Benjamin Button on friendship

I watched The Curious Case of Benjamin Button last night.  I found it a really sad and poignant film.  Particularly the way it explores building attachments, sharing experiences and loving people and then losing them.  Naturally, due to his reverse ageing, Benjamin is forced to deal with this even more head-on but it seems his peace is found in his acceptance that this is the way life is.

People come into your life, you love them, you lose them.

Yesterday some friends came to visit and asked if we’d stay in touch after we leave Solihull.  Of course we’d love to stay in touch with everybody everywhere but it just isn’t practical.  We’ve only been married 8 years and we have dozens of friends from Sheffield, Solihull, Montenegro and other places as well as many other friends we have known before we met.  All of these friends are precious to us but I think the best way to cherish a friendship is to recognise that it is a friendship for a season.

Maybe the friendship is for a particular job or course.  Or to help overcome a particular difficulty or stage in life.  Some friendships span a decade or two and maybe a few can last a lifetime.  But just because people drift or don’t have the practical means to keep in touch does not mean the friendship has been any less significant.

Facebook is great for keeping in touch with old friends but is there a danger that we end up prolonging friendships beyond their natural course and therefore diluting the impact of that person on our lives?  I’m not saying it is like this, it’s just a thought.

But anyway…my point is this;  let’s cherish the friendships we have and have had and be thankful for the different seasons that people come into our lives and the roles they play there.  To all my friends out there, thanks for being there.  I am very grateful for your support and all the great memories – I look forward to any times together in the future and will be sad if that is not meant to be…….

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SPOILER – The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Review – SPOILER

SPOILER – WARNING DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE FILM AND ARE WANTING TO GO

So I was disappointed again.  I really should not have been surprised.  It is Disney making the film after all and they are not making it to please lovers of the Chronicles of Narnia, they are mainly producing a film to make money in Hollywood.

To be honest I’m just writing this to get some pain off my chest – I think what bothers me most is that the makers chopped some of the classic scenes and descriptions – so here are some of the things I didn’t like:

  • The change in plot was weird and weak.  What was all that about green mist swallowing things up and an island of evil that needed to be defeated?  Yes, they captured the ‘battles within’ that are core to The Voyage but to have some glowing green island as the focus of the ‘evil within’ was Disney at its worst.  And the quest for the seven swords was utterly unnecessary and rushed.
  • The visit to the Lone Islands was far too brief and simple – they almost developed a great sense of fear amongst the culture of the islands but resolved the slave problem far to easily.  Lord Berne’s character was wrecked and the wonderful character of Governor Gumpus omitted.
  • The Duffelpuds and Coriakin were a let down – again totally rushed through.  And the spellbook in Coriakin’s house – Lewis creates some great spells that Lucy reads – why do they need to do away with them all and make up a new one about snow?  Oh, yes, so the film can look all Christmassy on the trailers – duh!!
  • Eustace as a dragon was good but they missed out the scene in the treasure cave where it dawns on Eustace that he has become a dragon.  It is a classic part of the book and I missed it.
  • Ramandu’s island was a let down with Ramandu and the birds from Aslan’s country not making an appearance and Ramandu’s daughter falsely depicted as a star that can polymorph – in the book Caspian marries her but there is no hint of that here.
  • And the climax of the film is WEAK WEAK WEAK.  Suddenly everybody is ok and then a second later Caspian, Lucy, Edmund, Eustace and Reepicheep are at the edge of the world.  It’s like you fell asleep and missed a few scenes.  And they missed Aslan changing from a lamb to a lion – powerful imagery – probably too explicit.

My favourite aspect of the film were the character’s of Eustace and Reepicheep.  They were clearly the best developed and a lot of time was given to their growing companionship.  It was heart warming.  And there are some great one-liners – some true to C.S. Lewis and some newly created.  I love Reepicheep’s classic defense of his faith in Aslan’s country, “We have nothing, if not belief”.

OK, if you enjoy a children’s fantasy, and are not hoping to see a beloved book come to life on the screen then you will really enjoy The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  Reviewers have generally been much kinder then me.  I was just hoping for something different.  I just wish Lewis was around today.  He was such a master of culture he would have known exactly how to depict his creation on screen.  And despite it all, I’m looking forward to seeing how they do The Silver Chair!

However, my final damning verdict is that the dated plastic BBC version is preferable to Disney’s.

The evil within the Dawn Treader

On Monday night we went on a trip to the cinema in the capital city, Podgorica.  They have a fairly new mall  there – Delta City – it’s pretty smart and impressive with a cinema complex but just doesn’t feel like Montenegro to me.  Ah well, the times they are a changing.

Original Narnia Illustration

We went to watch the Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  I am a massive Narnia fan but, as with the other Narnian films, I was disappointed.  That is mainly because I am grumpy and difficult to please.  You can read my critique of the film next week, which gives you a bit longer to watch it before I spoil it for you – it is worth watching, honestly.

So there were 14 of us in the cinema, all from church or English conversation club friends.  It was nice to have it to ourselves.  Anya provided some entertainment when her tooth fell out and landed in her coca-cola bottle!  Less than two hours in coke and the tooth went brown!

The main theme of the film was inspiring – there is evil out there, it will tempt you from within, are you strong enough to overcome the evil within?  The main characters all had personal struggles, they are heroes but they struggle.  I do not believe that any of us are strong enough to overcome the evil within.  We are all broken and bad people and we need the love of God in us to overcome the evil within us.    I say the only way to stop the evil inside creeping out and hurting ourselves and other people is to surrender to God.  He knows what is best and when we invite him to guide us and help us then we can defeat the evil in our hearts and begin to shine.

Gran Torino – Vengeance and Justice

There’s a stack of themes in this Clint Eastwood film.  The most gripping pulls together vengeance and justice.

Many cultures have blood feuds running through their histories, sadly, right through to present day.  Imagine a man gets drunk and kills someone.  The victim’s brother kills the original perpetrator and is then in turn killed by the drunk man’s son and so it continues, and escalates.  In the Godfather Trilogy both Vito and Michael begin with righteous intent but end up trapping both themselves and their families in an endless tragedy of death.

Gran Torino sets the scene for an innocent family to be trapped in such a scenario.  For me this is where the famous one liners of Jesus…’turn the other cheek’ and ‘go the extra mile’…have their true meaning.  They are not about being a doormat or being nice and kind.  They are about putting an end to injustice through offensive sacrifice.  What do I mean?

A slave would be beaten with the back of their master’s hand.  If he then turned his cheek his master would need to use the palm of his hand if he wanted to strike the slave again.  To hit someone with the palm of your hand in Palestine 2000 years ago would be to consider someone your equal.  Thus the cycle of injustice would be broken.

Also at that time, the occupying Roman soldiers could force a civilian to carry their pack for one mile.  If the carrier continued to carry the pack after this the soldier would be breaking the law and get in serious trouble.  Hence, the civilian could resist the occupation without physically fighting back.

Life is full of these situations where the natural reaction is either to roll over and give up or to get revenge.  Jesus advocates neither.  Use your brain and heart and fight injustice with a sacrifice so daring that it destroys the cycle of evil.  Gran Torino poses once such situation.  A very interesting ending.

Clint early on in the film (don’t watch if bad language offends you)

 

King Arthur

Just finished watching King Arthur (the film starring Clive Owen and Keira Knightley).  I absolutely love this genre – the epic battle scenes, the cause, the honour, the inner battles…

I relate so much of it to the nitty gritty of real life and find it all incredibly motivating and inspiring.  Today and in years gone by there are individuals who are willing to lay down their lives for a cause whether it be for freedom, honour or whatever.  I am always challenged as to whether I am prepared to do the same.  And its not some hypothetical scenario somewhere out there.  I am challenged whether I am prepared to lay down my life right now.  The cause?  The cause is the Kingdom of God.

Whether we acknowledge it or not there is a spiritual realm out there full of evil and full of good and full of those who don’t know which side they’re on.  I have the assurance that God is the victor but there are so many who need to be fought for, the battle is not over and much can be achieved.  I simply desire that each day I am prepared to hold out against the desires for self and submit my time, energy and life to doing the right thing.

Perfume

Last night Rada was away so I watched a film that I knew she wouldn’t want to watch.  It was called Perfume and was recommended by Cheryl who I share an office with.

It left me feeling not good.  I don’t mind watching films normally that are difficult to watch if you feel like you have changed for the better afterwards.  Most stories, most films are like this.  They take you somewhere and you have grown.  But I really struggled to make any positive sense of this one.

Eventually, as I was hanging the washing out afterwards, I found it.  I felt better but it was barely a satisfactory conclusion to three hours of my life.  Nevertheless, it did give me a gem.

The Gem:  Some people in this world are so unloved that they truely feel unlovable and are, themselves, unable to love.  They need saving and they are all around us.  If you really open your eyes you will be swamped by the devestation of souls.  Spirits that are void of love.  An ounce of love offered in such circumstances will cause a sizable tremor in the fabric of reality around that person.  Ripples will travel and effect and the world will change.

Because of love.

I can’t be happy all the time!

 I have grown increasingly discontent this week.  A mixture of things have caused this; more vandalism on the house, being ill for a couple of days, not getting as much work done as I want, having no motivation to pursue God, the faff of estate agents and mortgages and the general irritation that humans bring me (apologies if you are a person).

I find myself shouting inwardly, “if only I could sort everything out, make everything run smoothly”.  And that is where my main problem is.  I all too often live in a state that requires me to be in control, to be successful, to be able to cope.  However, bad things happen in life and it is never going to run smoothly.  Does this mean that I will never be content?  What a depressing thought!

I opened the Bible in desparation and it fell open at Psalm 61.  Give it a read.  The truth is God never said life would be easy and that we would always be happy but he does promise us peace and joy. (Or as Tezza likes to call it – Shalom!)  So how can we live in this peace and joy?

Don’t be a slave to your emotions!  We can’t help feeling down sometimes, or sad, or fed up.  But we don’t need to let that effect how we live from moment to moment.  It takes determination and guts and is a painful sacrifice but…

You know when you watch films like Braveheart, Gladiator, Lord of the Rings etc. do you long to be part of those huge adventures putting your courage and honour to the test?  Well I do all the time, and the truth is life is that adventure and it takes just as much determination, guts, courage, honour and sacrifice as in those epic stories.

So next time you get Can’t Be Arsed syndrome with life remember that even if emotionally and physically you are down your spirit, with God’s help, can rise above these mortal factors and win those little battles that all add up to a life well lived.

And, if all else fails, take heart from the truth that Anya spoke earlier this week when we told her to smile, “I can’t be happy all the time!”  Quite perceptive for a three year old!