Monday, April 7, 2014

A Tale of Two Movies

I saw two movies this weekend.  Noah (2014) and The Princess Bride (1987).  Noah is serious and dark, The Princess Bride is funny and light.  One professes to be about how God deals with the world, the other professes to be a fairy tale. These movies are about as different as night and day…and yet maybe not so much as I first thought. 

When I read this statement from a devotional this morning, it reminded me of The Princess Bride and of Buttercup’s unwavering faith that Westley would come rescue her:

"Take the risk that your prayers might be powerful,
That love may in fact be the strongest thing of all,
Worth giving all you have that it might be known."

The strength and worth of taking a risk for love is not an unusual plot or an unusual message. This is what we grow up believing, that true love exists and we will find it and everything will work out in the end.  The darkness of Noah seemed to say the opposite of The Princess Bride’s “all will be well in the end” message.  In Noah life is excruciatingly difficult, love is brutal, and God seems not to hear or answer prayer.  As I think about the devotional statement, though, I wonder if Noah does ultimately have the same message, just in a darker package.  Buttercup’s faith in love holds strong throughout The Princess Bride, and Noah’s wife’s faith in love does the same throughout Noah.

Although Noah is based on the Bible, God is barely more explicitly present in Noah than he is in The Princess Bride.  In Noah, the characters may be talking to God, but they just as easily might not be.  Grandfather Methuselah could represent God.  In The Princess Bride, Miracle Max is a bit like God, and a bit like Methuselah.  But providence is evident in both movies.  In The Princess Bride Fezzik and Inigo decide to act at just the right time to find and save Westley.  In Noah the boat strikes a rock at just the right moment to end the fight between Noah and the stowaway.  We tend not to talk about providence much anymore, but it still means God’s hand at work.

In the end, of course Westley and Buttercup are reunited and live happily ever after.  Noah and his wife and their children do the same.  Although the consequences and outcomes are dramatically different, both movies show the ideas from that devotional statement—risks taken based on faith, and that love is what triumphs.

We know from the Bible that God is love and God is all powerful.  Powerful love is evident in both movies, although expressed in tremendously different ways.  So although I don’t like the grittiness of Noah, I can see how it really does have the same message, whether the filmmakers intended it or not.

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