The movie “The Grey” and the answer to nihilism

Uploaded by on Jan 29, 2012

A review of the new Liam Neeson film, the grey, as iI say there may be some minor spoilers but nothing too drastic, enjoy and dont forget to comment, rate and subscribe

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The Grey hits theaters on January 27th, 2012.

Cast: Liam Neeson, Dallas Roberts, James Badge Dale, Dermot Mulroney, Frank Grillo, Nonso Anozie, Joe Anderson

In THE GREY, Liam Neeson leads an unruly group of oil-rig roughnecks when their plane crashes into the remote Alaskan wilderness. Battling mortal injuries and merciless weather, the survivors have only a few days to escape the icy elements — and a vicious pack of rogue wolves on the hunt — before their time runs out.

The Grey trailer courtesy Open Road Films.

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The movie “The Grey” is filled with nihilism and here is the answer in the Book of Ecclesiastes to nihilism from Solomon himself.  I follow that with an excellent riview of “The Grey” and some links to previous posts on nihilism. Also here is a link to some historical evidence showing how accurate and reliable the bible is.

Here is an article I wrote a couple of years ago:

Solomon, Woody Allen, Coldplay and Kansas

What does King Solomon, the movie director Woody Allen and the modern rock bands Coldplay and Kansas have in common? All four took on the issues surrounding death, the meaning of life and a possible afterlife, although they all came up with their own conclusions on these weighty matters.

Let me start off by pointing out what they all had in common. First, they were very successful and rose to the top of their fields. Second, they were very famous and of course, thirdly they were wealthy and experienced the privileges that fame and wealth brought. Finally, they were still seeking answers to life’s great questions even though it seemed they had experienced all the world had to offer.

Unlike many the past grammy winners of “Best Rock Album,” Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends by Coldplay is filled with songs that deal with spiritual themes such as death, the meaning of life and searching for an afterlife.

Leadsinger Chris Martin notes, “…because we’ve had some people close to us we’ve lost, but some miracles — we’ve got kids. So, life has been very extreme recently, and so both death and life pop up quite often” (MTV News interview, June 9, 2008).

Russ Briermeier of Christianity Today observes that this album is “often provocative, spiritual, and seemingly on the verge of identifying a greater truth, asking and inspiring many questions without providing the answers.” It reminded me of King Solomon’s search for answers in the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament. Solomon also dealt the subject of death a lot. Ecclesiastes 7:2-4 asserts, “It is better to spend your time at funerals than at festivals. For you are going to die, and you should think about it while there is still time. Sorrow is better than laughter, it may sadden your face, but it sharpens your understanding.”

The subject of death is prominent in the songs “Poppyfields,” “Violet Hill,” “Death and All His Friends,” “42,” and the “Cemeteries of London.” Then the song “The Escapist” states, “And in the end, We lie awake and we dream, we’re makin our escape.” In the end we all die. Therefore, I assume this song is searching for an afterlife to escape to. The song “Glass of Water” sheds some more light on where we possibly escape to: “Oh he said you could see a future inside a glass of water, with riddles and the rhymes, He asked ‘Will I see heaven in mine?’

Coldplay is clearly searching for spiritual answers but it seems they have not found them quite yet. The song “42“: “Time is so short and I’m sure, There must be something more.” Then the song “Lost“: “Every river that I tried to cross, Every door I ever tried was locked, I’m just waiting til the shine wears off, You might be a big fish in a little pond, Doesn’t mean you’ve won, Because along may come a bigger one and you will be lost.”
Solomon went to the extreme in his searching in the Book of Ecclesiastes for this “something more” that Coldplay is talking about, but he did not find any satisfaction in pleasure (2:1), education (2:3), work (2:4), wealth (2:8) or fame (2:9). All of his accomplishments would not be remembered (1:11) and who is to say that they had not already been done before by others (1:10)? This reminds me of the big fish in the little pond that Coldplay was talking about. Even if you think you are on top, are you really? Also Solomon’s upcoming death depressed him because both people and animals alike “go to the same place — they came from dust and they return to dust” (3:20).

In 1978 I heard the song “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas when it rose to #6 on the charts. That song told me thatKerry Livgren the writer of that song and a member of Kansas had come to the same conclusion that Solomon had. I remember mentioning to my friends at church that we may soon see some members of Kansas become Christians because their search for the meaning of life had obviously come up empty even though they had risen from being an unknown band to the top of the music business and had all the wealth and fame that came with that. Furthermore, like Solomon and Coldplay, they realized death comes to everyone and “there must be something more.”

Livgren wrote:

“All we do, crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see, Dust in the Wind, All we are is dust in the wind, Don’t hang on, Nothing lasts forever but the Earth and Sky, It slips away, And all your money won’t another minute buy.”

Both Kerry Livgren and Dave Hope of Kansas became Christians eventually. Kerry Livgren first tried Eastern Religions and Dave Hope had to come out of a heavy drug addiction. I was shocked and elated to see their personal testimony on The 700 Club in 1981 and that same  interview can be seen on youtube today. Livgren lives in Topeka, Kansas today where he teaches “Diggers,” a Sunday school class at Topeka Bible Church. Hope is the head of Worship, Evangelism and Outreach at Immanuel Anglican Church in Destin, Florida.

The movie maker Woody Allen has embraced the nihilistic message of the song “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas. David Segal in his article, “Things are Looking Up for the Director Woody Allen. No?” (Washington Post, July 26, 2006), wrote, “Allen is evangelically passionate about a few subjects. None more so than the chilling emptiness of life…The 70-year-old writer and director has been musing about life, sex, work, death and his generally futile search for hope…the world according to Woody is so bereft of meaning, so godless and absurd, that the only proper response is to curl up on a sofa and howl for your mommy.”

The song “Dust in the Wind” recommends, “Don’t hang on.” Allen himself says, “It’s just an awful thing and in that context you’ve got to find an answer to the question: ‘Why go on?’ ”  It is ironic that Chris Martin the leader of Coldplay regards Woody Allen as his favorite director.

Lets sum up the final conclusions of these gentlemen:  Coldplay is still searching for that “something more.” Woody Allen has concluded the search is futile. Livgren and Hope of Kansas have become Christians and are involved in fulltime ministry. Solomon’s experiment was a search for meaning to life “under the sun.” Then in last few words in the Book of Ecclesiastes he looks above the sun and brings God back into the picture: “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: Fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”

You can hear Kerry Livgren’s story from this youtube link:

(part 1 ten minutes)

(part 2 ten minutes)

This review of “The Grey” is from Christianity Today:

The Grey
A chilling adventure that builds to a compelling climax of faith vs. faithlessness.

David Roark | posted 1/27/2012 12:00AM

Midpoint in The Grey, while trying to survive a pack of wolves in Alaska’s wilderness, a group of men sit around a fire reflecting on their lives while literally staring death in face. One of them insists on the pertinence of faith and the existence of God in the midst of their suffering, while two others refute the claim and call his belief a “fairy tale,” claiming there’s no life after death. These opposing ideologies stand front and center of this chilling new adventure by writer-director Joe Carnahan (The A-Team). He puts the two ideas to the test in his grey and desolate wasteland, looking to see which prevails.

Liam Neeson stars as Ottway, an Irish hunter and one of the two men without faith. After surviving a plane crash in the freezing conditions of Alaska, he and a few members of an oil drilling team, including Diaz, an arrogant womanizer (Frank Grillo), and Talget, a passive family man (Dermot Mulroney), find themselves being hunted by a pack of wolves. Hopeless with nowhere to go, they do all they can to escape into a wooded area, which may or may not be a safe haven, but the wolves begin to take their lives, one by one.

A pack of men, about to meet a pack of something worse

A pack of men, about to meet a pack of something worse

Within these bleak circumstances, Ottway voluntarily becomes the leader because of his experience killing wolves. But even though he may be a trained hunter, he secretly faces problems of his own. In the opening sequence, we see him walk outside a bar and proceed to attempt suicide, with a rifle placed in his mouth, only to be distracted by the howl of a wolf in the distance. We learn that his inner struggles stem from his wife leaving him—and now he’s got hungry wolves circling for the kill. Much to fret about.

The film, adapted from the short story Ghost Walkers by Ian MacKenzie Jeffers, weaves Ottway’s struggles together in redemptive fashion. Forced to be the leader and give hope to the rest of the men, despite his own feelings of hopelessness, Ottway faces his internal demons because of the external, fang-baring ones. Ironically, the dire circumstances act as a catalyst for his personal redemption.

Such optimism doesn’t extend to every character or the entire situation, so The Greyis hardly a morality tale. As the title implies an underlying moral ambiguity, the film often settles into a cynical outlook void of redemption and God. In many ways, these darker aspects actually trump the small, personal thread of Ottway finally coming to terms with the absence of his wife and, even more so, with his life.

Liam Neeson as Ottway, who has some issues

Liam Neeson as Ottway, who has some issues

This nihilistic worldview and unbelief in God emerges first and foremost visually. Working with few colors, a range of grays and a fixed graininess, Carnahan gives his film dark and lifeless imagery that, in turn, creates a prevalently melancholic tone. He takes the same approach with the scenery. The cold, dreary climate, with no hope in sight and an enemy in the middle of it, further establishes it.

But the bleakest component of all is the wolves and their relentless attacks. In the course of all the blood, guts, and death, the question surfaces: Where is God and meaning in all of it? Like the wolves themselves, this rhetorical question runs rampantly throughout the story as the group becomes smaller and smaller, death after death, until a moment in which Ottway cries out to God, pleading for help. Desperate and facing death, he admits his need for a savior only to remark, “Fine, I’ll do it myself.” The scene epitomizes the moral haziness ofThe Grey, but it also leads the film into its gripping finale. Seamlessly paced with suspense and anticipation throughout—thanks in part to a vigorous score—the whole story points to this intense moment, putting Ottway face to face with the wolves and the alpha of the pack.

Diaz (Frank Grillo, right) and Ottway plan their next move

Diaz (Frank Grillo, right) and Ottway plan their next move

Neeson carries the film, bringing physical action and human emotion from start to finish. He balances out his tough, grizzly persona with a hurting, vulnerable side. His role, autobiographical in regard to the loss of wife three years ago, keeps the film grounded in humanity and, in the end, stops it from falling into cynicism, despite Ottway’s conflicted morality. In one scene, he looks at pictures of the families of men who died, thinking about his own wife. This moment of pure sentiment feels so personal, so transcendent.

Moments like these elevate the film from being just another action movie, or just another drama with lofty ideas yet no heart or soul. Even more, such moments almost provide enough clarity to keep it from being a complete moral vacuum. But as the film concludes and we seek hope, God, and life in the midst of the mess, we’re still left in The Grey.

One large marketing firm has prepared a film companion” discussion guide for faith-based audiences; the guide explores the movie’s spiritual themes.

Talk About It 
Discussion starters

  1. The film clearly pits two opposing ideologies, a belief and unbelief in God. In the end, which ideology prevails? Why?
  2. How does Ottway deal with his wife leaving him through his circumstances (the weather and wolves)? What does he ultimately learn?
  3. What does the film say about suffering? Why does God allow us to suffer, or does he? Can suffering change and mold us? How?

The Family Corner 
For parents to consider

The Grey is rated R for violence/disturbing content including bloody images, and for pervasive language. Throughout the movie, men are killed in bloody battles with wolves. Though violent and intense, these scenes move rapidly and chaotically, making them less graphic than they could be. The characters use excessive profanity, especially the f-word. But the language never proves to be exploitive or out of context.

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