[warning — spoiler 🙂 ]
This post is not really off-topic because certainly many elements of Zimbardo’s heroic are present in this movie.
I loved “Seven Pounds”, Will Smith has the most amazing, expressive face. The story was beautifully woven. I cried. I watched the extras because I wanted to understand everything about it more fully. And yet I also fully get that many people would find his sacrifice to be too extreme (it seems people either love or hate this movie). And had I been the friend portrayed by Barry Pepper, I’d have been directing Ben/Tim towards counseling, instead of assisting him with his plan.
To sum up, I guess I think that to tell the story of a person who makes a suicidal decision is very worthwhile and it has been done with great compassion and beauty here, but perhaps to leave the action viewed as completely heroic is a bit unbalanced.
Somewhere in the movie, I would have liked the counterbalance of a perspective that his redemption could have instead been achieved through living and making the best use of his talents. Had he lived, he might have invented an artificial heart so that donor matching wouldn’t be necessary (he was after all a brilliant engineer). Or maybe by living he’d just be in the right place at the right time to pull the fire alarm, call 911 or perform some other action that would be completely unspectacular but absolutely important for saving seven lives as reparation for his horrifying moment of inattention. I want to see acknowledgment that his suicide was not the only way to get past his pain — probably because I can’t bear to think that others might follow that path.
But maybe the director has assumed that we can come to some conclusions on our own here… that we will generate alternatives and talk about the possible outcomes and share our ideas — and have conversations in classrooms where students will compare and contrast the concept of sacrifice and heroism in other movies (Jimmy Stewart in “It’s a Wonderful Life” comes to mind as a very counterbalancing example) and other art forms as well.