This film adaptation of the great Stephen King story has an almost cartoonish quality to it, the way the characters are portrayed. But I am a sucker for a story having a "Christ-figure" and the one in this story is maybe one of the most interesting I've seen. His mammoth size shows that meekness is something other than wimpiness. His care for others shows gentleness to be force under control. The list could go on. I love how these prison guards have to deal with and come to grips with the miracles they are seeing. I am moved by how they grapple with the innocence of this man and yet can't stop the tragedy. I'm not sure if this one has had a huge impact on me in the sense that it taught me stuff or showed me things for the first time, but not all influences are epiphanies. I just really connected with it and took it to heart as an all time favourite and that's why it's here.
17. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
As long as I live I may not forget the closing scenes of this movie in which the Ark of the Covenant is opened and the wrath of God is poured out on the irreverent. I can clearly recall the dark brown couch I was sitting on in our Terrace BC living room as a youth when my Dad allowed me to stay up late and watch this on TV. My eyes must have been golf balls. I was never the same. Besides being the best action adventure that will ever be made, Raiders of the Lost Ark opened my eyes to the sheer vividness of such things as good and evil, courage, holiness, reverence, power, and mystery. These were words I had read and concepts I'd been introduced to, but maybe never really thought about, felt, or seen. I probably don't even realize how much this movie has informed my life. Its influence on me has biblical proportions! It was perfect that the movie ended with the Ark being put in storage, as seen above.
The next two films both re-enact real-time events in my lifetime that are themselves going to be hard-wired into most of us for as long as we live. There are a lot of films that try to capture these types of events on screen for us, especially on TV, but most of them diminish the significance of the event and make it seem trite and forgettable, I find. These two do the opposite, and it is because they are so well done.
United 93 in particular has been one that I've thought about a lot ever since I saw it in Winnipeg last spring. It is so real. The heroes depicted in the photo above want nothing to do with what they are about to do, but they have no choice and so they step up. For all the movies about heroes, this is the first time I really ever felt like I saw true courage on screen. I think only people who are feeling out of their league can have courage. Surely this movie makes us wonder if we'd have the guts to step up in such a situation but on the drive home from this movie I went on a rant to my two friends about how none of us has to wait until our plane is hijacked for such an opportunity. We face these choices every day. Life is huge. Step up or cave. I am so inspired by this film. Beautifully directed. And true. Amazing. Poignant treatment of a complex event too. The scene which interplays between the terrorists and hostages each praying is maybe the defining scene of our times.
16. United 93 (2006)
After watching this movie I was saddened that it was pretty much the first time I ever remembered hearing, or at least noticing, the genocide in Rwanda. I went out and bought Romeo D'Allaire's account of the story (he is the Canadian UN officer played by Nolte pictured above) and was deeply moved. I have tended to lean hard on pacifism and this movie and this book changed my mind. I am still what I'd call a pacifist but I now see a place for a well-trained military and am a huge fan of the concept of the UN and wish for Canada to lead the way as peacekeepers in our world. Another thing I really take from this is that sense you get watching it that the murderers with the guns are absolute cowards and pansies. This story is one of the greatest tragedies of my lifetime and this film deepened my awareness of depravity, showed me again the fine line between evil and complicence to evil, and convinced me again of the courage and power and extreme difficulty of being a true peacemaker. It is bound to hurt (and again, the thoughts conjurred up are of Christ).
I guess I hit on some themes with this batch. I didn't realize I was doing that when I formed my list. I guess I can't help but preach eh?