Tag Archives: Film

How the movie ‘Gravity’ is an allegory of the Christ story

February 27, 2014

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By Bob Busch

(Warning: spoilers ahead.)Scene from movie 'Gravity'

I highly recommend the movie “Gravity.” I found it to be a riveting space-survival story, and, whatever the filmmaker’s intent, also an allegory for the Christ story.

“Gravity” is set in low-earth orbit in the present day. The movie’s heroine, Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), is not a professional astronaut. She’s only aboard the space shuttle to deliver her research work, a new set of eyes so the Hubble Space Telescope can “scan to the edge of the universe.” Her colleague, Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), is a veteran astronaut on his last mission before retirement.

While Kowalski marvels at the beauty of the earth brimming with life below, Stone has turned her back to it. Her spirit died the day her young daughter died in a tragic accident, and she’s since buried herself in her work. Disasters ensue, and all but the two perish. And then Kowalski gives the supreme sacrifice so Stone might live. Stone is now alone and struggles to survive against insurmountable odds.

To me, “Gravity” is a movie masterpiece, both as a space story and as a spiritual metaphor for the Christ story. Kowalski represents Christ. Stone represents us, humanity. The voice from the Houston ground crew represents the voice of God. Contact appears lost when disaster strikes, and the astronauts’ pleas to “Houston from the blind” represent humanity’s pleas to an unseen and unheard God.

Kowalski’s sacrifice in the untethering scene represents Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Stone exclaims humanity’s cry: “But I had you!”

Abandoned and alone, literally and figuratively out of fuel, Stone despairs in the Upper Room of her marooned space capsule. She laments that no one will mourn for her, and she dismisses praying since she’s never prayed in her life. Bereft of hope, she chooses death by turning off the capsule’s oxygen.

Then the key scene: the miraculous visitation by Kowalski. He enters directly through the Upper Room capsule door. Is Kowalski a low-oxygen hallucination or a dream, or is this truly a resurrection visit from the divine? Whichever, the visit changes everything for Stone.

She’s now found the reason and purpose to go on. We see her Pentecost as she turns on the oxygen and breathes new life in the spirit. We see her re-entry from space, complete with tongues of fire as the space debris descends into the atmosphere. We’re witnessing the descent of the Holy Spirit onto man.

Whether she burns up in the next 10 minutes, or lives to tell the tale, she’s now fully embracing life’s every moment. She emerges from her water landing and her space-capsule womb, representing rebirth of body and soul. She crawls from the water onto the shore, representing man’s evolution to a new life in the spirit.

She clutches at the sand, uttering the simplest and most perfect prayer: “Thank you.” They are the movie’s final words. Finally, she marvels at life all around before walking off into the distance to begin her life anew, on this earth and life eternal.

As I look back at the movie, I ask what Stone was searching for in outer space. To me, she was searching for the key that would open the door, between heaven and earth, which stood between her and her beloved daughter. Her search for that key represents humanity’s search to be with God.

Nothing of this world proved to be the key that brought her to her daughter. Humanity’s greatest technologies failed and fell away. No solely human effort or idea or human being came to the rescue. The one and only key that opened the door was not of this world, but rather of the divine. It did not come from within Dr. Stone, but through a relationship with another. It was not earned through her efforts or intellect, but was freely given as a gift.

The one key that opened the door was Kowalski, symbolizing Christ. His sacrifice and resurrection was the key that allowed her to transcend the bonds of this world, to connect with her child. When she finally spoke to her daughter, she did not do so directly, but rather, through Kowalski: “Tell her I love her, and I’m not quitting.” Jesus is the intermediary who opens the door between heaven and earth.

Once the door opened, where did it lead? Not to a God residing somewhere “out there” in the heavens of outer space. As the movie’s opening credits state: “Life in space is impossible.” No, God is life, and life resides right here, at home. God is in the ground crew. Stone looked for the answer at the farthest edge of space. In the end, she found the answer was right here all along, in her own backyard.

And the rescuing voice that immediately called out to her, when her craft broke through the clouds, as she re-entered the land of the living? It was God’s voice in the Houston ground crew, calling out to her, amidst the other radio clutter symbolizing life’s daily distractions that keep us from hearing God’s call. Houston had appeared to her as an unresponsive dial tone when she had called, unseen and unheard. But Houston had been there all along, calling out to her, wanting to be with her. Only when she entered her new life in the spirit was she able to hear God’s ever-present call: “I’m here! I’m coming to rescue you!”

When Stone says “thank you” at the end, who is she thanking? An abstract God? A low-oxygen hallucination of her own making? I don’t think so. She’s thanking a very real God, made fully human and yet fully divine, through Kowalski (Christ). Jesus renamed Simon as “Peter,” meaning “the rock,” and like her namesake, Dr. Stone goes forth to the ends of the earth to share her new life in the Spirit.

The father-son team that created “Gravity” acknowledges many other spiritual paths throughout the film, from references to Buddhism to the Ganges River that is at the juncture of the Muslim and Hindu worlds. However, whatever the intent, to me, “Gravity” is a space movie that also serves as a beautiful metaphor for the Christ story.

Busch resides with his wife and three children in Minneapolis, where he raises money for new medicines development and doctor training at the University of Minnesota Health. The family attends the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis. He can be reached at robertbusch27@gmail.com.
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New video trailer – “The Mighty Macs”

September 23, 2011

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THE MIGHTY MACS is based on the true story of Cathy Rush and the Immaculata College girls basketball team. THE MIGHTY MACS will be in theaters October 2011.

Visit http://TheMightyMacs.com for more info.


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Martin Sheen & Emilio Estevez made a great movie in ‘The Way’

September 14, 2011

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Catholics won’t want to miss this very spiritual film

Martin Sheen fans will have yet another reason to value this actor who happens to be Catholic when they see “The Way.”

The premier is set for Oct. 7 in New York City — ironically — because Emilio Estevez, the writer/director, is quick to say that the movie is for people who live between Manhattan and Glendale, California. He said that, as he pitched this movie about a pilgrimage to movie industry execs in both New York and Hollywood, he could see their eyes glaze over. They’re not interested in making movies for thinking people, preferring films with nudity and things blowing up.

“They call this fly-over country,” Estevez said during a promotional stop in the Twin Cities. “I call it the United States.”

“The Way” is terrific, a great story superbly told and acted, with great scenery, with touching drama, with verbal and visual humor, with clever casting, with crisp, believable, thought-provoking dialogue, perfect soundtrack, characters you want to know better — the whole enchilada of what makes a satisfying evening before the big screen. Catch the trailer.

Here’s the gist of it: Sheen plays a curmudgeon of a California country club ophthalmologist who doesn’t approve of his adult son going off to see the world. There’s a poignant scene at the start when Sheen is driving his son to the airport and Sheen’s character, Tom Avery, is defending the life he’s chosen. Son Daniel, played by Estevez (Sheen’s real-life son), responds, “You don’t choose a life, dad. You live it.” That’s what this movie is about, although of course it’s much more complex and fulfilling than that.

The way of the film’s title is the Camino de Santiago, the thousand-year-old pilgrimage route from southern France through the Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Blessings are said to come to those who complete the journey to where tradition holds the remains of the Apostle James (Santiago in Spanish) are preserved in the Cathedral of Santiago. Daniel Avery sets out to walk the 480 miles but dies in a storm shortly after starting. When father Tom comes to claim his body, he decides to complete the journey his estranged son started.

Journey as metaphor

What Tom Avery learns along the way about himself and the difference between a life you choose and a life you live, makes for great movie watching. The reasons one walks the Camino — as played out by a wonderful cast — have a lot to say to everyone about our own journey through life and the approach we take on our journey: Do we walk it alone or do we jump in with others and accept both the rich rewards and the potential hurts?

Along with “The Help,” this new Sheen-Estevez vehicle could help Hollywood see that people are tired of the crap, to use Estevez’ word, that is on today’s movie screens. That there was something religious and spiritual about the movie he was pitching scared away agents and producers alike.

The reaction “The Way” is receiving as Sheen and Estevez make a 35-city bus tour to screen the movie before live audiences is telling them — and hopefully film executives — that this type of movie plays well to the majority of the country who don’t sit in filmdom’s isolated offices on the East or West Coast.

“The Way” will be in theaters around North America October 7. You won’t want to miss it.

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Make plans to see a Catholic film: “Vito Bonafacci”

July 27, 2011

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The Catholic Spirit is sponsoring a special local-run of the Catholic film, “Vito Bonafacci”.

Synopsis

Vito BonafacciVito Bonafacci is a successful businessman who enjoys his lifestyle and the riches he has accumulated.

But all that changes when one night he dreams he is having a heart attack. In that dream his mother appears from her grave and pleads with him to abandon his pursuit of greed and materialism. “Beware of the false gods of money, power, status and pleasure” she implores him, and then instructs him to “return to the true path of life”.

When Vito wakes, he is deeply affected by this vision and this leads him on a soul-searching journey to understand his life’s purpose. In a series of encounters with family and friends, he questions and explores the meaning of faith and the role religion plays in tempering one’s soul.

As the echo of his Mother’s words fills his thoughts he reaches out to his local priest to begin the renewal of his Catholic faith.

Quote

‘Vito Bonafacci’ an earnest film about a lapsed Roman Catholic in spiritual crisis, is a welcome reminder of religion’s true work. In a world fixated on bombast, ‘Vito Bonafacci’ offers a quiet haven for meaningful meditation.

– Daniel M. Gold, THE NEW YORK TIMES

Details

When: Friday, Aug. 26-Thursday, Sept. 1

Where: AMC Arbor Lakes 16
12575 Elm Creek Blvd., Maple Grove, MN
North of the I-94 – I-494 – I-694 junction
In the Arbor Lakes Mall area

Showtimes: 1-888-AMC 4FUN
http://www.amctheatres.com/ArborLakes

For more information about the film, visit http://www.vitobonafacci.com

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