The Bucket List is a comedy released in 2007 featuring Morgan Freeman as Carter and Jack Nicholson as Edward. The two unlikely friends meet in the hospital where they are both diagnosed with cancer and given a year at most to live. Edward is a billionaire and Carter is a car mechanic but the two men become fast friends despite their differences and decide to escape the hospital and fulfil a bucket list before they die. The two friends begin with skydiving and racecar driving and then take Edward’s private jet to travel the world, partaking in new experiences and adventures. On their journey, Carter learns that Edward has a daughter he never gets to see because of his ex-wife, so upon returning to the United States, Carter takes Edward to his daughter’s house. When Edward realizes this he is furious with Carter and the two part ways. Eventually the two reunite when Carter ends up back in the hospital because his cancer has spread to his brain. Carter ultimately succumbs to his cancer and dies. Edward lives until he is 81 and his ashes are placed with Carter’s atop “the most majestic place in the world”, which was the last item on their bucket list.
The aesthetic qualities of this movie are relatively standard. Perhaps the most well done scenes are the opening and closing scenes. The movie begins by panning across a snow covered mountain with Morgan Freeman narrating about life in the background while switching angles to give different views of the mountain. The closing scenes feature the same mountain views, but this time Jack Nicholson offers narration since Freeman’s character, Carter, has died at this point. The final scene shows Edward’s ashes being placed next to his best friend, Carter’s. While the movie opens with the beautiful mountain scene, the audience does not realize its significance until the end of the movie. By showing the same scene at the end of the movie, the producers successfully communicate to the audience the significance of the opening scene and provide a sense of closure because the story comes full circle. Another powerful scene in the movie is when Edward speaks at Carter’s funeral. The camera angle shows Edward speaking to us and then switches to Edward’s point of view looking over the audience. This is particularly moving because the vast majority of the people attending Carter’s funeral are black and Edward is white. Edward’s speech illustrates the unlikeliness of a friendship between a white billionaire and a black mechanic while also demonstrating the strength of their short three month long friendship.
The story structure here is relatively straightforward—two terminally ill men become fast friends in the hospital and then proceed to travel the world together. The main conflict is not between characters; rather, it is the characters fighting cancer. The movie acts as a ticking clock since both men are given less than a year to live. The main source of tension between Edward and Carter is when, upon returning to the United States, Carter takes Edward to visit his long lost daughter without warning him or asking permission. Shortly thereafter, Carter ends up in the hospital where Edward comes to visit him and the two rekindle their friendship before Carter dies.
The Bucket List is filled with an array of values, the most notable of which is friendship. Edward and Carter become best friends because they are placed in the same hospital room. Their friendship exemplifies how something as traumatic as cancer can bring two people together and the bond that can be created. Acceptance also plays a large role in this movie because both characters accept the fact that they have cancer and choose to make the most of the time they have left by making a bucket list and travelling all over the world to complete it.