January 18, 2009 by

Thoughts on Revolution, and Choosing Life


Categories: food for thought, movies

Yesterday, I saw the movie Revolutionary Road. If you haven’t seen it yet, I won’t give too many details so as not to spoil it for you; and a bit of caution–there is adult content in it, and it is NOT for children.

But I have to tell you that it was one of the most thought-provoking, powerful, intelligent statements about living life that I have seen in a movie.

As the trailers suggest, the basic theme of the movie is a young married couple’s struggle with trying to regain their passion for living after falling into the typical snare of mundane suburban living in the 1950s. As I watched, I was amazed at how much I related to the characters and their desire for something more–and how the world around them tried to keep them boxed in.

As the couple takes steps to try and revitalize their existence, you can see the “supporting” characters around them express shock, disbelief, confusion, even criticism, and then retreat fearfully back into their “safe” zones of denial and mundane-ness. And yet–you could tell that inside, many of these characters wished they had the same passion. But rather than be inspired, they chose to criticize. Some of the words people used to describe this couple were crazy, irresponsible and immature. Why?

Because they wanted to really live.

What struck me so much about it was the truth that it told about our culture–because although this story takes place in the ’50s, we deal with many of the same attitudes today. It’s funny how society creates this cookie-cutter scenario of how life is done, these unwritten parameters of what is considered “normal”–and anyone who dares to dream of more is marginalized, not because they are doing something wrong, but simply because they are doing it differently. When you go off the beaten path, it makes people uncomfortable because you’re breaking ranks, you’re stirring up trouble, you’re rocking the boat.

How many times do we let others rob us of our dreams and desires because they are considered “unrealistic?” How often are we urged not to set our expectations too high, lest we be disappointed? How often do we let people convince us that the quality of life we are pursuing simply doesn’t exist?

And yet…I look in Scripture, and I see where Jesus said He came to give us life more abundantly. I see where it says in God’s presence is fullness of joy. I see a whole chapter in Hebrews where people were lauded for taking risks by faith. I guess what I’m saying is that God has given us life so we can live it in fullness. And there is something else He said in Scripture. He said He’s given us the choice between life and death, and therefore, we must choose life.

In other words, this kind of life doesn’t just happen to you by a stroke of fate. We choose it. In a world where it seems everything is coming against this passion for life and trying to squelch it–we must live it as a choice. And I think that happens when we choose to live from the heart, to dare to dream, and to be “awake” within the moments we are living. To embrace the blessings we have right in front of us, and be thankful for them, but not to be afraid to pursue our dreams.

I imagine that many will watch this movie, and this message will escape them. They will view the main characters, in a manner of speaking, through the eyes of the supporting cast, and wonder why they couldn’t just be happy doing the suburban thing. They will criticize the main characters for their bad choices (for they made some) instead of seeing the fire inside them. I could tell there were people in our theater who didn’t get it. But for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear…this movie contains a powerful message about choosing to live, rather than just existing.

In my opinion, the most powerful indictment in the film was contained in the one character in the movie who was genuinely classified as crazy. He was the only person in the film who spoke the truth everyone else was afraid to speak, and he was the only person who actually made sense.

Hmmm. 🙂

Musician. Composer. Recovering perfectionist. Minister-in-transition. Lover of puns. Hijacker of rock song references. Questioner of the status quo. I'm not really a rebel. Just a sincere Christ-follower with a thirst for significance that gets me into trouble. My quest has taken me over the fence of institutional Christianity. Here are some of my random thoughts along the way. Read along, join in the conversation. Just be nice.

4 Responses to Thoughts on Revolution, and Choosing Life

  1. Aaron

    You said It’s funny how society creates this cookie-cutter scenario of how life is done, these unwritten parameters of what is considered “normal”.
    I love it when I hear anyone use the word “normal” in describing people because it takes me back to a retreat I attended where the speaker said somthing to the effect of there being only ONE who has ever lived a normal life, he being Jesus. The rest of us are just trying (or not) to do the same. And the closer we get to really being normal, the weirder we will look to the world. So when I feel liking I am pushing the envelope of what is “normal”, I ask why; Is it to be more like Jesus? Then good, if not, I am just being wierd (which happens sometimes too!).
    Be normal!

  2. Jeff McQ

    Be warned–not an easy flick to watch. But so far with every criticism I’ve heard of the film, you could tell the message was sort of lost on them. Let me know what you think.

    That’s probably a good way to look at it. At any rate, Jesus is our standard, our role model.

  3. Barb

    I saw this tonight. I loved the stilted acting during the parts of their lives that were dead and the change in the middle while they chose to live. The return to the dead life and stilted dialogue during the breakfast at the end of the movie was almost unbearable. I want to watch it again to put together more of what made it such a good movie that I missed the first time. (like did the music really stay the same all the way through?) Good film. Thanks for the recommendation.

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