Films every man should see

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“We are men, and men united are invincible.” So says Ray Winston in Darren Aronofsky’s 2014 film Noah. Winston plays a hard, tough rebel who is determined to get on board the ark, at any cost, once the rain starts to fall. However, when I was at the screening, one wag shouted out this rallying cry: “No they are not, Chelsea are!”

It was so funny I forgave the interruption! But it raises an interesting point. How invincible are men? Particularly in the movies? From the response of many to the final scene of the last Bond film, No Time to Die, it would appear that we do expect our male heroes to be, not only handsome, but charming, street-smart and above all invincible. I will never forget the phone call I got from my brother just after he had seen Daniel Craig’s last outing as Bond. He simply said: “They can’t do that”. Well, they did! Turns out Bond was only human after all.

It was a brave move by the Bond producers and one which reminds us all of our mortality. For my part I think that’s to be commended. We all need to face the fact that one day we will pass on, which in turn should spur us to make the most of each day. As a Christian, a disciple of Jesus Christ, I believe that because he died on the cross to pay the price for my wrong doings, and because he rose again, when death comes, I will find myself in heaven.

Bond isn’t the only hero to remind us of our mortality. Captain Kirk died in Star Trek Generations (cue the ‘Bridge on the Captain’ joke. Hans Solo was sacrificed in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and even Superman met his end in 2016’s Superman v Batman: Dawn of Justice. Arnie’s good Terminator sacrificed himself at the end of the second film. So, the question becomes, not so much when we are going to die but how are we going to spend the time between now and then?

Of course, most heroes do live to fight another day. At last count Bruce Willis ‘died hard five times. Jason Bourne, despite rumours to the contrary, survived through four films and Batman is certainly still with us.

However, the reality is that not many of us are actually going to end up engaging in the sort of lifestyle of these supermen. For most of us the best we can hope for is a satisfying job, enough money to pay the mortgage with maybe a bit to spare, a nice holiday every now and then and a lovely, loyal family. Nothing wrong with any of those things of course. In fact, given the world we live in, that actually sounds like a pretty good way to spend our three score and ten years. But can the movies actually help us become better at . . . well, being men?

Here are a few suggestions of movies which suggest ways in which we might transform into the kind of men we all aspire to be, regardless of the hand life has dealt us. I’ve picked five that seem to be pertinent. I am sure you will be able to pick many, many more. Some of these may seem odd choices but stick with me.

The Truman Show: Life can be confusing, and we may never achieve all our ambitions. But don’t give up on them. Keep going, keep trying. Be nice to everyone and they will be nice to you. And as for the girl of your dreams, do all it takes to be with her. As a Christian I do believe that God is up there watching over me and all will be OK. (I always found it interesting that the character name of the director in The Truman Show is CHRISTof.) Chase your dreams, even if they don’t come true, at least you will have the satisfaction of knowing you tried.

Death Becomes Her: A strange choice maybe, but check it out. Having just played all action hero John McClane in the box office smash Die Hard, Bruce Willis went on to play the weak, subservient, and rather measly Ernest Manville in this science fiction comedy. Lessons: be careful who you fall in love with, and don’t allow yourself to be dominated, even by Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn. Learn to stand up for yourself.

Schindler’s List: There comes a time when every man must examine himself to ensure that he is doing the right thing and that he can live with his conscience, no matter what the personal cost maybe. Give yourself and your life for the sake of others and you will discover what life is really all about. Sacrifice is worth it in the end.

The Indiana Jones films: Set yourself goals and go for them. Learn to deal with the past but take time to correct the mistakes you have made. Fortune and glory aren’t worth it, if it means selling your soul. Prove to others that you are trustworthy, and they will follow you, even into the well of souls or a temple of doom.

Risen: My favourite ‘Christian’ movie of all time. Jospeh Fiennes plays a battle-hardened Roman soldier, who is present at the crucifixion and burial of Christ. A few days later, as rumours begin to spread that this Jesus has come back to life, he’s given the job of producing the body of Jesus in order to dispel the rumours. It’s a terrific film because as he pursues Jesus’s disciples, who he is convinced have stolen the body, he encounters the risen Christ himself and becomes a follower. It’s a beautiful, dramatic film which reminds us that following Jesus way is the only way to get the best out of life.

So are men invincible? Clearly not, as the last Bond film reminded us. Can life be fulfilling, satisfying and worth living? Yes, but only when lived as intended, with God at the centre, as Joseph Fiennes’ Roman soldier discovered. In the end, the choice of how we choose to live is up to us. So, in the words of a thousand-year-old knight in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: “Choose wisely”.

Main Photo Credit: Andrea Picaquadio via Pexels

Andy Godfrey

Andy Godfrey is a speaker with Outreach UK and has been in full-time Christian work for many years. He is a founding member of the Mark Kermode Appreciation Society and has a collection of nearly 3,000 movies. He’s also an ardent Bristol City fan.
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