The Moral of the Story

The lesson I learned from 10 Cloverfield Lane stems from the transformation of the main character throughout the movie. It is a simple yet powerful example of how our personalities and natures are not fixed. Sometimes it feels like our fates are predetermined based on the tendencies we are born with. The story told by this movie gives evidence to the contrary, showing each of us has the capacity to become more than we are.

The Story and the Moral

Cloverfield Lane provides insight into the personality of its main character right from the start of the movie. The opening scene shows a woman packing a suitcase in a hurried rush, tears fresh on her face. A ring on her finger is removed and left behind as she leaves the apartment and begins to drive out into the countryside. During the drive we hear from a voicemail her ex-finance begging her to just call and talk, apologizing for things getting out of hand. His final message is a plea for her stop running away from her problems, a glimpse into her personality.

Midway through the film, Michelle tells another character a story about her past. She was in a store and saw a little girl with her father. The father was tugging on the girl’s arm telling her to hurry up. But the man was pulling too hard and obviously hurting the child. Michelle wanted to say something, to yell at him to stop, but instead she just stood there until they had left the store. Once they had gone she ran away, crying at her cowardliness. A key phrase from the scene, “I ran away like I always do”. When we look at this scene combined with the opening scene of the movie it clearly paints Michelle as someone who runs away from problems and conflict. A core piece of her personality is her inability to deal with confrontation.

This part of her personality changes by the end of the film, whether survival instinct or a hidden source of courage Michelle overcomes her timid nature. If we strip away all other elements of the movie, it is a narrative on how it is possible to overcome our innate tendencies and natures. Whether through strength of will, repetition of habit, or something more unconscious within ourselves, we have the ability to change.

Life and the Moral

I remember growing up being told that you have the potential to become anything you desire. My parents would say, “You can be anything you want when you grow up.” At a young age, as I imagine many of us did, I dreamed of being an astronaut or a pilot, a fireman or archaeologist. Anything grand and adventurous was an option! But as I grew older, I began to see how people were better suited to certain types of jobs based on their personality. The idea that I could be anything dwindled as I contemplated the fact that my personality would likely limit my career options. There does seem to be truth to this as extroverted and social people seem to make the best salesmen or introverted shy personalities lean towards technological careers. At first glance it seems people’s roles in life are predetermined by their inherent personality type. Even in my own life, when it comes to accomplishing personal goals, it often feels like I am my own worst enemy.

Thankfully, these thoughts are exaggerated by my worried mind and hold a limited place in reality. The world is filled with examples of people who are able to adapt their personalities to better suit a chosen career path. Personalities have many layers with most people showing only certain sides of themselves based the situation. I find myself doing the same and have learned to hone certain aspects of personality to better fit the role I am in. Whether or not these new facets of my character have changed who I truly am is a topic discussed more in depth by my article on the game, BioShock Infinite. What matters is that my destiny is not decided by my innate personality type, and 10 Cloverfield Lane re-affirmed this belief. The movie points directly to the ability overcome the tendencies of one’s personality as Michelle overcomes her fear and stops running from conflict. While the motivating words my parents spoke to an imaginative little child have held no credence since the lens of childhood was lifted, I have begun to see a shade of truth to their words. My strengths and weaknesses define who I am today, not who I will be tomorrow.