The Road is a film based on Cormac McCarthy's 2006 Pulitzer award winning novel of the same name.
Watching the movie brings to light familiar feelings that are common to any believer who have dared to passionately ask the deepest answers to life's meaning in light of living a life of faith in a God who has revealed Himself in love through the person and work of the crucified and resurrected Christ.
Life at the End of the World
Peering into the end of the world takes you to a place that is very much like home. It takes you to places close to heart –it reintroduces you to familiar emotions of fear, uncertainty and longing.
Furthermore, at the end of the world there is nothing but the vague indecisiveness of the road –serving as a treacherous conduit into man’s journey into the unknown that lies beyond the end.
I find it hard to imagine myself doing the opposite if I were in the same shoes. Love is a powerful emotion, that’s why I could identify with the Father, (Viggo Mortensen) who behaves albeit inhumanely towards others in the midst of a dying planet plagued with extreme natural disasters, departed civilization, savage cannibals and memories of ‘good old days' in order to preserve the life of his Son, (Kodi Smit-McPhee).
Love and longing at the End of the World
The Father and Son, in their struggle to survive years after an unspecified, devastating cataclysm that has destroyed civilization are traveling toward the south, in the hopes that it will be warmer. Along the way, they search for shelter, food and fuel, and avoid bands of cannibals while trying to maintain their own sense of morality and humanity. The Father carries a revolver that only has two bullets kept in handy in case they need to commit suicide.
Along the way the Father and his Son end up in a tumultuous trek into liminality where normal limits to thought, self-understanding, and behavior are questioned- thus leading them a to new interpretation of reality, where the reality of death is no longer shocking; and cannibalism is part of the status quo.
Events such as shooting a member of a cannibal gang and entering a large house, inhabited by cannibals who are keeping live victims in the basement and the continued encounter with fellow travelers on the road highlights the Father’s loss of humanity in the face of his naive Son who was born into the world at the time when the cataclysm has already started.
Among other things the Father and Son’s experiences in their journey all but highlights what in my Christian understanding as the tragic plight of the human condition –godforsaken, helpless and adrift in a world of perplexities, where stability cannot be found anywhere even in the midst of plenty that is represented in the film as a house with an underground shelter full of canned food, that the Father and Son feasted on.
Life on the road proves to be a lonesome and depressing one as they encounter an old, dying man, whom the Son encourages the initially reluctant Father to feed and converse with. Upon arriving at the coast, they are robbed by a thief, whom they subsequently catch; the Father forces the thief to strip and leaves him naked by the road, to the distress of the Son who begs him to forgive the thief. Passing through a ruined town, the Father is shot with an arrow by a scared couple, and he kills his attacker with a flare gun. All the while the Boy showing an innate need for love and companionship beyond that of the survival motivated love of the Father.
Life at the end of the road
As they reach the coast the Father’s health ultimately deteriorates and he realizes the nearness of his death. On his death bed he again emphasizes to his Son the values of self-preservation and humanity. After the Father’s death, the Son is approached by another family - a father, mother, two children and a dog - who, are revealed, to have been following them for some time out of concern for the boy. The boy eventually agrees to join them and seems to have finally found "good people" which holds out some hope for humanity. Not to mention that one of the children is a girl, implying the possibility of a future for the human race, despite the grim conditions.
At the end of the road the Son is finally free –free to become human in the presence of a "perfect" human community: a complete family where there is a father and a mother to tend for the daughter and son, with love that even transcends to that of a dog, a startling contrast to the heartless and inhumane reality at the end of the world.
A hope that we all share in Christ even as we now live life in the tension of the present between that of the already and the not yet.
The end of the road is a new beginning with a new found community of love, this is our hope even as we eagerly await for our existence is to be placed in a new context that is transposed into a new key, and we are set free by the Spirit to participate in the unceasing harmony of God’s life--a future where all created things find their meaning and their place. In the end, all creatures are brought together in this surprising and joyful dramatic unity, this story of the God who raised Jesus from the dead, this story of the God who is love, the God who will ultimately be all in all!