The Thought-provoking Movie: The Revenant (My Christian Review)

I saw the movie The Revenant this weekend and it was so thought-provoking I just had to share some thoughts in a blog post. It really has my brain going over and over little bits of the movie.  I wonder if I watch it a second time if I would pick up even more.
We don't go to the movies often because it costs so much, but I had heard everyone talking about how good this movie is and so we made it a date night. Of course, I always have to have popcorn too because it wouldn't be the movies without it. Forget any dieting for this weekend.

I have read a few other commentaries on the movie and have discovered some people think much differently about the movie than I do and see things that I did not or do not see. Maybe that is what makes this movie such a good movie because it allows the mind to wander and ponder, for each person to take away something different and personal.

Yes, there are some hard to watch scenes (scalping, blood, eating raw meat), so this movie might not be for everyone, but I do not like scary movies and I made it through, although I confess I turned my head away a few times.

I'm not going to take space here to write a story synopsis as my thoughts are long enough. Here are some of my first impressions.

First, the graphics are amazing beyond description. I am glad I went to see this on the big movie screen as the wide-screen landscape shots and the views up through the trees were breath-taking. I could not soak in the scenes enough and  I wanted the movie to pause for a little longer. Actually, every moment of the movie's graphics was so extraordinary that I cannot find words to describe it, but it just has to be seen.

Second, great care was taken with the sound effects to help tell the story and to get the theme across. The sound people really do deserve an award. I share some more about the sound below with regard to the breath.

Although not a Christian movie per-say, there are a lot of take-aways for Christians in the movie.  I understand that the move was based in part on the novel The Revenant by Michael Punke, which is concrete on Christian references, but the movie paraphrases, I suppose to appeal to a wider audience. I might have to read the book.

The word "revenant" seems like a word I have heard (i.e. reverent, relevant) and my mind wants to read right over it. I have to stop to retrain my brain to even type it correctly. The word "revenant" is defined as "a person who has returned, especially supposedly from the dead."

Glass spends most of the movie rising from almost death, so the symbolism is intense if you allow your mind to go there.

Romans 6:3,4 says, "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life."

If you go into watching the movie with this presupposition looking for moments when Glass rises from the dead, you can feel the Holy Spirit reminding you of your own baptism. I am buried with Jesus by baptism into death in order that I might walk in newness of life.

I recall one scene where Glass rises out of the water.  I recall a scene where Glass rises up out of the shallow grave that the bad guy Fitzgerald had thrown him into in an effort to bury him alive. I recall the scene where the unclothed Glass rises out of the protective and healing lean-to that the Pawnee friend had built for him, having undressed him and placed steaming rocks inside with him. I recall one scene where unclothed Glass rises out of the dead horse cavity where he road out the winter storm. Each time Glass rises, he is stronger.  

Near the end of the movie, Hugh Glass says, "I ain't afraid to die anymore. I'd done it already."  I see this as a reference to having been buried with Jesus in order to live.

The very premise, theme, and moral of the story was the statement, "Revenge is in God's hands not mine." 

Romans 12:18-21 says, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

Throughout the movie, I saw the basic good nature of mankind, along with the basic evil nature of mankind. Glass came across a lot of people in the wilderness, some who helped him and some who harmed him, but overall, the good one over. Evil was overcome with good.

Although Glass through the last part of the movie was seeking revenge, he ultimately did not carry it through when John Fitzgerald, the very one who he was taking revenge upon, reminded him "You came all this way just for your revenge, huh? Did you enjoy it, Glass?... 'Cause there ain't nothing gonna bring your boy back." Glass pushed Fitzgerald into the water. Fitzgerald floated towards the Pawnee Indian chief, who had been the thorn in Glass's side the entire movie, chasing him and killing many of the others, satisfied God's revenge. The Pawnee Indian chief did so and walked by Glass without harming him because Glass had earlier in the movie saved his daughter from rape and death. The earlier good that Glass did overcame evil.

The Pawnee friend worked so hard for this complete stranger (Glass) to save him (his skin was rotting away from the wounds) by using his ax to chop down the trees to build the lean-to, the fire, and the stones, in the middle of a snow storm, only to loose his own life by daybreak to white folk. I also noted the horse that was ready to ride Glass off from harm, only to jump off a cliff, and then die to be used as a cavity of safety for Glass from the storm.  Glass's leader (I'm not sure of his specific part by name, but he was in charge of the fort and the expedition), went off with Glass to help him seek revenge, to bring justice as was his job in his position, only to loose his life to Fitzgerald as well.  Many people lost their life for Glass's sake in the movie.

I was reading the next chapter for Good Morning Girls (a reading plan to read one chapter a day) the day after I watched the movie, which was Job 27. Three verses into the reading, I was inspired to write this:

27:3 "as long as my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils," Just yesterday 2.6.2016 I watched the movie Revenant and I find God's timing perfect that today I immediately read this verse. A prevalent theme throughout the movie is as quoted, "As long as you can still grab a breath, you fight. You breathe... keep breathing." The sound effects are amazing as you hear Hugh Glass's breathing as he fights. Glass's native son feels with his hand his father's breath. He fights for life. He fights for renewed strength. He fights to arise. He fights to keep moving. He fights to get through one more moment. He fights to make his way. He fights through reality. He fights for justice. He fights for righteousness. He fights to be restored. He fights for everything. All these things are in my faith. 

Our breath is a gift from God. Genesis 2:7 "Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." For as long as God gives me breath, I shall fight to fulfill His purpose. I will not give up for in giving up, I give up on His purposes. I think of those fighting cancer or any other trouble, just as Job, and not giving up for the very basis that God gives breath and God takes away breath that is our living being. God's breath is in me. God's. Oh how often I pause in my stress and just take a deep breath and feel relaxation and calmness. Now to imagine it is God's breath that runs through me as I breathe deep. He is with me. Always. Now, after all of that, we follow with verse 4 to finish the sentence.

Now, for each way I listed that Glass would "fight" I feel I could elaborate even more, but this blog post is long enough. so I will share just one. Glass fights through reality to me means that some of the things that happened to him were not by evil, but just happened as a reality of the way life goes sometimes.  The bear is one example where it was just accidental that he would stumble upon the bear protecting her cubs. The bear was not evil. Life happens and we don't give up and keep going on fighting.

Another reoccurring theme in the movie is what Glass's Indian wife had spoken to Glass and their son, Hawk, “In a storm when you look at the branches of the tree, you’re certain it will fall. But if you look at the trunk, you’ll see the stability.” This seemed to be a source of strength for Glass as he clung to the words to get him through the moments with compelling will power. Glass found himself often laying on the ground looking up through the trees in the snow storms.  I absolutely love to do this myself, although more often in warm weather on a blanket looking up. I always say that it is impossible to capture how it feels with my camera, but the creators of this movie did a fantastic work scene and again.

My thoughts turn to the trunk of the tree getting its stability from its roots. Colossians 2:7 says, "rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving." There are many more verses about roots and/or such as the vine and the branches that are brought to mind.

Another scene that sticks in my mind is that between Glass and his son, Hawk, and the prevalence of discrimination by the color of skin. It's been around a long time.  I am thankful that God does not see skin color. Glass says, "I told you to be invisible, son!" Hawk says, "At least he..." Glass says, "If you want to survive, keep your mouth shut!" Hawk says, "At least he heard me." Glass says, "They don't hear your voice! They just see the color of your face. You understand? You understand?" Hawk says, "Yes."

For now, as my mind continues to think about this movie, I end with another scene from the movie that is clearly Christian because Glass has a dream of him and his son, Hawk, walking up and into church ruins. The paintings of Jesus that flash by on the screen are amazing. The message I get from this scene is that Glass is envisioning him and his son meeting again one day after Glass dies (his son already having been murdered.) This scene reminds us that we will see our loved ones who have died in Christ before us in heaven one day.

Links.
Here is an LCMS article which I am glad I read before I watched the movie. Some of my thoughts were presupposition from this article.
Here is an article from Christianity today that is interesting in how it compares Glass to the bear.
Rocking God's House has some totally different thoughts than my train of thoughts.
If I find more, I'll edit and add some more links.

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