Friday, August 26, 2011

...and the Oscar for Christian concepts and sybolism cleverly hidden in a secular film goes to...

Even though I’m completely responsible for this weeks Kingdom Blogger theme, this was one of my most difficult weeks. Not because I didn’t have anything to say…the problem was picking just a single movie/television show to focus on and dissect.

Those who know me (or regularly read Tony C Today) are already rolling their eyes and waiting for the Lonesome Dove or The Godfather breakdown. Sorry, Not today. While I often spew quotes from either movie like idioms on commitment to family and friends, I want to go with another one of my favorite classics…

The Shawshank Redemption

Has it been done before? Probably. Is it a tad overt? Maybe. But, the scene in the picture here alone warrants a closer look at how a prison movie can depict Christian values/themes.

The main character, Andy Dufresne, is as Job-like of a character as you will find in modern-day cinema. Convicted for a crime he didn’t commit, Andy is sent to his own person hell at Shawshank prison. But Andy isn’t completely innocent either. While he didn’t actually pull the trigger that kills his adulterous wife and her lover, he did contemplate the act in the movie’s opening scene (Matthew 5:28) and left himself open to incrimination and circumstantial evidence that lead to his judicial fall.

Upon arriving at Shawshank, Andy is first met by the Bible-thumping Warden Norton who professes to believe in two things: discipline and the Bible. The problem, as we come to realize, is Norton has very little self-discipline in his own life and doesn’t really apply the principles found in his beloved Bible to his life. He may know the Bible…but he sure doesn’t live the Bible. Norton would have made a great Pharisee.

After a rough start to prison life, Andy quickly accumulates the right kind of friends…well…as prison friends go that is. One of those friends is an old convict who most of the other inmates look up to called Red. Sentenced as a teenager for murder, Red is the prison ‘go-to’ guy if you need something. Andy’s first encounter with Red is to request a rock hammer which completely baffles the older con. When Red finally fills Andy request, they both share a laugh at the absurdly small hammer and the thoughts of someone being able to dig their way out with something that small.

The Shawshank Disciples

I believe the rock hammer is symbolic of Jesus for several reasons. First, Andy is in desperate need of Hope, and for him, the rock hammer represents that Hope (Romans 15:4). Red initially rejects that Hope stating Hope is a very dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane. Later in the movie, Andy leads Red to understand Hope by providing him a incentive to continue on with life once Red is released back into the world. Andy writes to Red- Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.

Jesus is my rock...hammer.

The symbolism is further carried out between Andy and the Warden. Despite coming to knowledge that Andy may in fact be innocent of the convicted crime, Norton keeps the information buried because he knows too much about his dirty dealings. During one exchange the Warden discovers the seemingly innocent tool handing it back to Andy with-I'd hate to deprive you of this. Salvation lies within. Later the Warden discovers Andy had, in fact, used the small hammer to dig his way out of his cell while all along hiding the tool in a carved out space in his Bible (which happens to start in the book of Exodus if you pay attention closely). Hope, coming from within the Bible, leads to salvation. Hmmmm. Andy jabs back at the Norton in a letter left for him that states- Dear Warden, you were right. Salvation lay within.

One last point (and I’m skipping many others), the closing scene shows Red reaching Andy
on a beach in a scene many would say looks like Heaven…or at least the Sea of Galilee.

Watching this film, it's easy to forget this is actually a Stephen King story.


Andrea York said...

This is a really well written commentary, offering great nuggets of truth. Excellent! I loved it and I think you are spot on.

David-FireAndGrace said...

Well, at the very least I need to see the movie, have already seen Jesus!

Enjoyed it!

Tracy said...

You know, I've never actually seen this movie but have heard people talk about it repeatedly. Now that I'm working in detention center (which is a whole lot like prison) I really want to see it.

John Cowart said...

Hi David,

I really enjoyed your analysis here. Stephen King is among my favorite authors.

I really linked to his Christian message in the novel Desperation.


Related Posts with Thumbnails