The next-to-the-first re-watching of ‘The Edge’ movie brings to light new interpretations of the movie language within the given story. In the very moment Charles Morse ravens to here birthday greeting from his young wife above all, she admires favorably about his decision to join the photo crew in their journey to Alaska landscapes. As far as we approve the understanding that Charles had a vision of his wife cheating with Robert Green, his initiaveness regarding this trip gains an additional motivational layer. While having all the power and wealth, Morse has been in a position to devastate the life of a young opponent at any moment without even leaving his office or a cabin of the private plane. Yet the protagonist of the story has made a sane decision to use this journey as a starting point for the own changes in life. There is a strong, yet hidden, possibility that the ‘l tell you what…I’m going to start my life over’ words had been visualized by Charles weeks or even months before the panoramas of Alaska fulfilled the illuminator. Looking further forward, Morse has made his mind not to leave in shame and, of course, not to give his life achievements in favor of a disreputable woman and her lover, obsessed with wealth and social weight.


CHARLES: They die of shame.


CHARLES: Yeah. They die of shame. ‘What did l do wrong? How could l have gotten myseIf into this?’ And so they sit there, and they…die. They didn’t do the one thing that would’ve saved their lives.

STEPHEN: And what is that, Charles?

CHARLES: Thinking.

A few minutes after the collapse of the plane in the freezy water of the lake in the heartlands of Alaska, Charles Morse makes himself the only among three survivors, who is ready to take responsibility for the group, beyond his safety. At this point, we could give in to the temptation to take the simplest interpretation of the situation in implementing Morse’s social status before the crash and Bob’s and Stephen’s habit debase oneself in the presence of the billionaire. As the events go on, we appreciate the fact, that the intellect and actions were the key factors to make a leader of Charles. In a strong sense, the resilient passion for thinking can be attributed as an action respectively. In the span of a movie Charles repeatedly declares the old wisdom, that people die of shame in the woods: mere subsequently to some physical or moral condition, rather as a direct result of paralysis of action. These fated living deadmen make no efforts to think and to take active actions in the conditions far more demanding than an everyday routine of the stone jungles of comfort and safety. 

THEY DIE OF SHAME - LIFE PRAISES DOERS. Charles Morse character analysis

CHARLES: Should we lay down and die? Should we lie down and die?!

There’s nobody here but us. Have l missed something?

BOB: You’re right. You’re right. l’m sorry.


CHARLES: You want to die out here, huh? Well,then die. But l tell you what… l’m not gonna die. No, sir. l’m not gonna die. No, l’m gonna kill the bear.

Charles encourages and urges forward his two companions in misfortune and later particularly Robert to take actions, make steps, do something, to move. He draws a grimmy parallel between inactivity and death. As the story goes on, the tree of his decisions proves to be far from brilliancy and right in all senses. Charles puts a wrong handle to a compass in an attempt to plot a course through the woods to freedom and he loses the signal flares. Despite that definite failures, the main character goes on in generating options to deal with current circumstances in colorful contrast to Bob and Stephen, who both find themselves devastated in a brain freeze after every misfortune. Stephen fails to get thoughts together and calm in a mere perspective of making a foot walk, his self-made wound, or lack of provision. Charles’s mistakes can be attributed as significant and his encyclopedic knowledge as of poor practicality, yet he still draws actions, makes efforts, commit errors, stands up, and goes on. Morse finds the only sense in attempting, even with a mistake, rather than take no actions at all, sitting and hesitating on level ground. 

Robert Green (Alec Baldwin) The Edge 1997 movie

The situation with Robert draws a big difference between him and Charles, which designates his personality with more truth than the absence of the private plane and the social stereotypes on the rich men and Morse in person. Charles puts a face-to-face question on Bob’s plans to kill the billionaire, yet Robert does not have a stomach even to plan the most important affair in his own life. Already after the accident, Robert relinquishes to Charles in the clear-eyed judgment on the situations and actions, needed to be taken. A number of his inactions later causes the irreversible consequences. Robert finds no sense to spend few minutes to dig in the blooded cloth, which claims life of Stephen as he had not made a few additional steps to return the written note, which could simplify the survival. Finally, Robert lacks decisiveness in shooting Morse and he loses his own life. During a man-to-man talk with his last and maybe the only friend Charles, he makes a painful confession that he had not made any good and respect-worthy in his life and Robert is apologetic face to face to Morse. In a decisive moment on the edge of the survival, Robert makes no more than gets down on the ground and dies of shame, a free-will passing. 

CHARLES: Don’t die on me, Bob.

BOB: Don’t tell me what to do. 

Alec Baldwin The edge 1997

Alec Baldwin and Robert Green

Working with the script backward from the death of Robert, another scene of a prelude to killing the bear reveals and shapes the mindset pattern of both Bob and Charles. Following the words of Robert, he de facto is ready just to lie down and die in a belly of the beast as the duet had been failed for several times. Charles makes his minds, that there is no second place in this race for life, and inaction would only mean one end. Morse is ready to fight with the creature, which predominates in strength, by means of his bare hands, coordinated by his intellect. The drawings on the box of matches and the gifted book on survival in the woods are to be turned into an idea to backfire bear’s wilderness against himself. As Charles repeatedly gives out the ‘What one man can do, another can do’  phrase, he does something more than just making belief in copying the practice of the Indians: Morse leads out Robert of a deadlock of inactivity. He ignores the self-defeating words of his companion and makes the opposite to become true. 

What one man can do, another can do’ Edge movie meaning

CHARLES: What one man can do, another can do.

BOB: What one man can do, another can do.

CHARLES: Say it again!

BOB: What one man can do, another can do!

CHARLES: And again!

BOB: What one man can do… another can do!

CHARLES: Yeah! You’re goddamn right. ‘Cause today…l’m a-gonna kill the motherfucker.

The edge Charles movie analysis



The very first minutes of the screen time reveals the further understanding of Charles Morse’s character not so much by mean of the non-accidental plot trigger of his multi-billionaire status, but with attentiveness to his behavior. The further re-watching of ‘The edge’ grants us with a new perspective on the opening sequence, shaped up with two metaphors. One deepens into the prism of the smoking rabbit with a pipe (Charles himself) and the second metaphoric expression deals with his profile of survival on the edge of North America. Repeatedly declared joke about the man with a private plane analogizes with an iceberg of prejudice to be washed upon the indeed vulnerable image of a person with a status of a social outcast. 


The self-made success and extreme wealth and a formed system of subordancy and dependence (self-destroyingly desired by Robert) had made Charles misplaced and frustrated among the values of the modern society. He pays no less than a barely veiled suspicious towards the admiration words of an air-mechanic, nontrivially attributed to the 20-million plane, rather than to a young Mrs. Morse.  No sooner than an Alaskan householder draws the curtain of a money-related chatter, Charles forsakens and distances himself from the partner in conversation. Before too long we succeed in guessing that the billionaire has had a clear knowledge of the love affair between his wife and Robert, a twenty-year-younger (than Charles) cameraman, as well as the insight of the unveiled reason why Mickie had become his second half.  The story leaves us nothing else but a guess-work in a dilemma of the measured exchange: Charles’ money for her youthfulness and theatrical marriage. More than this, Charles finds oneself in a hurtable semi-victimizable state (despite the social stereotypes and cliches on the rich-men, repeatedly declared by Bob later on) when his young wife expresses a poor awareness of his Birthday. At this point of the story, we are now close enough to learn one of the committed values of ‘The edge’ movie, that is to say, the lack of the canonic correlation between wealth and happiness, wealth and social behavior, wealth and self-confidence, wealth and a will to live on. 

Anthony Hopkins and Charles Morse

While we getting deeper into the events and re-considering the metaphor with a rabbit, we can’t ignore the idea, that Charles has been always confident in the triumph of the intellect and patience. At a time when Robert overthinks in having all at once: a beautiful woman and (what is more important for him) a fortune, Charles plays cards close to his chest in the position of a humiliated and cheated man. The very fact, that he breaks the silence with an unexpected question on the upcoming murder plans, reveals the unpromising perspective for the Panther (Robert). It little matters for Morse either to pull through the public humiliation washing the dirty linen of his marriage in public or to master woods and rocks of Alaska. Charles makes no pauses in persistent brainwork on his next move and the possible solution of the upcoming or already happened crisis. The ‘He sits unafraid. He smokes his pipe’ phrase itself show us nothing else than Charles’ extreme devotion to patience. It would take days of danger and endurances close together to Bob to finally hear the truth, which means far more than money or even the rightful vengeance. 

A rabbit with a pipe. THe Edge movie explained

In all movie and psychological senses, Alec Baldwin’s character relieves to be way more than a human element of the story, who pushes the protagonist to make a transformation at the end of the long and dangerous journey. Robert plays a scene-by-scene role of the all-powerful contrast between two paradigms of values and personal identities of two men, both vulnerable. While Charles indeed lives in a vacuum of suspiciousness and painful anticipation, Bob misinterprets the bank account and a means to designate the person. Yet it was no less than a character figure, Charles’ persistence and system of values and ground rules, which has made all that millions possible. Even the possible loss of all the wealth would not be an obstacle for Morse to gain other billions, to solidate people around, to become  the smartest man in the room

persistence and system of values and ground rules

Stephen, Robert’s assistant has had an evaluation on Morse as a money bag, useful only to announce another encyclopedic wisdom to win 5$. Regardless of that initial disregard, the minutes of pitfalls have switched Stephen’s attitude and the arc of vision. It was Charles who took his breath time inside the sunken cabin of the airplane to save the life of a man, who had been nothing to him if we deal with the cliches on rich men. The self-made leader of the group (Charles) castigates Stephen’s panic face-to-face with a terrifying uncertainty and grants him with a sense of doing, including finding the round stone. Even when the assistant of the photographer mishandles a knife and wounds himself, Charles does the opposite to abandon the man: he takes care of Stephen and heartens him up. After all these misfortunes, Stephen presents Charles with gratitude, sincerity, and the acknowledgment of his personal qualities. Morse appreciates all these above any wealth and artificial social status. In contrast to Bob, Stephen leaves behind Charles’ failure with a compass and a loss of signal flares. He expresses admiration with Morse’s intellect and his restless generation of ideas on how they could survive in the woods of Alaska. In fact, Charles makes much more efforts to save Stephen, that the young man is ready to accomplish himself for one’s survival. 

Charles, Stephen and Robert: the main characters of The Edge 1997

STEPHEN: You know something?


STEPHEN: You’re all right.


STEPHEN: No, l mean it. Very thoughtful man.

While backsliding into a rich-in-contrast image of Robert, the movie runs his attitude to Charles through the prism of self-distrust and a bulk of the social stereotypes, which have served as fuel for his image of the world. He fails to keep these cliches close to heart and unveiled as he indeed uses it both as a strength to crave richness and as a justification of his criminal intent against Morse, sexual design on his wife and greedy agenda to possess all the money. The tiny shatters of two scenes reveal the fact, that Robert’s offensive abuses go no further than giving mixed messages and talking out on both sides of the mouth as he initially calls Charles a homosexual and later on disregards the billionaire as a seducer of female servants. Bob has no better suggestion on the brightest part of the rich men’s day than the rudeness of a taxi driver, yet he admits the dependence of people towards power and money. Robert draws an image of wealth through a freaksville sophisticated self-imaged scene with cocaine on a woman’s thigh. At the same time, he blows a fuse in hatred for the rich men, who bleed people for money. As the story goes on, Robert gets on the point, that all this shaky system of made-to-believe images and simplifications does not stand around against Charles as Bob can evaluate Morse unfabled and experience his actions and decisions first-hand. 

The social stereotypes of the rich men. The Edge explained

Since the very inception of the story, Charles has been aware of Robert’s motives for taking his wife and wealth, probably his life, yet Morse presents equal efforts in saving both Stephen and Robert. In a scene with the vanished hope to be evacuated by a helicopter, Alec Baldwin’s character express his anger through the social cliche on the power to rule the country, once delegated to people like Morse. On the other side of his abuses, he is in all ways dependant on Charles’ intellect and decisiveness. Indeed and not in name, Robert is frustrated to admit that Charles is more conditioned to deal with the situation despite his billionaire status and age. Morse can take responsibility and perform actions: internals, that Bob lacks. A few seconds passed since they have lost maybe the only hope to be saved and Charles is ready to proclaim another survival idea to keep on. He uses the repeated question on ice and fire to over-persuade Bob to take actions, to raise from one’s knees, and move on. He suggests to stop self-beating on what they have and rather to make the most of where you are. Charles has much more than an encyclopedic background: he has an attitude to turn it into a useful asset. 

stop self-beating on what you have and rather to make the most of where you are

The superlative culmination of the clash between these two characters can be found and appreciated in a fact, that Charles let all the abuses go and forgives Robert in disregard of all humiliations with the wife and even direct assault on Morse’s life. Charles takes care of Bob’s wound, he takes him into a boat and pulls the photographer along in a situation, which would probably encourage any of us to leave the failed murderer in a pit for bears. Working ten minutes backward, Anthony Hopkins’ character has made a statement that he would start his life from scratch. Very likely, that these words of visualization include getting out of relations with the two-faced wife towards the love marriage, re-establishing the social environment, maybe even conscious rejection of wealth on the behalf of the people in need.  We keep on the dilemma of how many people with all that power and money Charles has can take the appropriate decision and change a life.

Charles Morse character analysis