean we don't know what we're saying. It means that we're not easily understood and often misjudged.

These are two of the of the most wonderful scenes I have encountered in a movie: the moment when "something just happened, but I can't understand it" occurs (in two different scenes), and the validation of "What kind of proof do you need, even though you won't accept it" regarding knowledge of the Universe from "sources" that are not "scientifically proven."

Kevin Spacey portrays "Prot" (long 'o'), a man who claims to be from K-PAX, a planet in a distant star system in the constellation Lyra. In the first scene, Prot has "arrived" at Grand Central Station in NYC--and under most unusual circumstances. Next, Prot is meeting with his psychiatrist (Jeff Bridges) and a team of astro-physicists (including Bridges' brother-in-law, "Dr. Becker") at the Hayden Planetarium in New York. Their dubious views of Prot are challenged when he diagrams the orbit of K-PAX on a light pad--and their mathematical calibrations are corrected. I am always amused by the looks of perplexed reality on the astronomers's faces when they realize that Prot does indeed know information about their research that corrects their theories about the Lyra star system.
Essay Response questions. Please include 6 of your choice in your responses. Four* are mandatory. I want full detailed extensive sentences--even if you have to make a paragraph out of just one alone as an answer: EXPLAIN your reasons for what you are saying in response to the questions you choose.

*1.  What comments from Prot to Dr. Powell during the various interview/hypnosis sessions caught your attention? Why?

*2.  Consider how the other patients respond and change to Prot: what did you notice, and why did it make a difference to them?
3. Prot shows several extraordinary mental and physical traits that are unique. How does this add to his claim that he is from "the planet K-PAX," and how does Dr. Powell handle this information? Why are his responses valid--or not?
4.  Respond to Prot's comments about K-PAX's society: how do you view it and why?
5.  How does a patient in a heavily secure mental hospital just vanish for three days? Give a logical, rational explanation--if you can.
6.  Consider the conversation between Prot and Mrs. Powell. What insights do they exchange, and how does it make a difference in the end?
*7.  In your own words, in the planetarium, what happens when Prot diagrams the light pad calculations? Why does Dr. Powell question it--and why can he not understand its significance when the others do?
*8.  Why is Dr. Powell reacting so strongly when he visits the Porter home in New Mexico? What is happening to him, and how does this reflect on what he has learned during the hypnosis sessions?
9. Comment on the farewell party--what actions caught your attention?
10. What happened at 5:51 a.m. on July 27th in Prot's room? How do you explain what happened to the security camera?
11.  Why did Prot pick Bess? Why was she different than the others?  How do you validate HER disappearance to the medical board?
12.  What happened to "Robert Porter" at the end? What is his condition, and what would cause it?
13.  What is the significance of Prot's final message to Dr. Powell, and how does it change Dr. Powell's life?
14.  Robert Porter walked naked into a river to drown after his family was killed by an intruder. His body was never recovered. If Robert Porter and Prot were the same people/characters, how do you explain the arrival and appearance of Prot in Grand Central Station? 

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