Friday, April 22, 2011

Holy week at the movies: Never let me go on Friday

The fact that popular media culture is an imaginative palette for faith … the church has to take that imaginative palette seriously… if part of the pastoral task of the church is to communicate God’s mercy and God’s freedom in a way that people understand then you have to use the language that they’re using, you have to use the metaphors and forms of experience that are already familiar to them. Tom Beaudoin

This is a haunting movie. Directed by Mark Romanek it remains deeply disturbing long after the credits roll. The film is based on a novel by Japanese-born British author Kazuo Ishiguro. Short listed for the 2005 Booker, adapted for the big screen by Alex Garland, it provides some profound questions about being human and the person and work of Jesus.

The movie begins with Ruth (Carey Mulligan) watching her lover, Tommy (Andrew Garfield), preparing to be anesthetised on an operating table.

What follows is a cinematic triptych, elegantly woven together by the evolving love triangle between three friends, Ruth, Tommy and Kathy (Keira Knightley).

The year is 1978 and the friends are children (convincingly played by Ella Purnell, Charlie Rowe, Isobel Meikle-Small) at Hailsham School. What seems sheltered increasingly grows sinister, innocence hemmed by stories of dismembered bodies and evidence of repressed emotions.

Next, the year is 1985 and the children emerge into adolescence. The tension in the love triangle escalates and a sinister future becomes frightfully clearer. The three have been bred as organ donors, born to be broken apart in adulthood, spare lungs and limbs to ensure other humans are healthy.

Finally, the year is 1994 and in adulthood the three friends become re-entangled, each forced to confront their past and future.

In the final scene Ruth is alone. She contemplates her death, facing a fence on which pieces of plastic flap emptily on the wind. A chilling and senseless isolation is complete. All that remain are Ruth’s final words.

“Do we feel life so differently from the people we save?”

The word “save” jumped out, the idea that hunks of flesh ripped from one person’s body might prove essential to the salvation of another. Which brought to mind the Passion of Holy Week and the Christian gospels, which describe a body whipped and pierced. And the claim that such an act of brutality was essential to human redemption.

Are we really catching a glimpse of the Christian understanding of the person and work of Jesus?

Mark 15:33 At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”–which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Posted by steve at 01:53 PM