1999’s Fight Club spoke to an entire generation of post-modern youth. It is a search for meaning. The film follows the life of Jack, an upward, mobile executive, who wanders through a variety of twelve-step programs, until he meets Tyler Durden, a mysterious stranger. Both embark into a world of underground fight clubs where members enter into brutal and nonstop violence. Fight Club’s rallying call is “I Bleed. Therefore, I am.” This film speaks volumes about youth’s hidden pain. They want to feel something, even if it hurts. Jack cries out “Our fathers were our models for God. If our fathers fail, what does that tell you about God? In all probability, he hates you. We’re God’s unwanted children. So be it.” Fight Club is a call for help. It is a desperate appeal for love and God’s intervention. I doubt that many people could look past the violence and bad language to see the true meaning of this film.
Smoke Signals from 1998 and Magnolia from 1999 are redemptive stories about forgiveness. Smoke Signals’ main character, Victor, must deal with his pain and inability to forgive his father, who abandoned the family when Victor was a child. The film poses thought-provoking questions. “How do we forgive our fathers? Do we forgive our fathers in our age or theirs? Saying it to them or not saying it?” What would appear on the surface to be a simple movie about two characters on a road trip, in reality, is a movie that offers us a perspective into our relationships with our fathers. Magnolia is a three-hour film into the very heart of the human condition. I can’t think of one emotion that is not expressed somewhere in the film.
In Magnolia we can all see ourselves in the characters portrayed. The film presents nine different story lines which ultimately merge into one story. What drives the heart of this film is the idea that there is nothing you have done or not done that cannot be forgiven, no matter what your past is or what acts you have committed that you believe are beyond redemption. It’s a powerful statement that embraces the idea that in order for human beings to find peace, they must seek forgiveness.
American Beauty is a film that most Christians found extremely offensive. Lester Burnham is a middle-aged man who has lost the ability to feel anything in life. His existence is defined by the mundane aspects of everyday life until he has an encounter with his teenager daughter’s best friend. Although he never acts on his impulse, he does lust after her. The film offers a hard look at life in America’s suburbia. The story is really about our own self-made imprisonment in cages that we build ourselves. What our character discovers about life is that the mundane things are really the things that we should be most grateful for but are often the things we overlook. It’s the daily experiences of life that define who we are. Beauty therefore can be found in just the process of living. Needless to say, audiences identified with Lester’s character and in his pursuit to find the beauty of life. The movie is a search for purpose and meaning. American Beauty uses the catalyst of an improper relationship, which finally wakes Lester up to realize that fulfillment cannot be found in the lust for flesh . It can only be found in the pursuit of living life.