Search This Blog

June 9, 2017

The Shack (2017) --- "Forgiveness And Love Is Stronger Than We Thought."

Plot Summary
After suffering a family tragedy, Mack Phillips spirals into a deep depression that causes him to question his innermost beliefs. Facing a crisis of faith, he receives a mysterious letter urging him to an abandoned shack in the Oregon wilderness. Despite his doubts, Mack journeys to the shack and encounters an enigmatic trio of strangers led by a woman named Papa. Through this meeting, Mack finds important truths that will transform his understanding of his tragedy and change his life forever.(1)

Subscribe to my blog via email HERE and share with your friends. 
Hello, Movie Buffs! 
     I have never read the book, so I cannot judge on whether this film is an accurate adaptation of the book. The Shack is the story is about Mackenzie ‘Mack’ Phillips (Sam Worthington - Avatar) who experiences a great tragedy in his family. Overcome with a great sadness and having anger towards the perpetrator for the crime and God for “letting it happen,” Mack searches for answers from God when one day he receives a letter asking him to go the shack were the tragedy happened. Upon arriving at the shack and overcome with grief, he experience a vision where he meets God as a family: Papa/God (Octavia SpencerHidden Figures), Jesus (Avraham Aviv AlushBeauty and the Baker), and Sarayu/Holy Spirit (Sumire Marsubara). Now whether the vision was an open vision – his eyes are open and he is awake – or a dream vision – while he is asleep – is unclear at first and does not take much precedent in this review. However, there were a few areas of concern that audiences had after watching the film.
     First, some people were confused by the fact that some of the characters referred to God as Papa; a nickname that Mack’s wife Nan (Radha MitchellMan on Fire) and youngest child, Missy (Amélie EveWhen Calls the Heart), have for God. Now personally I do not use this nickname in reference to God but I don’t find anything wrong with it. In fact, in the Bible it talks about Jesus calling God “Abba” which means father in Aramaic1.
     Secondly, the Holy Spirit being portrayed as a woman, whether this is true or not, I find it to be visually pleasing. In the film, and from what I have heard about the book, the Holy Spirit is portrayed as a gardener who is working in the garden of Mack; his spirit, soul, and body. If we are like gardens then what areas in your life is the ‘gardener’ working on? What kind of flowers are in your garden and what are the weeds that need to be removed? In  the Bible, Jesus describes the Holy Spirit (John 3:8) and Scripture uses metaphors for the Holy Spirit as being like – wind, fire, a dove, anointing oil, water, a counselor, a guide, and breath. Portraying the Spirit as a girl is more for visual representation rather than biblical accuracy. “He [Mack] had a difficult time focusing on her [Sarayu]; she seemed almost to shimmer in the light and her hair blew in all directions even though there was hardly a breeze. It was almost easier to see her out of the corner of his eye than it was to look at her directly.” (pg.84 from the book)2.
     Third, a big ‘controversy’ is the fact that God was portrayed by a woman. Most of us, especially every Christian, know that God the Father is not a woman but He can appear to you in any form. I, as well as friends and family, have experienced this first hand in dreams. God appeared to me in a dream in the form of a very close friend and He appeared to my mother in the form of our church apostle. God appears to us in a way that makes us comfortable without scaring us, I mean it’s already quite shocking to be talking to God, much less see him in his true glorified form. In The Shack this is also the case, considering that Mack could not stand a father figure for the time being with his own being abusive and drunk God appears to him as a woman; a mother. Of course, nearing the end of the film He reappears to Mack as a man (by Graham GreeneTwilight), showing that He doesn't stay in one permanent form and this time Mack needs a father. Now it’s not that mothers are comforting/soft and fathers are firm/strong, mothers and fathers can be both firm/strong and comforting/soft to their children but there is such thing as a mother’s touch or a father’s touch. In other words, while a mother and father can offer the same amount of support and love to their child, at the same time each one does so in a different way.
     True faith is based on a relationship with Him and the rest of the Holy Trinity, and The Shack does an excellent job of conveying the message of the story:
1)      To keep your eyes on God even in the tough moments (Psalms 9:9),
2)     God knows (2 Peter 2:9) and cares (1 Peter 5:6-7),
3)     Only God is the righteous judge (James 4:11-12), and
4)     Especially forgiving those who sinned against us (Matthew 6:14-15). God knows the sinner and still wants to redeem him/her (Luke 15:1-10), just as we too are/were sinners whom He wishes to save/has saved (Ephesians 4:31-32);
At first these points are hard for Mack to understand but it is necessary that everyone hears and understands them. Papa (God), Jesus, and Sarayu (the Holy Spirit) ask Mack questions, challenging the things he believes about them, about God. This mirrors what Jesus often did throughout the Gospels, so the conclusion that Mack comes to in the end are in line with the truths revealed in Scripture. The 3rd point is probably one of favorites to be explained in the movie, especially considering that Mack has been judging people his whole life. He learns that you can’t judge people, only God is the judge. You can’t look at a person, see all their faults, and judge them because you do not understand or know what they have gone through to get to where they are. That is why God is very adamant in the 4th point; God wants to forgive the sinner and redeem them, all they have to do is ask. Everyone, no matter who they are or what they have done, deserve a chance at redemption (Romans 3:23-25).

     Overall, it is understandable for some Christian movies get negative reviews, like Noah or Exodus: Gods and Kings. However, The Shack does not deserve that kind of response and the complaints about The Shack being "blasphemous" are a bit over the top. The Holy Spirit and God are being portrayed as women; the former is for camerawork and conversation purposes, while the later is quickly given reason. Also there is the fact that The Shack does not give a complete picture of God, as there is a God-fearing and awe-inspiring side to Him that is not shown in the film. This is probably because what we saw was what Mack needed at the time. The family depiction of God is good because you know exactly who He/They are and yet you feel right at home with them. Now is this a perfect adaption of the Holy Trinity, maybe not but when has there ever been a Christian movie that has accurately adapted the bible to film 100%, at least this makes a bit of sense. In the end, it doesn’t matter what other people think about this film because all that matters is what you learned from it and how it helped change your limited perception of God. For someone who is stuck wondering about God's love, forgiveness, and trustworthiness then this movie is for you.

No Mack, you misunderstand the mystery… Don’t ever think what costs my son didn’t cost me, too. Love always leaves a mark. I never left Him. I never left you. I never left Missy.

– Papa

Final Vote
Worth Seeing:  5 of 5 star
Worth Buying:  5 of 5 stars

I hope you liked this post, subscribe to my blog via email HERE, send in your comments, and watch The Shack (2017).

Movies Similar 
Courageous (2011)
Do You Believe? (2015)
God is Not Dead (2014)
God is Not Dead 2 (2016)
Heaven is for Real (2014)
Last Days in the Desert (2015)
Miracles from Heaven (2016)
Silence (2016)
Son of God (2016)
War Room (2015)
Young Messiah (2016)

Cast & Crew
Directed by Stuart Hazeldine
Writing Credits
          (Screenplay) John Fusco, Andrew Lanham, and Destin Daniel Cretton.
           (Book) William P. Young, Wayne Jacobsen, and Brad Cummings
Produced by 
          Brad Cummings            ---     producer
          Mike Drake                    ---     executive producer
          Qiuyun Long                  ---     executive producer
          Gil Netter                       ---     producer
          Lani Netter                    ---     co-producer (as Lani Armstrong Netter)
          William Steinkamp       ---     co-producer
Music by Aaron Zigman
Cinematography by Declan Quinn
Film Editing by William Steinkamp
Production Design by Joseph C. Nemec
          Sam Worthington              ---        Mack Phillips
          Octavia Spencer                 ---        Papa/ God
          Tim McGraw                        ---        Willie
          Radha Mitchell                   ---        Nan Phillips
          Megan Charpentier           ---        Kate Phillips
          Gage Munroe                      ---        Josh Phillips
          Amélie Eve                           ---        Missy Phillips
          Avraham Aviv Alush         ---        Jesus
          Sumire Matsubara            ---        Sarayu/ The Holy Ghost
          Alice Braga                          ---        Sophia
          Graham Greene                 ---        Male Papa/God
          Ryan Robbins                     ---        Emil Ducette
          Jordyn Ashley Olson         ---        Emily Ducette
          Laura MacKillop                ---        Amber Ducette
          Emily Holmes                     ---        Vicky Ducette
          Derek Hamilton                 ---        Mack's Dad
          Tanya Hubbard                  ---        Mack's Mom
          Carson Reaume                 ---        Young Mack Phillips
          David MacKay                     ---        Preacher
          Chris Britton                       ---        Church Deacon
          Lane Edwards                     ---        Officer Dalton
          Kendall Cross                     ---        Special Agent Wikowski
          Jay Brazeau                         ---        Tony

No comments:

Post a Comment