Posts Tagged ‘manhood’

passengersPassengers accomplishes something reminiscent of Cast Away and I Am Legend – the need for fellowship.  While audiences felt sympathy for Tom Hanks and Will Smith being secluded on islands – one a tropical island, the other Manhattan island – Passengers increases this feeling on the final frontier.

When we first meet Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) he’s just waking up from hyper-sleep…90 years too soon.  Not only is that just a tad too early, but he’s the only passenger, out of five thousand, who woke up too soon.

As he slowly gets acclimated to life on the spacecraft, Avalon, he quickly realizes he’s all alone.  His terrified reaction to this realization reminds us of the importance for community and fellowship.  Not only is this feeling enhanced when it’s set against the backdrop of the vastness of space, but it’s increased by the understanding that other humans are aboard the Avalon.  This presence of humanity only seems to taunt Jim’s solitude.

Jim gets a glimpse of humanity as he encounters a bartender named Arthur (Michael Sheen), only to discover he’s a robot.  To Arthur’s credit, he does a superb job of acting human.  Just one example, Arthur constantly polishes glasses at the bar, even though Jim is the only customer aboard the ship.  When confronted with this truth, Arthur explains that it’s designed to comfort those he’s talking to.  Instead of staring into the eyes of Jim as he shares deep struggles, the distraction offered by polishing the glass comforts the patron.

Arthur even offers some advice to momentarily alleviate Jim’s predicament, “Quit trying to control everything.”  While this could be interpreted as a biblical truth – pointing to rest in God’s sovereignty – it becomes license to indulge.  Jim is all alone, but he has carte blanche access to every restaurant and drink available to Avalon guests.  Arthur’s advice grants reprieve to Jim’s loneliness, but it is short lived.  The emptiness of self-indulgence is on full display as Jim’s party comes crashing down.

The Moral Dilemma

As Jim reaches the end of himself – and the partying he enjoyed – he discovers a passenger that catches his eye.  He learns her name and tracks her down through the ship’s video log.  What begins as curiosity, becomes infatuation.  Jim watches the videos Aurora has left and begins to fall in love with her.  Sitting beside her sleep chamber, watching videos of her – simulating something of a date – Jim realizes his curiosity has only left him in greater misery.  He’s so close to human contact, and yet, so far away.

As he seeks advice from Arthur, he realizes the dilemma he’s created for himself: Wake a woman up too early and ruin the life she desired on another planet or continue to live and eventually die in isolation. One thing is for certain, neither is an appealing conclusion.

Movie-goers with a heartbeat understand this to be a true challenge for Jim.  Perhaps there are many who would claim, I’d never be that selfish.  The filmmakers, however, present such a clear picture of isolation and loneliness, one can’t help but feel Jim’s dilemma. 

One of the most poignant scenes in the film occurs from Jim’s discovery of a spacesuit.  As he sees the headless suit, he beings to embrace it and try to hold the hands of the suit.  For a fleeting second, he’s reminded of what it’s like to embrace another.  It is a powerful illustration of our need for community and displays the inner-wrestlings of Jim’s heart.

The Unintended Truth

This film does such a good job of communicating mankind’s innate desire for community.  Being created in God’s image necessitates community.  As Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are in perfect community with themselves, humanity is created with this desire for community – it’s hard-wired into us (Gen. 1:26-27).

An equally deep truth, and stronger theme in the film, was seen in Jim’s choosing of Aurora.  On the one hand, we understand that perhaps he was drawn to her beauty and then her personality through the video log, therefore, his choice of passenger is easy to grasp.  On the other hand, why didn’t he choose another man?  A buddy to hang out with?  A guy he could have played basketball or lifted weights with (he does both of those things on the Avalon)?

I was fascinated by the fact that Passengers unintentionally, most likely, illustrated one of the earliest truths of Scripture – It is not good that man should be alone (Gen. 2:18).  Just as Adam spent some time in the Garden of Eden and discovered he did not have a helper fit for him, Jim discovered that he needed – not just another image bearer – but a female.

Jim’s portrayed as a capable man in the film.  He’s a mechanic so he can fix things, he seems to be in good physical shape, he’s athletic, but he’s still incomplete.  He needs a woman.  Yes, another man would offer him community and fellowship he longs for, but there’s something about a female that’s unique.  There’s something she offers that man doesn’t.  The female is an image-bearer that bears the image of God in a manner man doesn’t.

In light of the differences between genders, I must tell viewers that there is some sexual content in the film.  While nothing is explicit, the film illustrates the sexual desires males and females have ingrained into their being.  I want to be sensitive and warn others of this content, and, while nothing is too explicit in this film, I wish they would have toned it down a bit.  At the same time, we are talking about one man and one woman secluded in space for a long time.  While Christian viewers may quickly look upon those scenes with understandable disdain, we also – I would suggest – should recognize the biblical truth of sexuality that’s being communicated onscreen.  I’m not condoning the content, but the truth.

As the film approaches its ultimate climax, Jim looks at Aurora and says, “I need your help.”  Jim, a very capable man, needs the woman and, as the film illustrates, Aurora needs Jim.  The man and the woman need one another to accomplish the task before them.  Ultimately, it is one man and one woman that keep civilization aboard the Aurora continuing.  Without the two of them coming together, the entire crew would not survive.

God’s Passengers

While so much of our culture wants to distort Scripture’s view of biblical manhood and womanhood, I feel that Passengers gives viewers a pretty accurate portrayal of what we find in God’s Word.  God created humans to be in fellowship.  God created male and female after his image.  God taught Adam he needed Eve.  Adam recited poetry as he first lays eyes on the beautiful creature he calls ‘woman’.

This side of heaven, our community and fellowship is imperfect.  Sin brings division among males and females, it brings division among races, and sin brings death which ushers in the most painful form of isolation to those left in its wake.

Truth be told, we are all passengers.  In this grand narrative called life, we are reminded that we aren’t the main characters.  The life we’re now living is not ours, but Gods.  He owns all things, even our stories.  While we are significance because we bear his image, we are merely passengers along for the ride.

There are many great things about being a father…too many to list here.  However, one of those great things is the feeling of nostalgia.  And, nostalgia is often captured by re-experiencing things through the lives of your children.  This could be building forts in the living room, playing hide-and-go seek, or watching movies you grew up watching.  The latter has been something I have enjoyed time-and-time again.

Peter-Pan-Diamond-EditionThis is why I was very excited about watching Peter Pan with my children.  I can remember how much I loved traveling to Never Never Land and watching Peter Pan fool Captain Hook and his band of foolish pirates.  And, this anticipation only added to my current dislike for Peter Pan.  I still have some fond memories of Pan and his crew, but he’s such a jerk.  I mean, what an arrogant, foolish, immature, boy…am I right?

This newfound realization of Peter Pan led me to two conclusions: Satan is at work and I’m getting old.  Let’s take a closer look at both of these realizations, dealing with the second one first.

There’s no hiding it, I’m getting old.  I have grey hair (this is in reference to the hairs that aren’t falling out).  My joints are achy.  And I’m constantly quoting my father (unintentionally).  For example, I watch Peter Pan and I make statements about his rebellious nature.  In a sense, I don’t know who’s worse, Peter Pan or Captain Hook (we won’t even mention Smee, he’s harmless).  Pan relishes rebellion, fawns over foolishness, and has a certain amount of abrasion towards authority.  Which leads me to my second conclusion – Satan is at work.

Look at it this way, Captain Hook is the villain of the film.  However, if you watch the entire film, there may be one character that is more villainous than Hook.  Of course I’m not talking about Smee, not even the ol’ Tick-Tock Croc.  I’m talking about Mr. Darling.  Mr. Darling?!  Who’s that?! I’m sure you’re thinking.  He’s the father of Wendy, Michael, and John.  Not only is he the father, he’s also depicted as an utter fool.  In fact, he is depicted as foolish when Pan is praised for indulging in immaturity and levity.

This is why I say that I unintentionally quote my father.  I recently watched Pan (through my 30ish eyes) and thought, Peter Pan is so disrespectful!  How horrible is the father depicted?  These are comments my dad would have made to my chagrin several years ago.  However, this is proof that Satan is at work.  Now, to be fair, many men have upheld the stereotype of Mr. Darling, but men are under attack by Satan.  God gave authority to men in Genesis 1 & 2 (settle down feminists).  He created men and women equal, but gave specific responsibilities to each gender.  The men were created to lead (in love and service I might add), but they were created to lead.  But, the Fall has brought about distortion, frustration, and confusion to gender roles.   Which is why we have movies like Peter Pan that depict men as fools that are authoritative jerks who should be hated.

Now, many of you may be hanging on to your nostalgic love for a film like this and I’m not saying you should hate the film.  I’m simply saying, this film rejoices in rebellion and feeds an agenda of foolish fathers.  And, one aspect of this I have left out is the fact that Captain Hook and Mr. Darling are voiced by the same actor.  That’s right, the villain of the film and the father (a.k.a. the villain) have the same voice.  Therefore, as children are watching the movie – that is, as they watch the father irrationally spew hatred, anger, and foolishness – they will recognize his voice through the evil, (equally foolish) Captain Hook.

So, I’m not saying that Satan made Peter Pan (maybe he helped produce it?), but I am saying that there was an agenda here.  (Maybe this was referenced in Finding Neverland, but I don’t remember.)  Therefore, enjoy this classic male-bashing piece of trash, but enjoy it with this clear agenda at it’s foundation*.

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pan*I didn’t even get into the artwork of the film.  Notice how elegant Mrs. Darling was portrayed in comparison to the fat and foolish Mr. Darling.

The_Next_Three_Days_PosterMy wife and I had placed this film in our Netflix queue a long time ago.  To be honest, I had forgotten about it.  However, we were in the mood for a thriller, so I chose to bump it up to position numero uno.  Let me just say that I was pretty impressed by how much I enjoyed this thriller.  For starters, I am a Russell Crowe fan.  I was also interested to see a thriller directed by Paul Haggis [Crash, Million Dollar Baby, & Casino Royale].

The Next 3 Days was a pretty unconventional thriller.  The lines between good and evil are blurred, roles for the male and female leads are a little atypical and the idea of justice doesn’t follow your typical cookie-cutter Hollywood movies.  Just so you know, there are points of disagreement I have about TN3D, but it is an interesting thriller that will keep your ethics in check.  Today’s post will be a bit more positive, but I hope to write a follow-up post raising some questions surrounding TN3D’s theme of justice.

One aspect of this movie I really liked was the male leadership that was present.  Again, I did not agree with the manner in which John Brennan [Crowe] led in every decision he made, but I liked the story of a “present” father.  As we know, there are far too many statistics of absent fathers.  Fathers who leave their wives for other women, fathers who abandon their families because the responsibility is too great and father who are absent even when they are present.  They may “stick it out” in the marriage/familial responsibilities but they abandon their family in their pursuit of too many hobbies or too much television.

Brennan was present in this family.  Even when his wife is accused of murder and sentenced to life in prison, Brennan doesn’t leave.  He doesn’t move on to another woman.  He doesn’t abandon his son who needs him.  He doesn’t sulk.  He continues to work to provide for his family, makes consistent visits to his wife in prison, and continues to fight for the justice his wife deserves.

Brennan’s male role is absent in many of today’s films, because men like Brennan are absent in society.  Sadly, the increasing statistics of loser husbands and fathers exist, because our culture lacks male leadership.  This is what I found refreshing about this film.  It was refreshing to see a movie paint a picture of the fathers that are present in this world – seeing Brennan make lunches for his son, comfort him when he had a nightmare, or talk to him about struggles of life.  It was nice to see a positive depiction of a husband for a change – seeing a husband fighting for his wife and remaining faithful to her even in imprisonment.

Scripture tells men to love their wives as Christ loved the church and to be willing to die for them [Ephesians 5:25].  Brennan’s actions clearly portrayed a man driven by this exhortation.  Just like any earthly husband, Brennan fails at his God-ordained calling as a man. Anyone would question several decisions his character makes throughout the film and may even exclaim that he becomes a bit obsessive in the pursuit of freeing his wife.  However, this can even serve as a good reminder that Christ is the perfect Bridegroom.  Where every male fails, Christ succeeds.

Therefore, if you choose to watch TN3D, at least enjoy this aspect of it.  Men need to take queues from this type of leadership and teach them to our sons.  Men are called to a calling that is beyond oneself, which draws us closer to the only perfect Man to ever walk this earth.

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.