Why The Movie Limitless is Limiting

by David · 23 comments







The film industry is a big part of our lives. It’s easy to see why. Films are powerful. They  have the potential to entertain as well as teach. Sometimes they render life with precision and other times life is distorted. What’s interesting about the film Limitless is that to many it appears to distort reality, but I don’t see distortion, I see a metaphor disguised with sleight of hand.There are distortions, but the heart of the story, the pill, is a substitute for something we already have in the world. Can you guess what that is?

If you don’t know what the film is about Click here to open a pop up of the trailer.

Films Plant Ideas Into Our Minds

Films demand our full concentration. We Watch. We listen. We ask no questions. For anything up to three hours we pay for a film director to guide our thoughts with the use of loud sounds and flashing images.  It is my  opinion that films are used to weave ideas into the fabric of our minds. We absorb ideas we are exposed to constantly and they eventually become part of us. We only have to look at personality development to verify.

Personality diagram

This Diagram was taken from Psychology by David G. Myers

The diagram clearly illustrates that a movie is an ideal environment for psychological influence.

Why Limitless is Limiting

It’s believed by scientist that we are only able to use ten percent of our brains. In this film we’re taken through a story of a man able to access the other ninety per cent by taking a pill. He learns faster, makes a lot money, thinks faster and he even becomes more popular. The idea of accessing the rest of our brains, which is supposedly inaccessible, is realised in this film with a pill. The mere fact that this notion is brought to life in a Hollywood movie renders it an escapism.

Society does not encourage us to push our minds into new domains. Generally speaking, the idea of accessing our unlocked potential exists only in entertainment. I believe strongly that the best way to hide a piece of information from a person is to put it up close to their face.

Try this:

1. Hold your index finger in front of your face.

2. Focus on the tip of your finger

3.Bring your finger towards your face slowly and touch your forehead.

What happened? Your eyes eventually crossed and then the tip of your finger went out of sight despite the fact it was right in front of you face!

The context in which ideas are presented to us makes for all the difference to the direction in which our minds are steered. The idea of unlocking our brains full potential is an idea we are only exposed to in entertainment. It’s right up close to your face but in a conjured world. No wonder i’m constantly criticised for believing I can do as much as I set out to achieve!

I Challenge This Notion!

Lets substitute the pill with EDUCATION. I am certain the constant assimilation of knowledge pushes our minds into new domains. Sure, this film distorts reality, the transition into a super genius is rapid. However, rapid growth is not as farfetched as it may seem.

Here’s a quote from the movie:

“The pill works better when you’re already smart”

I’ve said it here before on this site that the more you learn the easier it gets. I don’t need to be a genius to learn five languages, how to draw or program software. All I need is to constantly engage my mind in mental combat and I will grow to do each and every one of these things.

As we all know, talk is cheap, be sure to subscribe to my RSS feed and join my mailing list to watch my progress.

Let’s clarify, I understand the film is a distortion of reality in many ways, but that’s no excuse to ignore the blatant metaphor!

I wholeheartedly believe in the sentiment that films dumb us down!  I hope I’ve given you some things to think about. Please share your thoughts and opinions.

Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Interesting article. I found it more interesting than the trailer (admittedly the trailer didn’t have my full attention). What’s your current/next learning challenge?

    • Thanks for the feedback. the Mission 2011 page. You’ll see that my current focus is Spanish, Japanese and learning to draw 🙂

    • Thanks for the feedback. the Mission 2011 page. You’ll see that my current focus is Spanish, Japanese and learning to draw 🙂

      • Interesting about the drawing. I’ve forced myself to become good at things through sheer bloody-mindedness and practice…. drawing, dj’ing and playing guitar… no natural talent for any of these, but I didn’t let that stop me

        • I like your spirit. That’s exactly the attitude I’m trying to infect others with. It’s a shame that so many think that without natural ability you’re doomed.

  • Thanks for the feedback.If you check the Mission 2011 page. You’ll see that my current focus is Spanish, Japanese and learning how to draw 🙂

  • Kitcat 1488

    Its an interesting read but I disagree with the comment “I wholeheartedly believe in the sentiment that films dumb us down” It actually wipes alot of amazing films off the map and indeed and just seems like a bit of a sweeping generalisatio…n. Not all films are made for escapism either and I think alot of people do ask questions when watching. If they didn’t there wouldn’t be forums out there discussing the finer points of inception or fan fiction or even reviews.

    And if, as you say “the idea of accessing our unlocked potential exists only in entertainment” then why is there an absolutely Heaving market for self help books about unlocking potential or going further in your job or about a million ways you can go about learning to draw or learn a language? Why has art, music and other creative forms often been associated with drug use? why is it as long as man has existed he has found drugs and found ways to get high or to open up his mind? Why do these mind altering chemicals find themselves in coming of age tribal rituals around the world? Limitless is about that. Its about the dangers as well as brilliance that comes with pushing your mind. Its about Prometheus and flying too close to the sun.

    Also at what point does the assimilation of knowledge actually equate to intelligence? I know alot of people who know alot of things but does that make them intelligent? Conversely Ive met people who can barely speak their own language properly let alone a foreign language and who have come across to me as more sharp witted and perceptive then an average member of Mensa.

    • Thanks for taking the time to respond. You make some interesting points however, in my humble opinion some of them only stand to be strong in the context of your paragraphs.

      Firstly, your opening paragraph challenges a section of the article wich is my personal opinion. I didn’t suggest in the article the people don’t think. The article was focused on the effect films have on us, specifically using Limitless as an example. Your comment about forums ect is a little off tangent.

      Yes you’re are correct. Not all films are made for escapism. But you’re taking something I’ve written and presenting it in a different context. I used the word escapism to refer to Limitless and Limitless alone. My exact words were “The mere fact that this notion is brought to life in a Hollywood movie renders it an escapism.”

      Your next point is also correct. There is a huge market for self help books, but you framed my quote to support your argument. This time you omitted the first part of my sentence. The full sentence was “Generally speaking, the idea of accessing our unlocked potential exists only in entertainment.” you ignored that I was making a generalisation which makes for all the difference.

      Your next point about drugs is off tangent again. I don’t fault you for it, but the purpose of my site is self development and to encourage people to learn new things. This article fits into a bigger picture, that’s why It’s focused on the brilliance aspect.

      ” Also at what point does the assimilation of knowledge actually equate to intelligence?” This is a whole philosophical debate in itself, I don’t think I could give my answer justice in a few short words, perhaps I’ll write a whole post about this one day. Hopefully you return to read my up and coming articles.

      Lastly, I disagree that the people you are referring to do not know how to speak their own language properly. I find this comment extremely interesting because I’m actually writing a Linguistics paper at the moment about language and social class.

      There’s no correct way to use language. Language is a tool for communication.As long as you are able to communicate, you are using language effectively. It is very likely that you are referring to the fact that people do not use language in the way that is the common standard. People may not be able to use this form of language correctly, but that does not mean they do not know how to speak. People speak slang all the time, they are perfectly aware of the way they are speaking and they do it deliberately. Every language has many different dialect. East Londoners speak differently from South Londoners and there are even smaller communities within those that peak differently.

      I could go on, as I said I’m writing an essay on this at the moment, but my point is, the use of language does not equate to intelligence. People often judge people by the way they speak, because they have an idea in their heads that intelligent people speak in a certain way. This may have some truth, but it does not stand to be true in all context, as you have also stated here.

      Thank you very much for your comment I really really appreciate your input.

  • Letz Punk

    This is an interesting article…but I have to question what it has to do with the film Limitless?

    I mean, sure, you quoted it in the last section but the rest of the article seems more like an exercise in film theory than any kind of comment on the film. It’s like you’ve used this film to talk about your points but then totally forgot about the film until the final section.

    • Thanks for stopping by.

      You’re right about me using the film to discuss my points. The very nature of this site is pushing the mind to new extremes and not allowing external factors to impose limitations on ones self.

      The film did take a back seater, however I’m confident I discussed the finer points that are relevant to my readers.

      Of course you weren’t to know this as a first time visitor, but I hope that clears it up for you.

  • >> “It’s believed by scientist that we are only able to use ten percent of our brains.”

    Actually, I don’t think that’s true. I’m pretty certain that most scientists are confident that we’re using almost all 100% of our brain, and that the 10% number merely describes how much of the brain we clearly understand and/or have documented. And in fact, that number is probably much higher than 10% by now, but it was a reasonable estimate at the time when this popular myth entered common parlance.

    It would probably be more accurate to say, “This film is based on the popular belief that we only use our brains to 10% of their capacity.”

  • Good read, wholeheartedly agree. Whats more annoying about hollywood, is because of how effective films are at brainwashing, film directors perception of the concept introduced in films become the viewers own perception.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more Chris. As you can see in the comments i’ce been arguing this very point. Thanks for contributing your thoughts

  • Sorry for the late reply.

    You’re a wrong again. I don’t contradict myself. A film having the “Potential” to teach does not mean that it will in every case. Of course I’m speaking in a general sense. I can’t possibly make a statement that stands to be true in every context possible. Thats unrealistic. Asking the question “so they teach us but they dumb us down? which is it? ” twists my words once again.

    You make some good points about the drug aspect of Limitless I had not considered. However, my opinion does not change. Films weave ideas into our minds. The more you’re exposed to something the more it becomes part of you. Only a small minority of films convey a positive message.Limitless was my chosen example because it was current.

    My message is simple. Anyone can learn anything.

    your question about learning other things, which cannot be learned in a book is actually a post i have planned in the coming weeks 🙂

    I look forward to reading your comments there too. Be sure to subscribe and/or join the Facebook page to get updated.

    Your contributions were great. You get my mind thinking. The very reason I started this blog to learn from others as well as share the little I know 🙂

  • Kelrycandido

    I think you need to watch the movie 10 times and study a liltle bit more to understand the movie and write about it.

  • your right, thats right! , they use entertainment to baby feed our perceptions with a very low quality insertion but alot of ” sleight of hand” , but if thats true then theres no way out my friend. does it, i personally believe whats infront of you its always going to determine who you are, since we are intuational beings; even knowledge itself is the source of your limits. because everything learned comes from an limit source.

  • i personally believe limitless is a metaphor for cannabis, the whole concept fits perfectly with it, from the protagonist being a writer, the so mentioned ” its better when your already smart” to the tragic collapsed of the protagonist at the middle of the movie for “running out of suplies “, but, this only applies if the protagonist role is writer wich is actually the case. the only thing that doesnt fit to me is the stanky leg after effect from the second actors. what do you think about that?

  • Musashi

    I think the film is a metaphor that means: by taking no drugs at all you will improve your mental processes, hence the ‘clear pill’ in the movie actually means ‘no drugs at all’. It does not mean ‘placebo’ because ‘placebo’ is a substitute and works on motivation. I discovered this recently when I gave up alcohol ( all I take is coffee, 2 cups a day) and I was able to reach a natural mental state alluding to what what was presented in this movie. No alcohol provides increased mental clarity and energy, reduction in anxiety, increase in motivation, better judgement, better decision-making etc. Work improves and quality of life improves. The sun shines brighter much like the light effects in this movie, Good movie, by the way.

  • ben

    Sorry. I don’t find this article very relevant or intellectual. “… only exposed to in entertainment…”? Perhaps you ought read some science magazines. How old are you anyways?

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