Obsessed with the "beautiful" nostalgia of the past, Cassidy has made a frightfully common mistake: he has assumed that ordinary, everyday life isn't romantic, when the truth of the matter is subtly (but vitally) different. It's not that ordinary life isn't romantic; it's that it isn't romanticized. Cassidy has mistaken flashy appearances for the truly worthwhile struggles of everyday life, and his inability to embrace ordinary challenges of living will prevent him from ever achieving the folk hero status he so desperately desires.
For many of us, the struggles and tribulations of our unimpressive lives are all too real. Yet those struggles are no match for the rewards that accompany a life well-lived. No matter how insignificant our reality may seem in comparison with the excitement pursued by Cassidy and his cohorts, the heroism of confronting and overcoming the real will always trump a lifetime spent in the shadow world of Nostalgic Romanticism.
(This week's Lens is the first of a two-part series. Next week, we will examine Blackthorn—the 2011 film that posits Butch Cassidy's escape from the final catastrophic shootout with the Bolivian army. Both Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Blackthorn are available through Netflix's Streaming Instantly.)