Films for Advent: hoping and waiting

Every year during the Christian season of Advent, I always watch the film Children of Men directed by Alfonso Cuarón. Advent is a season to prepare the way for God to enter radically into the world and to create room for expectation and hope for a better world full of peace, love, and joy. I think that there is no better film than Children of Men to present these Advent ideas.

Children of Men really is a modern retelling of the Nativity story. It shows the longing for peace in a war-torn world, the hope of a child being born, the joy of life’s simple moments, and the love that is shown between humans. I could go on and on about how the film parallels the world in which Jesus was born, yet I think that you should watch the film for yourself.

Even though I love Alfonso Cuarón’s brilliant film, I have been searching for more films to watch this Advent season. Naturally, I looked online and was able to find a few suggestions (mostly from another blog: I even opened up my appeal to friends on FaceBook (yet I think that Advent and Christmas are easily confused, so I was given a great list of fun Christmas movies).

I love lists and it is really the season of lists (even Santa keeps a list). This year I’m making my own list (and borrowing from others!). I am going to watch a movie for the four themes in Advent: hope, peace, love, and joy. It is a short list, but one that I think will get me thinking about Advent.

The Pianist directed by Roman Polanski
The scenes of senseless violence and murder, the scenes of complete destruction, and the scenes of horror and fear make this film difficult to watch. Yet, throughout the film the spark of hope survives. Adrien Brody plays a Jewish pianist from Poland during Word War II and the film follows his journey of survival in Nazi-occupied Poland. Throughout the film music is used as a motif to show the power of hope. Hope for survival, hope for a future, hope that the war will end. Although the film is dark and tragic, the ending leaves such a bright and hopefully outlook on life. This film showed anticipation and hope in action.

King Arthur directed by Antoine Fuqua
This film shows the longing for peace from the perspective of soldiers pressed into serving the Roman Empire by protecting Roman-controlled Britain from the heathens in the north. Think Hadrian’s wall and Celtic Britons with blue face paint led by Merlin. When a high ranking Roman Bishop decrees that the Sarmatian Knights must perform one last mission before gaining their freedom, the men come up against a people who want nothing more than for the Romans to be gone and for peace to rule the island once more. The leader of the Sarmatian Knights, Arthur, is a believer in equality and freedom for all men. He strives to serve his men as a good leader and seeks peaceful solutions when possible in order that all may be treated fairly. At the end of the film, Arthur realizes that Rome is not longer home for him. Instead, Arthur creates a new home in Britain and creates peace on the island by becoming Britain’s first King and marrying Guinevere, the daughter of Merlin. The film ends with the Britons and ex-Romans united and at peace with each other, even those who had previous been at war with each other. That ache and longing for peace is finally realized.

The Snow Walker, directed by Charles Martin Smith
I love this film. It is a powerful story of acceptance and loving others, not just loving the people who are easy or convenient to love. In this film Annabella Piugattuk plays a woman (Kanaalaq) who, despite dying from TB, helps to save the life of an egotistical, thoughtless, selfish man. The love that Kanaalaq shows to cocky Charlie Halliday (played by Barry Pepper) is challenging given the context: a bush pilot who tries to make some money on the side illegally veers off of his flight plan and nearly kills himself and the sick Kanaalaq who desperately needs treatment. Throughout the film, love (in the form of compassion, patience, and giving) is shown to Charlie, the arrogant white Canadian, and eventually changes him. Her selfless demonstrations of love shows the beauty of humanity and what could be possible if we took time to love all people, not just those who are easy to love.

Little Miss Sunshine directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
This film is a journey of joy across the country! Although the characters’ lives are crumbling or seem to be destroyed, the family gathers around its youngest member, Olive, and helps her get to the Little Miss Sunshine pageant 800 miles away. Along the way catastrophes and mishaps pile up, yet that doesn’t stop the family from continuing on to get Olive to her pageant. In the end, the family can’t help but get caught up in Olive’s joy and wonder for life and they all run up onto the stage to dance along side a beaming and blissfully innocent Olive.

The Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’). (Isaiah 7:14)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

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