National Treasure - Freemasons' Gold
Now that the film, National Treasure has been out on DVD for some time, I doubt that I will upset anyone by discussing the ending. For those who have yet to see the film, stop reading now because this article contains a spoiler.
I will leave aside the glib provenance of the eponymous treasure, through ancient history to the Knights Templar and their 'creation' of the Order of Freemasonry (in America!) to hide it, as a discussion which would expand beyond the scope of this column.
An opportunity missed
Towards the end of the film our intrepid heroes are ushered into the chamber at the bottom of the shaft beneath the church to find it empty. Gates, father and son convince the villain, Ian Howe (Sean Bean), to head off on a wild goose-chase to Boston, leaving them to their fate. When I first saw the film, I was struck by the great opportunity which the film-makers had missed at this juncture.
Now, I know that a vast roomful of gold and priceless artefacts makes for exciting cinematic viewing, but I would have preferred the the Gates' had justified the empty room by explaining that the true 'gold', the 'treasure' of Freemasonry is their teachings.
Starting with the new Initiate, through a series of moral and symbolic lectures, his character is refined and purified. The transmutation of the base characteristics into the purest representation of the principles of Freemasonry is how our Order counts its true wealth.
While our film heroes could stand in an empty room seeking gold, the treasure of Freemasons could not be contained within a single room, indeed it could not even be considered a 'national' treasure as it exceeds all national boundaries, reaching every part of the globe.
After finding the treasure-house and returning to the surface, Gates (Nicholas Cage) discusses his options with Agent Sadusky (Harvey Keitel), whom we discover to be a Freemason. Sadusky makes an observation that the Knights Templar and the Freemasons believed that the treasure was too great for any one man.
How true this is when you consider that its wealth exists only in the actions of all the Brethren who adhere to our principles.