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Job, Christ and Robert Redford

Sun, May. 04, 2014 Posted: 08:35 PM


Robert Redford, aged 77, has been recently named amongst Time Magazine’s 2014 most Influential People in the World. He will perhaps be best remembered for his latest performance in “All is lost”, a truly inspiring movie. After surviving the confusion in ”Noah”, many may have pretty much decided to steer clear of Hollywood’s Christian genre and go to the Bible for their inspiration. “All is lost” does not pretend to be a Christian movie but it closely, in many ways, mirrors the battle of faith.

The plot begins with an unexpected boating mishap which causes the unnamed skilled mariner to eventually come to the conclusion, after eight days, in his final note "I'm sorry. I know that means little at this point, but I am. I tried. I think you would all agree that I tried. To be true, to be strong, to be kind, to love, to be right, but I wasn't." He declares, "All is lost."… a final admission of failure, guilt and futility of all self-help methods. After a brilliant and skilled survival effort, he is defeated and alone … hopeless. The movie has only a sole actor who says absolutely nothing but "help" throughout the film …if only our words were fewer.

Job is an authority on coping with the unexpected mishap. He resembles the mariner who first battles to cope with one bad news after another until he comes to realize that all reserve of ideas for survival have been exhausted when he declares “though He slay me yet will I trust Him”.

Robert Redford patches the damage on the boat, brings out manuals and maps and gets busy with doing all he can to rescue a bad situation …he progresses to repair his radio. Learns to use a sextant … It was St Francis of Assisi who was quoted as saying Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.

When it looks like things can’t get any worse, the stormy weather comes to toss up the boat with raging waves … as if to finish off an already beleaguered survivor.

In our Christian life, we often find unexpected situations, we find ourselves repairing and patching the mistakes and wounds suffered …mending holes causing our boats to sink. We go again and again to our manual the Bible to seek answers and labor much in prayer … our radio to the heavens …hoping anxiously to pick a signal of assurance that our cry of “SOS” has been picked up. But there are times when all hell truly breaks loose, when we abandon the boat, damaged beyond repair, tossed and smashed by the storms and get into the rubber raft. nervous of how long the weak contraption will hold up in the angry ocean.

Robert Redford in the raft begins to run out of rations and attempts to fish, only to find the raft now surrounded by sharks. Job has a similar encounter with his friends who come to comfort him. Why do the sharks show up when he is in the rubber raft and not when in the boat? Why do we have the worst arrows attacking us at our more vulnerable moments and not when we were strong to respond and defend adequately against them?

It becomes increasingly clear to the mariner that he will not make it … then he sees a passing boat. Alas help has come … but he screams, waves, lighting torches in vain as the large ship passes by and misses the raft. How many times in our troubles do we sense that an answer has at last come, only to find that it was not to be so ? How many potential encounters of rescue in trouble ended not as we would have hoped ? But in this movie we learn to hold the fort, never ever to quit, holding on, doing all that we know how to do …going back to the manual, the radio, repairing, clinging and hoping .

There are few movies rich in learnings for life you can watch over and over again with family and not be bored and this for me was one of them. The indomitable spirit of the boatman is an epitome of a rugged perseverance that all especially pilgrims can seek to imbibe.

Eventually after defeating the angry waves, surviving the storms, waving fruitlessly at passing ships that simply pass by … the ration of canned meals are exhausted … hunger, weariness, wounds and the waiting sharks spell a soon sure sad end…

The mariner writes a final note which he puts in a jar and throws in the sea …soon expecting death. But later that very night, he sees a flickering light in the distance, possibly another ship. He is out of signaling torches and desperately tears pages from his journal and charts to create a fire. Eventually the fire consumes his raft and he falls into the water, struggling to swim. Now he has no raft, no boat, no rations only him trying to stay afloat in the vast ocean. He finally stops swimming and lets himself sink to the bottom of the ocean …shutting his eyes to die. As he sinks, he opens his eyes as if for one last time but now he sees the hull of a boat with a search light slowly approaching the burning raft.

He swims up towards the light and comes up to the surface to grasp an already outstretched hand. Help was on the way and he did not know it and would have missed it by seconds.

The final scene reminds me of Christ and Peter in Mat 14:30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. Mat 14:31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? Mat 14:32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.

Do not give up …rather, give your hand to the outstretched hand of Christ… soon also all the contrary winds will cease. The movie directed by J.C. Chandor ends with a peculiar sound track and the chanting of Amen which earned Alex Ebert a golden globe award for best score.

olabode ososami