The movie Charlie had taken the audience by storm with its exciting portrayal of the character Charlie, a free-spirited bohemian youth, who touches the heart of every person he meets. The name Charlie itself means ‘free man’ and the movie gradually reveals different aspects of this character through its various subplots. Charlie won the hearts of the audience particularly for his optimistic and care-free lifestyle, resembling that of a hippie. But how much has this hippie culture shown by Charlie made its point to the audience?
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The character Charlie himself could be considered underrated, as few people care to see him as someone beyond an alcoholic or a vagabond. Though he stood out as a charming and ebullient personality, people remember him only for his love for travelling and alcohol. Charlie is not only a portrayal of a complex character, but the whole movie itself is like a reflection of the hippie culture, which is also something to be delved into.
Originally, hippies were members of a countercultural youth movement that originated on college campuses in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s. The hippie (or hippy) movement rejected mainstream American life, which was dominated by materialism and repression. Hippies are all about freedom and love for life, celebrating every moment. Hippies themselves are surrounded by various myths, which deem them as drug addicts, nomads, and being sexually immoral. But they have their distinct way of life, valuing spirituality, freedom, love, and happiness.
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Charlie is not just a care-free youth or a mysterious ‘jinn’ as one of the characters describe him. Moreover, Tessa could be taken as a reflection of the audience themselves. She romanticises the image of Charlie as a wandering jinn, based on the superficial knowledge she has about him. The other characters share a similar notion, seeing him as a magical being who came into their life ‘like a breeze’ and left. The audience also starts fantasising about being like Charlie, who comes off as an almost surreal being.
But then ultimately, we come to see that this is not the real Charlie, as even his name is not uttered till he says it himself at the end. One might have thought of him as the cliché ‘manic pixie dream boy’, but in the end, we see the imperfect, raw human side of him, told by himself and not anyone else. Though indirectly and reluctantly, he confesses to Kani about his fear of commitment and his insecurities of not being able to meet people’s expectations. This is revealed to be the reason why he contents himself with only the sudden encounters and short stays in the lives of his loved ones. He vanishes ‘like a breeze’ because he is too scared to stay. When Tessa fantasises about him as a breeze that is hard to catch, he is actually a person running away from her due to his fear of commitment. Kani exposes him as an escapist, who runs away from his problems by creating distractions (helping others). Charlie is, thus, shown to be not just a happy human being but having an entirely different side to him.
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Hippies have always been misunderstood or misinterpreted by the world. They are seen as these romanticised characters, wearing colourful clothes, travelling care-free, and indulging in drug use. But they have their own values and philosophies, many of them shown by Charlie.
Just like a typical hippie, Charlie is not bothered by materialism. He doesn’t have a phone, nor is he attached to any of his homes or belongings. He is content with his unconventional job as a travelling artist and magician and is in search of new experiences. He doesn’t hesitate from showing affection and always finds reasons to celebrate his time with his loved ones. As each character in the movie narrates their encounter with Charlie, we see how a different aspect of his personality is revealed. From his outlandish acts, we actually get to know the various philosophies that govern his life. He published his own obituary as he believes that the dead would never be able to see or appreciate the love that their loved ones show for them. He fulfils Mariam’s wish of seeing a mermaid which is considered unreal, but he thinks of reality to be solely based on the individual’s imagination. He stops Kani from killing herself, by giving her a simple reminder that God created the world just so that humans could live and enjoy.
The instances where Charlie’s big heart and deep character are revealed are often accompanied by alcohol, but what we see is not an intoxicated Charlie, but a man who thinks and acts beyond it. His parties and celebrations are just a part of his life, his priorities being even bigger.
The whole movie itself screams hippie culture, with its spectacular visuals of nature, art, music, and prayer all encompassed in its very starting scenes. The background score of Sufi music adds to the charm. Along with Charlie, other characters including Tessa contribute to the hippie vibe of the movie with their peculiar clothing styles and way of life.
Indeed Charlie celebrates freedom and the karmic result of doing good, which is happiness. But from another perspective, it is also a reflection of hippie culture, with each element contributing towards it. Also, Charlie himself holds a far greater significance than just a happy man. His complex character adds depth to the movie, and the movie becomes even more beautiful when you finally recognise that Charlie is not a jinn but a normal human being just trying his best.