With thanks to page sponsor: First Congregational Church - UCC, Jackson, Michigan
Movies/Scenes Representing Redemption
- John Q
- This movie depicts the plight of a father (Denzel Washington) willing to lay down his life for his son and therefore should be cross-referenced under Abraham and Issac and Cross and Resurrection in the sense of the suffering of God through the evil of Jesus death. As a social commentary, it pricks our conscience about a society with medical services for those who can afford them and death for those who cannot. As redemptive drama, it also shows the metanoia or reversal of thinking in several characters who broker the power of the HMO medical system but in the end ultimately side with the powerlessness of John Q. and his son. (Dr. Barry A. Woodbridge, Orangethorpe Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Fullerton, CA)
- My Dog Skip (2000)
- Skip as a redeemer figure for Willie's dad and the family.
- The Cell (2000)
- I have watched this movie twice and am struck by the redemption theme and the symbolism of the water, particularly the baptism. The J. Lopez character seems to take on the persona of the Virgin. Also there is the implied suggestion at one point that perhaps the FBI agent was himself an abused child who resisted the temptation to turn to evil. (Pam Brewer)
- The Sixth Sense (1999)
- Cole/Vincent and Malcolm redeem each other's lives.
- Deep End of the Ocean
- The scene where the mother realizes her toddler is gone and begins a frantic, all-out search is a great clip to connect with Luke 15 type things... The all out search is emotional, gripping, and one people easily identify with. (Martha Johannides, Quest Community Church, Lexington KY)
- Bicentennial Man (1999)
- Andrew (Robin Williams) is an android who develops the sensitivity, creativity and emotions of a human. Over a period of more than 150 years, he persues his dream of being recognized as human. His appeals are denied because, since he cannot die, he lacks the essential mortality of humanity. Finally, Andrew arranges for his body to deteriorate. He would rather die as a man than live forever as a machine. Andrew enbraces the "cross" of mortality, giving up his life in order to gain it. (FUMC, Natchitoches, LA)
- Angela's Ashes (1999)
- When Frankie finally encounters a priest who listens to him with empathy, rather than judging him as inferior because of poverty, he pours out his whole long story of suffering. Through the tears and the release, he also repents of his sins, and experiences nothing short of miraculous cleansing and a new beginning. (Brenda Byrne and Brad Wilson)
- The Confession (1999)
- Bleakie "self-destructs" - sacrifices his career and all he's lived for, in order to find himself and be regenerated as a moral man.
- Three Kings (1999)
- Iraqi rebels and American soldiers save each other.
- The Bone Collector (1999)
- Lincoln Rhyme's life is resurrected and even redeemed through his relationship with Amelia.
- Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
- "Stop. I am ready to redeem him." (DVD Chapter 22)
- Galaxy Quest
- Although Mathesar thinks that the Galaxy Quest crew has saved his people, it is the "innocent faith" of the aliens which redeems lives that have become meaningless for the crew.
- The death of Alexander Dane's fan inspires Dane to become what he was perceived to be.
- Double Jeopardy (1999)
- Libby and Lehman (chapter 15) "You saved my life." "You saved mine, too."
- see Charles Henderson's review "The Hurricane and Dr King" at About.Com.
- Waking Ned Divine
- The Irish film, Waking Ned Divine, reflects well on the theme of one man's death benefitting an entire community. Ned's death not only brings wealth to his small village, it brings redemption for the characters who are trapped in their small lives. (Miles Hardy)
- Simon Birch (1998)
Fifth Element (1997)
- Leeloo as the redemptor who lights up the world and explodes evil. (see review at Hollywood Jesus)
- Good Will Hunting
- Sean and Will are savior figures for each other, and the relationship between them redeems both of their lives.
- The Postman (1997)
- The Postman as redeemer figure - redeeming others through his own misguided deeds and words.
- Sling Blade
- "By viewing the film from a theological perspective, Karl?s act of vengeance is also one of of atonement. He feels that those who commit murder will go to "Hades." Therefore, Karl has done more than give his life for the happiness of a child; he has sacrificed his soul." ("The Messianic Figure in Film: Christology Beyond the Biblical Epic," Matthew McEver, Journal of Religion and Film, 1998.)
- Kolya (1996)
- Louka's life is redeemed as he gives himself for Kolya.
Holland's Opus (1995)
- I think there is a theme of resurrection and atonement too. It was only in the death of Mr. Holland's teaching position that his symphony gained life, or to look at it differently, his students didn't realize (at least not publicly) who Mr. Holland was in their lives until his position was cut. (Matthew Phillips, Senior, Duke Divinity School)
- Dead Man Walking (1995)
- Poncelet wants to quickly claim that Jesus has taken care of any sins he may have. Prejean encourages him to take responsibility for what he has done in order to die a noble death as a child of God.
- Babe (1995)
- Narrator: "This is a tale about an unprejudiced heart, and how it changed our valley forever. There was a time not so long ago when pigs were afforded no respect, except by other pigs; they lived their whole lives in a cruel and sunless world. In those days pigs believed that the sooner they grew large and fat, the sooner they'd be taken into Pig Paradise, a place so wonderful that no pig had ever thought to come back."
- Leaving Las Vegas
- Ben's and Sera's tragically futile attempts at loving and redeeming each other.
- The Shawshank Redemption
- In the Shawshank Redemption, the narrator (Morgan Freeman's character) is healed from his despair by Tim Robbins'character's hope in the face of suffering. This is also the "redemption" of the title (I think), that one man is redeemed by the suffering of an innocent man who takes on the suffering of prison anyway, seeing life within and beyond it, and living fully, and freely, even in his captivity, and can still seize the opportunity for freedom. (Edie Bird, Fayetteville, Arkansas)
- The Adventures of
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
- Afraid of his son's rejection, Tick pretends to be something he's not. His son matter of factly accepts his father, and Tick is able to return home physically and internally.
- Pulp Fiction (1994)
- Jules Winnfield: Wanna know what I'm
Jules Winnfield: Your life. I'm givin' you that money so I don't hafta kill [you].
- Jules Winnfield: Wanna know what I'm buyin' Ringo?
- The Fisher King (1991)
- Jack wants to "pay the fine and go home" after discovering that Parry's wife was killed after Jack made remarks about Yuppies on his radio show. He discovers that redemption is often more difficult, and occasionally mutual. Parry and Jack each sacrifice themselves for the other's healing.
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day
- In the closing scene, the Terminator (who in the previous film was the arch-enemy - links to Lucifer!), is lowered into a vat of molten metal, because this is the only way to destroy his otherwise indestructible micro-chip and the power of destruction that it contains. The destruction must be accomplished by his friends, as he is unable to "self-destruct" - powerful connotations for considering the Judas story. The knowledge of what it means to be human and to feel grief is also highlighted. The final image of his destruction is a hand (God to man? Crucifixion?) reaching up (also links back to the last image in the first film, where the hand which kept coming alive represented the power of evil.) The whole film has strong themes of salvation and the cost of salvation - for instance, is it justifiable to destroy a family in order to save the world? (David Hogg)
of Montreal (1989)
- This is a film that is so rich it could illustrate any number of themes: discipleship, temptation, redemption, etc. Jesus of Montreal tells the story of an actor hired to help update a parish's annual Passion Play. He gathers a group of actors around him and in interesting ways the actors lives mirror the stories of Jesus and his followers from the gospels. Memorable scenes for me include the gathering of the actors (Jesus calling his disciples); the actor destroying a television studio (Jesus destroys the temple); a lawyer trying to get the actor to sign a contract (temptation in the wilderness); and the dead actor's organs being donated so that others can have life. (Rev. Maria Nightingale)
- Les Miserables
- The opening scene is a wonderful picture of redemption and grace as the priest gives Jean Valjean both his freedom and the silver candlesticks; even after Valjean has stolen from him and beaten him. (Jim Branch)
- Rain Man (1988)
- The "successful" Charlie Babbit is emotionally immature and lacks integrity. His "childlike" autistic brother becomes the mediator of Charlie's redemption and growth.
- The Mission (1986)
- In the film, The Mission, I found the scene where Robert DeNero's character (a slave trader) is cut free from the ropes that held him in bondage by the natives whose lives he had slaughtered very powerful. (Judith Snyder)
- Tron (1982)
- The movie "Tron," which came out sometime in the 80s, is the story of the Incarnation. A man has created a computer game; in it, characters ask one another, "Do you believe in the User?" The warriors in the program are trying to resist an evil being, but they're losing because REAL evil enters the being and he begins to take over computers in the real world. The "User," watches the game in anguish, saying, "Don't give up guys! You're the best program in the world! I wrote you." Finally, he realizes there's only one remedy: so he becomes one of the characters in the game, in order to overthrow evil. I've used this as a retreat centerpiece several times. (Kristen Ingram)
- Time Bandits (1981)
- I am using Time Bandits this week for Lenten discussion on the Fall and Redemption, the power of good over evil, the human propensity for trying to be God rather than acting fully as human. The theology is excellent (I think, anyway) and the film is SO much more than its cover blurb says. It helps to watch it more than once, since the dialog is British, and the dialog and action both move very fast. The elements of the film are very tightly constructed, with scenes inter-related one to another; i.e., the game show that Kevin's mother and father watch at the beginning of the film becomes Satan's enticement and trap later on. The Supreme Being is so perfectly a low-church Anglican cleric, that we Episcopalians feel right at home. (Mary Goshert)
- Cool Hand Luke (1967)
- The 50 eggs also represent the 50 souls of the inmates that Luke sacrifices himself for. (Dean Cramer)
- On the Waterfront
- See Theresa Shetler's paper, "'I?ll Be Back!' The Battle continues?On the Waterfront: Art Reflects Culture."