I didn’t feel merely seized by episode #2 of Howard Suber’s The Power of Film series (TCM, 1.4 through 2.8). I felt transformed, understood, opened up.

The episode is called “Trapped”, and it’s about more, I would say, than just cinematic instruction. It’s about me and my whole damn life…the whole journey and then some.

There are four key optionals, Suber says, that define characters who have mattered the most to audiences over the decades — destiny, fate, courage, defiance.

Fate is what you are — what you’re born with and will be with you until you die — whereas destiny is a choice that you need to act upon. It’s seizing life and refusing to be victimized or marginalized.

Not “changing the world” but changing your relationship to the world that you’re dealing with.

Society wants the bad guys dispensed with, but the heroic vanquisher, it often seems, must be exiled, isolated and made into a scapegoat. But we will remember him or her forever. And to live in the memory is one of the greatest powers of all.

We’re all trapped. Trapped by bad jobs, by our families, by our ethnicity, trapped by indecision and by cowardice, trapped in our schools, trapped in bad relationships, trapped by our friendships.

“Trapped”, Suber says, could be the title of nearly all memorable films. Because people go to these films to have a persistent question answered — “how do I get out of this?”

Movies say over and over you can escape the traps and fulfill your destiny — but what you have to do is act.

Here’s a credit-crawl rundown of clips used in this episode:

There are six Power of Film episodes — two down and four to go (“Character Relationships”, “Heroes and Villains”, “The Power of Paradox”, “Love and Meaning”).