Monday, February 28, 2005I just saw Million Dollar Baby, one night after it won an Academy Award. I thought that perhaps I should digest the movie and talk about it later, but I do not believe that is possible. Too much has already been about the film, but I shall add my piece nonetheless. To begin, let me say that this is a masterfully crafted movie, well-made in every aspect. I was unable to see any of the other films nominated for Best Picture, but this was a fine film.
Yet art does not let us go so easily; we are forced to ponder questions and perhaps develop a few of our own. This is a troubling movie on many levels. It is existentionalist at its best; purely nihilistic at its worst. God is indeed dead in this film. I do not know whether Nietzsche would be proud of the film, but surely he would concede its implications. It is no coincidence that Clint Eastwood's character reads Yeats throughout the film. Yeats admired Nietzsche and again, I cannot say that Yeats would agree with every decision made in the film. Surely, however, Yeats would admire the sheer will of Frankie and Maggie. They both exemplify Der Ubermensch as Nietzsche saw him. Hemingway would be proud, and perhaps D.H. Lawrence, as his notion of the will to power ran rampant thoughout the film.
As a Christian it was most difficult to view this movie. Of course it is well made in all areas, but it is a film about a world where God is silent, if He even exists at all. The characters in this film are hopeless, striving only to achieve satisfaction in self. One watches the film and wants desperately at times to tell Frankie and Maggie and Scrap that there is hope.
I shall write more on this later. This is a deep, deep film and no amount of knee-jerk reaction should distract us from the philosophical implications that lie within. Thus far, Mike Potemra and Thomas Hibbs, both writing at National Review, have the best analysis. They do not fall into the trap of arguing politics or excusing sin and despair. They do a fine job of examining the film; its merits and its flaws. I have yet to read much else from conservatives or Christians that offered such a critical analysis. Potemra is right; this not a movie about what sin has done to humanity. See Kill Bill for a gruesome lesson on that topic. No, this movie comes to the tragic conclusion that our fleeting moments of glory are all we have. Once they are gone, so are we.
How sad and terrible! I'll talk more about this film later. Despite its controversy, there is much here to discuss. We should not abandon the public square, least of all not in these times. Even when it makes us uncomfortable and challenges us, as this movie does, to passionately defend Truth in all spheres.