Lucius Hunt: A Picture of Manhood

Posted: June 3, 2013 by jperritt in Uncategorized
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The Village - Movie Wallpaper - 01M. Night Shyamalan’s newest film, After Earth, isn’t really “wowing” people at the local theater, but it’s moved people to discuss his body of work. I, for one, have really enjoyed his films. I didn’t care for Lady in the Water or The Happening, but I thought The Sixth Sense and the three films that followed were excellent (I didn’t see The Last Airbender and I don’t care to).

Some people gave up on Shyamalan after The Village, but not this movie-goer. Not only is The Village one of my favorite Shyamalan films, it is one of my favorite all-time movies (probably in my top 15 if you were wondering). There is much to discuss about this movie, but one of the aspects of the film I wanted to zoom in on today was the character of Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix).

I specifically wanted to discuss the masculinity Hunt’s character possesses. Since there is so much redefining of marriage and gender roles currently taking place, I thought his character could bring some helpful clarity in a culture of confusion. At the outset, I would like to assert that this character is one of the best examples of a man we have had in recent history at the cinema. And, quite possibly, one of the greatest examples from film history, putting him right up there with Atticus Finch.

Even though Ivy Walker is a great female lead of strength, and possibly performs the most selfless act in the film, Lucius Hunt possesses a certain level of servitude that’s an example to the entire village. He serves Finton by sitting in the watchtower through the night, he brings wood to August Nicholson after the death of his child, and he always holds the hand of Ivy when danger is present.

There is also a certain level of humility and gentleness he possesses, two attributes that seem to be absent from current trends in “manhood”. When he sneaks into the woods, resulting in danger being brought to the village, he quickly and boldly confesses his wrong. This act moves the strongest elder of the village to say, “You are courageous in ways I will never know.” This courage continues as he fights to know the truth of his mother’s black box and the origins of the beasts in the woods. Ivy even asks him how he can remain so calm in the midst of danger, to which he replies, “I don’t worry about what may happen, only what needs to be done.”

His gentleness and timidity gives me a picture of Paul’s true son in the faith, Timothy. Gentleness, it seems, is something that is opposed to the culture’s definition of manhood, as well as, notions of “biblical macho-ism”. Timothy was a strong man who stood up for the truth, but was on an opposite end of the spectrum from Paul and even Titus. However, Paul includes gentleness as a quality overseers and deacons should possess (1 Tim. 3:3). Lucius was one who didn’t “bounce about” like the other boys, and spoke with a gentleness and respect to others. And, the portrayal of his gentle character in the film actually comes across as strength, which the macho-men might disagree with. Many may view gentleness as passivity, but that is not the case with Hunt. The one scene that best shows this is the dialogue he shares with Ivy Walker, as she persistently presses him in order to discern his feelings for her.

Ivy Walker: When we are married, will you dance with me? I find dancing very agreeable. [pause] Why can you not say what is in your head?

Lucius Hunt: Why can you not stop saying what is in yours? Why must you lead, when I want to lead? If I want to dance I will ask you to dance. If I want to speak I will open my mouth and speak. Everyone is forever plaguing me to speak further. Why? What good is it to tell you that you are in my every thought from the time I wake? What good can come from my saying that I sometimes cannot think clearly or do my work properly? What gain can rise of my telling you the only time I feel fear as others do is when I think of you in harm? That is why I am on this porch, Ivy Walker. I fear for your safety before all others. And yes, I will dance with you on our wedding night.

In our age of confusion over males and females, characters like Lucius Hunt are quite refreshing. It’s sad to say that the cultural shifts which are taking place may bring a certain scarcity to portrayals of men like Lucius Hunt. It is a challenge not to feel some level of discouragement with our current state of things. However, there is great security and comfort in the fact that one Man has come and is coming back to bring full redemption. Not only a redemption that turns enemies into children, but a redemption that brings true beauty and distinction to the design of men and women. In all of our examples of biblical manhood, let us not forget the purest example we have, Jesus Christ.

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