Monday, February 25, 2013

Film and Theo: "Take Shelter" Modern Noah's Ark with apocalyptic spin

Emotional film wonderfully played by Jessica Chastain and Michael Shannon about the life of a modern day prophet who foretold about end of the world. Will he be treated as a savior? or someone crazy and stoned to death?

The story of Noah's Ark and the flood has been told over a million times over centuries from generations to generations around the world. What will it look like if something similar happen today? Will Noah have been treated differently as a savior as he had warned people around him after the end of the world? Will he be stoned to death? Or will he be treated as a schizophrenia to be drugged? That's the story of "Take Shelter" with a modern day twist about the end of the world and a man is doing everything he can to save his family. And it doesn't come at a better time when the whole world is suffering from the global economic turmoil, earthquakes shaking countries down to it bone, tsunami and floods happening in everywhere all over the world

 In "Take Shelter", we have Curtis(Michael Shannon) as the protangist, who is a construction worker at an oil sand company, a gentle husband having a lovely wife Samantha (wonderfully played by Jessica Chastain) and a six year old deaf daughter having a stable quality life. In the very first scene of the film, he begins to see visions of dark clouds gathering like the face of the devil, raindrops of thick and heavy motor oil coming down, clusters of birds flying around the sky dropping dead onto his car. One is immediately reminded of the miracles performed by Moses in the book of Exodus. As the film progress, the visions of destruction builds up, he is seeing the family dog attacking him, crashing of his car, strangers kidnapping his daughter, all the while he kept it all to himself without saying a word to anyone around him. He began to borrow money from the bank, borrowed construction equipments from the company to make a storm shelter for the upcoming apocloyse. The conflicts build on when his friend loses his job over the borrowed equipment, their house on the verge of being sold because of the default on payment, and not enough money for his daughter's surgery.

 His judgement began to be questioned by his wife and people in the community. People begin to think that he has mental illness he has a family history of schizophrenia. We see the struggle of a man who is battling with mental illness and there was no help available, there was not enough councilling help, no resources from the library or government, not even help from his local church. It was Samantha's unfailing love that keep getting him through each stage. One can almost compare her to the never ceasing love of God. Near the end of the film, there was a big storm that came, and the family got into the underground shelter. When the storm was finally over, Samantha encouraged Curtis to open the door back to ground himself, it is only through his own effort and acceptance of this illness that he can move on with life. With the opening of the door, we see that the world did not end, there was some damage to the house and the lawn, but nothing significant as storms and hurriances are typical for that part of Ohio. After everything was said and done, we see the family was having their vacation near at a beach house, and the visions of Curtis was actalized. The large gathering of the dark storming clouds accompanied by the five story high tsunami. One can compare "Take Shelter" to film like "Jesus of Montreal" or "Hail Mary" by Jean Luc-Godard retelling the bibical narrative with a modern day twist. In "Jesus of Montreal", we see the modern day Jesus being with the prostitutes, the single mothers, people from the lower ends of society retelling the Passion play but still being persecuted for speaking their mind. While in "Hail Mary", modern day Joseph working at a gas station making ends meet while trying to take care of his girlfriend Mary whom is having their baby. We see Mary pondering about where this baby had come from, being treated with scurrility and contempt as a single mother.

In the context of "Take Shelter", one can question if there are actual prophets around us today that have been warning the society about visions about the end of the world or words from God that has been treated as nothingness or mental illness. As in the song "The Sound of Silence", it writes "The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls ". The audience can catch a glimpse of the loneliness that the prophets feel in the Old Testament when they see the destruction and judgment coming from God at the hands of Babylon, but no one listens. With protest and riots from around the world from G20 to the Occupy Movement against the social injustice, the voice for the voiceless have been vocal and shouting with all the might one can have, but the power of the empire and media have been too powerful and often the voices are flatten or dismantled as mere discontent of the people who does not matter or the lazy hippies who have nothing better to do than sit around all day than to find a job. However, with the final coming of the storm of judgment, we are reminded that the end of days will come and it is only those who have ears to hear and eyes to see whom will be saved and able to find shelter.

This reminds me of Regina Spektor's "Laughing With" Song... we only ask where God is when there are disasters...
"No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God
When they’re starving or freezing or so very poor"

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