Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1973) - full transcript

Jonathan is sick and tired of the boring life in his sea-gull clan. He rather experiments with new, always more daring flying techniques. Since he doesn't fit in, the elders expel him from the clan. So he sets out to discover the world beyond the horizon in quest for wisdom.


On a painted sky

Where the clouds are hung
for the poet's eye

You may find him

If you may find him


On a distant shore

By the wings of dreams

Through an open door

You may know him

If you may


As a page that aches for a word

Which speaks on a theme
that is timeless

And the one God
will make for your day


As a song in search
of a voice that is silent

And the Sun God
will make for your way

And we dance

To a whispered voice

Overheard by the soul
Undertook by the heart

And you may know it

If you may know it

While the sand would become the stone

Which begat the spark

Turned to living bone

Holy, holy

Sanctus, sanctus


As a page that aches for a word

Which speaks on a theme
that is timeless

And the one God
will make for your day


As a song in search
of a voice that is silent

And the one God
will make for your way

Why? Why can't I...?

That's not the answer.

I just can't flap my wings fast enough.

Maybe seagulls can't fly
faster than 62 miles per hour.

But wouldn't it be great if we could?

I wonder how high I could really fly,

what the world would look like
from way up there.

My wings are heavy.

I don't feel steady.

I didn't fall all the way.

I can do it.

I've got to make it higher
than anyone's ever flown before.

I can.

I can see everywhere.

How am I gonna tell them?
How am I gonna say it?

Mother, Father

I hope you'll understand.

This time you have to.

I've found things
that will change our lives.

There's such a world out there.

None of us
have ever seen it or felt it.

I've just flown up today
higher than we ever fly,

far above the highest clouds.

But you can see.

I mean, you can see everywhere.

For the first time in my life
I see where we live.

Son, we looked everywhere
for you the last few days.

The elders in the flock
are talking about you.

They know you fly off on your own,

where we never fly.

They don't understand it.
They will not allow it.

Not allow me to learn? Why?

Oh, I can understand
your dreams, Jonathan.

We all dream of better things
when we're young.

I'm afraid

for you.

I'm afraid of what you're doing.

Maybe this isn't the best life,
but it's all we know.

Winter's coming.

The flock must stay together to survive.

We were meant
to live the way we live, accept it.

Take your place.

Will you try, Son?

If you don't,
we will have all lived for nothing.

We weren't meant to live this way.

I know you're wrong.

But... I'll try.

Maybe the secret is fixed wings.

Flap up to 50
and hold the wings still.

I'll bet that's it.

Fifty and still.

It won't hurt anybody
if I try that. Will it?

It won't hurt anybody,
take away anybody's freedom

if I just slip out and give it a try.

Nothing to worry about.

Just a very simple thing here.

I'm going to make a simple dive,
to 50 miles per hour

and hold the wings steady
and go straight on down.

Here we go.

This is it.

Thirty, 40, 50...

No. No! Pull out!

I... I can't do it.

I'll be killed.

What is this? I'm afraid.

I'm on the right way of doing this,
and I'm afraid.

So, what are you going to do?

You going to glide around here for
the rest of your life without trying?

If you're scared, go back to the flock
where everyone else is scared too.

Sixty... 70.

Faster than any seagull has ever...


There's got to be more
to life than fighting

for some fish head somewhere.

There's no way around it.

If I was meant to learn
so much about flying,

I'd have charts for brains.

If I were meant to fly fast,
I'd have a falcon's short wings,

live on mice instead of fish.

I've got to live with what I am.

I promise this day
that I will be a seagull

like every other seagull.

Does my life end here?

I can't believe that.

I wasn't born to drown in this ocean.

I can die here,

or I can force myself to fly.

It's in me.

It's in me!

I've got to try.

I've got to get back home.

At last I can stop thinking,
for once in my life.

Just stop thinking

and fly towards the lights in the dark.


Seagulls never fly in the dark.

Get down.

If you were meant to fly in the dark,
you'd have the eyes of an owl.

You'd have charts for brains.

You'd have a falcon's short wings.

A falcon's short wings.

I dive on the wingtips only.

Why didn't I think?

Short wings. Short wings.

Faster than any seagull anywhere. Ever!

I'll teach the others.
I'll show the flock how!

I did it!

It works.

Short wings all controlled. It works!

I must have hit 1 70 in the dive,
and that was just a short dive.

What will I hit if I dive
from 1 0,000 feet?

A quick roll in, fold the wings,
just the tips out in the air,

take her straight down
just like last night,

and we'll see
just how fast a seagull can fly.

One-eighty! One-ninety!

Oh, God! The flock!

Look out!

The elders. The whole flock.

They believe me now.

They finally understand.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull

you have been called here

to be judged in the sight of your flock.

Jonathan Gull,
for your reckless flying,

for refusing to join the flock
to which you were born,

for turning your back
upon the traditions of your flock,

assembled here.

I haven't turned my back.

I want to share what I've found
with all of you.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull,
you do not live as we live.

You do not fly as we fly.

You do not believe as we believe.

You will learn that life is the unknown

and the unknowable.

We are put into this world
to survive any way we can,

as long as we can.

I don't believe that.

Jonathan Seagull,
the brotherhood is broken.

Never again will you
see any of your flock.

Never again will you have
the protection of your flock.

You are henceforth and forever outcast!


- Jonathan.
- Why, Jonathan? Why?

No. This is not your sky.

This is my sky! My sky!

Stay out! My sky!

I will fly where a seagull
has never flown before.

I will see every land, every ocean.

I will know all there is
to know of this life.

Who are you?

Hello, Jonathan.

We're from your new flock.

We're your brothers.

We've come to show you a higher place.

I don't have any flock.

I'm old, I'm tired.

I can't fly any higher.

But you can, Jonathan.

For you have learned.

One school is finished,
and it is time for another to begin.


I see.

Am I an outcast here too?

Jonathan, we've come to take you home.

It's time to begin.

I don't know quite where I am.

Have I slept a long time?

Only for a short while.

I'm Maureen, your instructor here.

We're going to learn together.


Your name came into my mind
even before you said it.

Welcome home.

Home? I've never been here before.

Maybe not.
Feels like home though, doesn't it?

Everything feels different.

Where is everybody?

Why aren't there more of us here?

The only answer I can see, Jonathan,

is that you were pretty well
a one-in-a-million bird.

Most of us came along ever so slowly.

We went from one world into another
that was almost exactly like it,

forgetting right away
where we'd come from,

not caring where we were headed,

living for the moment.

Do you have any idea how many lives
we must have gone through

before we even got the first idea
that there is more to life

than eating or fighting
or power in the flock?

Many lives, Jon.

And then other lives to learn that
there is such a thing as perfection.

And others again, to finally get
the idea that our purpose for living

is to find that perfection

and show it forth.

But you, Jonathan,
learned so much at one time

that you didn't have to go
through 1 00 lives to reach this one.

My life back there,
I don't remember very well.

Everything's blurred, I...

All those years.

Cast out? Alone?

Yes. But it was a fine life.

Didn't you say you know me
from somewhere?

I believe there were
many somewheres.

I know what it is to speak,
to feel and never to be heard.

Can I really learn
to fly without limits?

Maybe you'll find something
that will mean even more to you

than flying without limits.

To learn what perfection really is.

Let's try some real flying now.

You're adjusting very well
to your new body, and to the air here.

It's almost time for you
to meet the elders here.

I don't want to see
an elder as long as I...


Are you afraid to say ''live''?

Have you ever felt more alive? Happier?

No, that's...
that's just the point. I...

I don't want any elder
telling me what I can't do.

This is your new flock, Jonathan.

What was that?


Look up there.

Oh, I was afraid he'd gone away.

Jonathan, that's Chiang.

Not bad, for a feeble old elder.

Maureen, I never saw
anyone fly like that.

Good evening, Maureen.


Good evening, Chiang.

Hello, sir.

It's an honour to meet you.

The honour is mine, Jonathan Seagull.


He learns well?

A little impatient is all.

He knows everything I know.

And more now.

Maureen, how can you say that?
I have so much to learn.

You know so much more than I.

Jonathan, you know it now.

You still need to practise
smoothness and patience,

but you know the flying very well.

I still have questions.

Ask whatever you want.

I... Well...

Chiang, this world
isn't heaven at all, is it?

Where we are now.

It isn't heaven at all.

Who said it was?

Heaven isn't a place.

Heaven's perfection.
Wouldn't you think?

And we don't go there,
as much as we express it.

Does that sound true to you?


I suppose.

You're a very fast flyer.

Well, I... I enjoy travelling quickly,

but I don't like limits.

I want to fly faster than I can now
and higher and learn more.

I can fly 276 miles per hour now.

Level. That's pretty fast,
but it's not fast enough.

Don't ask me why,
but it just isn't fast enough.

What is fast enough, Jonathan?

You who are impatient to be perfect.

What is perfect speed?


perfect speed.

A thousand miles per hour?

That's a limit.

A million miles an hour?

That's a limit.

Speed of light?

That's a limit too.

They're all limits.

Perfect speed, my son,
isn't moving fast at all.

Perfect speed is being there.


Maureen, did you see that?

He says we can all learn that,

whenever we want to learn it.

The next life maybe.

It is not so difficult, Jonathan,

once we understand.

I want to understand, now.

What does it feel like?

How far can you go?

To any place, to any time

that you wish to go.

I've gone everywhere
and every-when I can think of.

After a while, one begins to think

that space and time are not quite real.

Can you teach me to fly like that?

Of course. If you want to learn.

Yes, I want. When can we start?
I'll do anything.

Maureen, did you see...?
I've got to learn.

How do you do it?
I mean, how...?

First, you let your teacher
get a word in edgewise.

I'm sorry, Chiang.

It's just that all my life...

I can't explain it.
...I've had this...

This need to know.

To fly as fast as thought,
to anywhere that is now,

or ever has been or ever will be,

you begin by knowing
that you've already arrived.

I beg your pardon?

I am already there,
on that highest peak.

I am not limited by any body.

I am not limited by space.

I am not limited by time.

I am a perfect expression
of freedom, here and now.

All right, here I go.

I am going right... now!




Can I bring you anything?



I have to do this.

I don't care how long
I have to stand here, I will do it.

Would you like to take a break?

Good evening, sir, I...

I'm concentrating as hard as I can.

I just can't get it.

Jon, you don't need faith.

You don't need faith to fly.

You need to understand flying,
don't you?

To learn certain facts
about things you cannot see.

This is just the same.

I am a perfect expression
of freedom and flight.

Why am I thinking that way?

This isn't some ritual.

Real is real.

I really am a perfect idea.

It works. It really works.

Well, of course it works, Jonathan.

It always works
when you know what you're doing.

Now, about your control...

Well, it's different anyway.

We're trapped in here.

There's no way out of here.

Jonathan, there's a way out.

Oh... yes.

But why did I come here at all?

Like attracts like.

Wherever your thought is,
that is where your body is going to be,

sooner or later.

You're just learning to do it sooner.

Did you want to be walled away,
to think this over?

Here you are.

Try it again.

And hold your thought
on something you've always loved.

I know things I love, but I'm not sure.

Do it. I'm with you.

I have always liked stars.

It is a fine view.

And a good place to be alone.

But so much of love is giving,
don't you think?

Sharing the very best you know
with someone who's trying to learn.

Try it again,
and this time, think giving.

No special names or place.

Just think love
and see where you turn up.


Any time.

What's this?

What's happening?

My old flock. I don't love them.

Don't you, Jonathan?

Well, I always did want to give them
what I'd learned about flying,

if that's what you mean by love,

but I never found the way.

When the time is right
for you to give to them,

nothing can keep it from happening.

When it's wrong,
nothing can make it be.

I can't see how that can ever happen.

Don't worry about it.

Try it, once more now.

Think love and being in the place
that's right for you to be now.

Hello, Maureen.

Hello, Jonathan.

The time's come for me to leave you.

There are others I must help.

And there is more for me to learn.

You can't leave now. l've only begun.

Jonathan Seagull,
someday you will know

how long ago your flight began

and how great a journey
you have travelled.

Now you are ready
to begin the most difficult

and the most powerful journey of all.

You are ready to fly up and know
the meaning of kindness and love.

Jonathan, you were born
to be a teacher,

to give the truth to anyone
struggling to break out of his limits.

It is important to give
what you have found, as a gift,

to whomever will accept it.

Chiang, I know I'll see you again.

Of course you will, and, Jonathan,

keep working on love.

What's the matter?

How much more I would've known,
if someone like Chiang

had come along the day
I was an outcast.

What a different life I would have had.

What a different life
the flock back there would've had.

Maureen, I have to go back.

We're always parting.

We're always saying goodbye.

I know you don't want me to go.

I know my old flock
doesn't care what flying is.

They don't care about learning.

They don't care about looking
beyond what they see with their eyes,

but, Maureen, there's got to be
somebody in that time who cares.

Jonathan, go with my love.

Maureen, goodbye for now.

I love who you are, Jonathan.

Fletcher Lynd Seagull,

you were born to us,
but you are not part of us.

You cry against the flock

and against the law.

You ask questions,
answered 1 ,000 years ago.

You do not wish
the protection of the flock.

And you shall not have it.

You are henceforth and forever


I don't want your protection.

You're gonna wish you never...

All your ''henceforth and forever.''

It's not gonna be me
who needs protection.

It's not gonna be me!

I don't care what they say.

There's one hell of a lot more to flying

than just flapping around from A to B.

A mosquito can do that.

One little barrel roll around the elder
to show him what's possible,

and I'm outcast.

Can't they see?

Can't they...
they think of the glory it'll be

when we really find out how to fly?

Damn the flock.

I'll be outlaw all right.

Outlaw like they never saw before.

I'll make them so sorry.

Don't hurt them, Fletcher Seagull.

Who are you?

In casting you out, the other gulls
have only hurt themselves,

and one day they will know this,
and one day they will see what you see.

Forgive them and help them understand.

I don't understand.

Fletcher Lynd Seagull,
do you want to learn to fly?

Do you want to fly so much that you
will forgive the flock? And learn?

And go back to them one day
and help them know?

I do!

Then, Fletcher, let's begin
with level flight.

We're all outcasts.

We're all friends.

We're learning to fly
just for the fun of it.

Take your time.

Your whole body
from wingtip to wingtip

is nothing more
than your thought itself,

in a form you can see.

Break the chains of your thought,

and you break the chains
of your body too.

That's fine, Fletcher. Judy Lee.

Fly it nice and loose
until you get used to formation flying.

We'll just go on practicing,

and you can slide in closer
whenever you feel like it.

Fletcher, it's time to go.

Time to go where, Jonathan?

Back to the flock.

We have a gift to give.

But we're not ready.

We're not welcome.
Jonathan, we're outcast.

We can't force ourselves
where we're not welcome, can we?

And it's the law of the flock!

We're free to go where we wish
and to be what we are.

Why should we bother with the flock?

Seagulls are the laziest,
dirtiest, most vicious...

Suspicious, clumsiest.
A seagull hardly knows how to walk.

But don't you see, Fletcher?
A seagull wasn't made to walk.

He was made to fly,
and when he learns to fly,

he's the purest, loveliest,
most graceful creature alive.

True for you, true for me,
true for all the flock.

We can soar free across the sky,
but how often we don't want to.

That's the gift we can give,

to help those who want to learn
find what they love to do.

It is the law of the flock
that an outcast never returns.

Anyone who follows them,
anyone who listens to them,

anyone who turns his back on the flock
will be outcast too!

I only wish to share what I've learned.

The very simple fact
that it is right for a gull to fly

because freedom
is the very nature of his being.

Whatever stands against that freedom
must be set aside.

We don't need ritual
and superstitions to live.

The law of the flock decides!

Do you speak of law?
Is it the law which decrees

we must fight among ourselves
just to feed on garbage?

It can't be!

The only true law
is that which sets us free.

There can be no other.

How can you expect us
to fly as you fly?

You are special and gifted and divine,

above other birds.

Look at Fletcher,
Charles-Roland, Judy Lee.

Are they also special
and gifted and divine?

No more than you are.

No more than I am.

The only difference, the very only one,

is that they have begun to understand
what they really are

and have begun to practise it.

What if we could fly like that?

They're outcasts. Ignore them.

Don't listen to him. Ignore him!

Ignore them.

Ignore them all. They're outcasts.

Anyone who looks upon an outcast
breaks the law of the flock!

Ignore them.

Ignore him!

Each of us finds and follows
what we most love to do,

no matter what others think.

And this brings us automatically
to discover more of who we really are.

There's a law there,
a principle like aerodynamics,

that simply does not fail.

You can count on it.

- Help me.
- Hello, Kirk Maynard.

I want to fly more than anything
in the world. Please.

We can start learning right now.

You don't understand.

My wing.

I can't move my wing.

You have the freedom to be yourself,

your true self, here and now,
and nothing can stand in your way.

Are you saying I can fly?

Kirk Maynard can't fly.
He was born crippled.

- He's never been off the ground.
- You're free, Kirk Maynard.



I can fly.

I can fly!

Listen, I can fly.

I can fly!

This Fletcher says he'll
come right down here

in front of us at 200 miles an hour.

Just to prove it.

If he can learn it, I can learn it.

- I'll believe it when he shows us how.
- I'm sorry, I just don't believe it.

A normal seagull like you and me is
not meant to fly at 200 miles an hour.

Somewhere up there Fletcher's flying.

I've known him since he was your age.

I'm afraid, Mother.
I want to go with you.

Stay here. I want you safe.

Here we go. They won't believe it
till they see it with their eyes,

till we prove it especially for them.

Listen, we should be able to hear him.

Quiet, I think I hear him.

I'm ready.

- Here he comes!
- Do you believe now?

- I can't.
- Mother. Mother! Where are you?

Look at that baby bird! He's in
Fletcher's way! He'll get killed!

I had to.

I would have hit him.

- But why?
- The trick, Fletcher,

is that we're trying to overcome
our limitations in order, patiently.

We don't go flying through rock
until a little later in the programme.


Also known as the Son of the Great Gull?

What are you doing here? The...

The cliff.

There was a...
a baby gull gliding down.

Haven't I...?

Didn't I... die?

Oh, Fletcher, come on, think.

If you're talking to me now,
then obviously you didn't die, did you?

You merely changed your level
of thinking... rather abruptly.

It's your choice now. You can stay here
and learn on this level,

which is quite a bit higher
than the one you left, by the way,

or you can go back
and keep working in the flock.

The elders were hoping
for some kind of disaster,

but they're startled
that you would oblige them so well.

I want to go back to the flock.

Of course! There's a new group...

I haven't even begun.

You're sure you wouldn't rather stay?

Let's get going.

All right, Fletcher.
Remember what we were saying

about our body being nothing
more than thought itself?



It's true.

Jon, I'm beginning to see.

- He's alive!
- He touched him with a feather.

- Brought him to life!
- He is the Son of the Great Gull.

It's a trick! Don't listen to him!

He's a devil!

He's the devil!

He is the devil. He is the devil!

I tell you he is the devil!

He can destroy us all!

He can destroy the flock!

Kill him!

Kill him!

Kill him!

Kill him!

Kill him!

Would you feel better if we left?

They wanted to kill us!

How did we get away?

Like everything else,
Fletcher, practice.

I don't understand.

The flock was gonna kill us.
Our own flock!

Why? Remember what you said
about loving the flock enough

to return to them and help them live?
They wanted us dead.

They're a mob. They're killers.

How can you love them?

You don't love hatred and evil,
of course.

You have to practise and see the good
in every one of them

and help them see it in themselves.
That's what we mean by love.

It's fun...
when you get the idea of it.

I remember a fierce young bird,
for instance.

Fletcher Lynd Seagull, his name.

Just been made outcast,
ready to fight the flock to the death,

getting a start on building his own
bitter hell out on the far cliffs.

And here he is today,
building his own heaven instead

and leading the whole flock
in that direction.

Me? Leading?

You're the instructor here.

You can't leave us.

Don't you think there might be
other flocks, other Fletchers

that need an instructor now
more than this one?

But me, Jon?
I'm just a plain seagull, and you're...

Oh, yes, yes, yes, I know.

The only Son of the Great Gull,
I suppose.

Fletcher, you don't need me anymore.

All the younger ones in the flock
and some of the others too

are ready to follow you now.

All you need is to keep finding
the real, unlimited Fletcher Seagull.

He's your instructor.

And don't let them spread
silly rumours about me

or try to make me some
sort of a god, will you, Fletcher?

I'm a seagull. I like to fly, maybe.


We both have learned what we were meant
to learn in our time together, Fletcher.

That the way to find perfection
and love is within us.

Look with your understanding.

Find out what you already know.

Use it, Fletcher.

Teach it, show it forth.

And you'll know the way to fly.


On a painted sky

Where the clouds are hung
For the poet's eye

You may find him

If you may find him


On a distant shore

By the wings of dreams

Through an open door

You may know him

If you may


As a page that aches for a word

Which speaks on a theme that is timeless

And the one God will make for your day


As a song in search of a voice that is silent

And the sun God will make for your way

And we dance

To a whispered voice

Overheard by the soul,

Undertook by the heart

And you may know it

If you may know it

While the sand would become the stone

Which began the spark

Turned to living bone




As a page that aches for a word

Which speaks on a theme that is timeless

And the one God will make for your day


As a song in search of a voice that is silent

And the one God will make for your way