3 men & a movie
Yesterday (Friday) was the opening night (aside from select showings on Christmas day) for the movie 1917. I had wanted to go see it Christmas evening, but it wasn’t showing any place near me.
So, I sent out a text invite to a bunch of guys, and two ended up going with me last night: a deacon from my church and a fellow preacher and combat veteran. We left the wives behind and had a guys’ night out.
On a side note, when men go to a movie together, it is not good for them to sit side-by-side if it’s only 2 of them. If you have more in the group, there’s no requirement to leave an empty seat between you.
A Brilliant Movie
Let me just skip ahead to what you really want to know – it was a great movie. You should go see it, especially in a theater.
But what made the movie so good was not the acting, the action, the realistic combat scenes, or the plot; it was all of that mixed together with the most brilliant cinematography I’ve ever seen. From the very first scene, all the way to the last, it’s one continuous camera shot! I’d almost guarantee you’ve never seen anything like it.
The visuals, however, were as important as the story, in my opinion. In reality, the scenes from the silent, cratered fields over which the two main characters must bravely traverse in order to deliver a life-or-death message are a story in themselves. WW1 was a stupid, bloody, pointless massacre; yet, full credit should be given to the average soldier who heroically walked into the monster’s mouth whenever he heard the sound of a whistle.
Metaphor On the Flip Side
1917 was a work of art. It wasn’t meant to be realistic in every detail, especially the size of the set on which the film was made; it was meant to tell a story, and that it did.
This morning, as I was drinking a cup of coffee and thinking about last night’s movie, it struck me that 1917 could be a metaphor for life. And just as soon as I thought that, something else crossed my mind: Is life a metaphor for war?
On the one side, life imitates war. The first moment of the movie opens up with a reluctant hero resting against a tree. The last scene mirrors the last: a worn-out hero finally resting against a tree. Is that not how life is? One battle after the next, brief rests, and then more struggles in which we’ve got little say and no choice but to fight?
But on the flip side, war evidently imitates life.
Or is it that life is a war on many fronts, and war is a part of life? That is, until the battle is won and the war is over.
And what, then, is more valuable and worth the valor? A piece of tin attached to a ribbon, or a crown of life and the words “Well done, my good and faithful servant”?
I know I’m a little different. Aren’t we all? But one thing that got me about this film is something that I have started feeling more often the more action films I see: the death of individuals.
Let us never forget that every dead soldier, our side or theirs, was somebody’s child. When I saw the decaying bodies half-buried in muddy craters, an image of a mother never knowing where here son went came to mind. Each one was a soul that went out into eternity. Each one lost was a tragedy.
Because I’ve been a police chaplain, it’s hard for me to watch movies where bad guys plow through town shooting cop after cop. If it were real life, each one of those who died would have been a dad, a son, or a brother who was just trying to make an honest living while serving his community. And yet, Hollywood shows that stuff all the time without any feeling for the widows and orphans of real-life heroes in blue.
So, whether war is a metaphor for life, or the other way around, or both, the fact is that whether it be 1,600 soldiers about to walk into an ambush, or a single private blown to bits in an artillery barrage, life is precious, and each one matters.
World War 1 should never be forgotten. Unfortunately, too many know nothing about it.
Hopefully, 1917 will help change that.