The Secret (2006)
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Writer:Rhonda Byrne (original concept)
Release Date: 13 September 2007 (Austria) more
Tagline: The Secret has traveled through centuries ...to reach you.
Plot: Interviews with leading authors, philosophers, scientists, with an in-depth discussion of the Law of Attraction. The audience is shown how they can learn and use 'The Secret' in their everyday lives. full summary | add synopsis
The Secret, described as a self-help film,  uses a documentary format to present the Law of Attraction. This law is the "secret" that, according to the tagline, "has traveled through centuries to reach you." The film features the short dramatized experiences and interviews of a team called personal transformation specialists, spiritual messengers, feng shui masters, and other experts. As described in the film, the "Law of Attraction" principle posits that feelings and thoughts can attract events, from the workings of the cosmos to interactions among individuals in their physical, emotional, and professional affairs. The film also suggests that there has been a strong tendency by those in positions of power to keep this central principle hidden from the public. The previews or "clues" to the film, show men who "uncovered the Secret...".
Julie Ann Storr, founder of Nibbana (Sydney) in a how-to of the film's tenets, reports, "it all starts with gratitude" and Stephanie Whittaker of Montréal's The Gazette notes, "proponents ... talk about a universal intelligence that responds to our desires. The film encourages the viewer to see "the Universe [as] 'a catalog' that we can flip through and shop" and from which we can surround ourselves with "positive" people. Visualization and Vision boards—anything on which one has placed images of what one wants—are recommended as aids for manifesting desires. Paul Harrington, the co-producer, uses his computer's screen saver as a vision board. The Secret lists three required steps — "ask, believe, receive" — as the essence of the Law of Attraction:
Step† Commentary by Gazette Commentary by Nibbana
Ask Know what you want and ask the universe for it. This is where you need to get clear on what it is you want to create and visualise what you want as being as 'real' as possible.
Believe† Feel and behave as if the object of your desire is on its way. Focus your thoughts and your language on what it is you want to attract. You want to feel the feeling of really 'knowing' that what you desire is on its way to you, even if you have to trick yourself into believing it – do it.
Receive Be open to receiving it. Pay attention to your intuitive messages, synchronicities, signs from the Universe to help you along the way as assurance you are on the 'right' path. As you align yourself with the Universe and open yourself up to receiving, the very thing you are wanting to manifest will show up.
† In the earlier (first) edition, Esther Hicks listed the three steps as: "ask, answer, receive". In the first edition, she describes the step "answer" as "an answer to what you're asking ... what the universe does for you". (Hicks declined to continue with the project, mentioning contractual issues in a letter to friends.)
Teachers of the Law of Attraction
The film interviews "professionals" and "authors" in the fields of quantum physics, psychology, metaphysics, coaching, theology, philosophy, finance, feng shui, medicine, and personal development, who are referred to as "secret teachers". Some of these individuals, at their Web sites, promote the film and their connection to it. A few of the individuals with only brief appearances do not specifically speak of the "Law of Attraction" in their interviews, so their support of the concepts is based on viewer assumption.
Individuals who focus on the "Law of Attraction", are interviewed in the film, and have later been featured on prominent American TV shows, are: Rusty G. Parrish, John Assaraf, Dr. Rev. Michael Beckwith, Dr. John Demartini, Bob Proctor, Jack Canfield, James Arthur Ray, "Dr." Joe Vitale, Lisa Nichols, Marie Diamond, and Dr. John Gray. Other people involved in the film, who have spoken of their strong belief in the Law of Attraction include Esther Hicks and Jerry Hicks  (original edition only), Mike Dooley, Bob Doyle, David Schirmer, and Marci Shimoff. Others interviewed in the film, and who voice very similar views without actually using the phrase "Law of Attraction" include: Lee Brower, Hale Dwoskin, Cathy Goodman, Morris E. Goodman, Dr. John Hagelin, Bill Harris, Dr. Ben Johnson, Loral Langemeier, Dr. Denis Waitley, Neale Donald Walsch, and Dr. Fred Alan Wolf. Also included are quotes by historical figures, who the film claims were "secret teachers". In a voiceover, producer Rhonda Byrne says, "I can't believe all the people who knew this; they were the greatest people in history," referring to them as "past secret teachers." The people identified include: Hermes Trismegistus, Buddha, Aristotle, W. Clement Stone, Plato, Isaac Newton, Martin Luther King Jr., Carl Jung, Victor Hugo, Henry Ford, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Robert Collier, Winston Churchill, Andrew Carnegie, Joseph Campbell, Alexander Graham Bell, and Ludwig van Beethoven.
Historical foundations in New Thought ideas
The authors of The Secret cite the New Thought movement that began in the late 19th century as the historical basis for their ideas.
Essentially, The Secret is ... touting the principles of New Thought and Unity Christianity. The teachers of The Secret have been regulars on New Thought/Unity circuit for years — now more "prosperous" than ever. - Illuminati
The New Thought book The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace Wattles, the source of Rhonda Byrne's inspiration for the film, was preceded by numerous other New Thought books, including the 1906 book Thought Vibration or the Law of Attraction in the Thought World by William Walker Atkinson, editor of New Thought magazine. Other New Thought books Byrne is purported to have read include self-help authors like Charles F. Haanel's The Master Key System from 1912; Prentice Mulford's 19th-century Thoughts Are Things; and Robert Collier's Secret of the Ages from 1926.
The fast-paced, opening sequences of the film portray the alleged history of The Secret — showing:
In a sequence titled, "The Secret was Buried:"
The text of the Emerald Tablet being copied on to a scroll and given to a priest.
The Emerald Tablet being buried near the Pyramids of Giza.
Followed by a sequence titled, "The Secret was Coveted:"
The ornate title page of the 1906 book The Life Power and How To Use It by Elizabeth Towne
A Knight Templar giving the scroll to a Catholic priest.
Scroll with text of the Emerald Tablet being analyzed by alchemist St. Germain.
A drawing of the Azoth of the Philosophers in the alchemist' shop.
Followed by a sequence titled, "The Secret was Suppressed:"
A series of brief scenes of the business elite meeting in a contemporary board room.
Portrayal of ideas preceding the New Thought movement
The Secret website cites the Emerald Tablet, supposedly written by Hermes Trismegistus (purportedly a "secret teacher"), as "... one of the most important historical documents known to mankind". Byrne posits that the earliest trace of "the secret" occurred in the Emerald Tablet, followed much later by the Rosicrucians — a "secret order that espoused many of the ideas of The Secret." Mention is made of Victor Hugo and Ludwig van Beethoven's supposed membership in the order as well as Isaac Newton's purported work in translating the tablet.
Carolyn Sackariason of the Aspen Times, when commenting about Byrne's intention to share The Secret with the world, identifies the Rosicrucians as keepers of The Secret:
"The Mastery of Life" [ a Rosicrucian teaching similar to The Secret ] is not difficult to grasp, but the secret of the Rosicrucian tradition has been protected and preserved for thousands of years, shown only to those who have proven a true desire to know.
Neither the words "Emerald Tablet" nor "Rosicrucian" are spoken in the film, however, at key transition points the screen image rapidly zooms in on the word "Rosicrucian".
Elements in opening sequences
Many elements pass quickly in the cinematic, historical sequences at the beginning of the film and are not explained or otherwise mentioned in the film (listed in the order in which they appear — excepting Rosicrucian element):
[show]Element Related detail Significance
The film was created by Prime Time Productions of Melbourne Australia with Rhonda Byrne, executive producer; Paul Harrington, producer; and Drew Heriot, director. Gozer Media of Collingwood, a suburb of Melbourne, is the design house responsible for the visual style and feel of the film and book. Byrne's company TS Production LLC, a Hungarian company, is responsible for marketing and distribution of the film and book. Byrne commented about the research she did prior to making the film:
So I sat down and did a huge list of everything I had read ... and when I finished the list I handed it to them [the film production team]. They said that's impossible, you couldn't read that many books in a year, two years, and I had read all of those books in two and a half weeks - and well, that's The Secret.
Byrne's inspiration for creating The Secret came from reading the 1910 book The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles. The film was done as a project for Channel Nine an Australian TV Network. Nine put up less than 25% of the $3 million project with additional funding from mortgaging Byrne's home and from an investment by Bob Rainone, "a former Internet executive in Chicago". Rainone became the CEO of one of Byrne's companies, The Secret LLC, and is described by Byrne as, "delivered to us from heaven".
Shooting of the interviews was done in July and August of 2005 with editing "effectively completed by Christmas time". About 55 teachers and authors were interviewed at locations including Chicago, Aspen, Alaska, and a Mexican Riviera Cruise (interviewing Esther Hicks). The film uses 24 of these teachers in the "Extended Edition" of the film. The first edition featured a 25th teacher, Esther Hicks, known "as the most prominent interpreter of the Law of Attraction". Since the first release of the DVD, Esther Hicks declined to continue with the project, mentioning contractual issues in a letter to friends. Her 10% share of sales netted the Hickses $500,000. As a result of this, scenes with Esther Hicks, are instead narrated by Lisa Nichols and Marci Shimoff. No other "secret teachers" received compensation for their appearance in the film — revealed by Bob Proctor in an interview on Nightline.
Betsy Chasse, one of the producers, directors, and screenwriters for What the Bleep Do We Know!? interviewed Paul Harrington, the co-producer of The Secret. In the interview, Harrington gave this description of Byrne's production methods:
We used the law of attraction during the making of the program. We went very unconventional, in terms of scheduling and budgeting. We allowed things to come to us... We just had faith that things would come to us.
Channel Nine, after viewing the completed film, chose to not broadcast it. A new contract was negotiated with all DVD sales going to Byrne's companies (Prime Time, and The Secret LLC). In hindsight, Len Downs of Channel Nine commented, "we looked at it and we didn't deem it as having broad, mass appeal". The film was eventually broadcast by Channel Nine on 3 February 2007. Downs reported that "it didn't do all that well"
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