July 5, 2009


Films about human dignity: Here's a selection of some great films about human dignity. Help us to add more -- comments, please! (Michael Cook, 5 July 2009, MercatorNet)

Human dignity is an idea which is hard to pin down. If you try to define it, it melts away. It's best conveyed through stories. That's why we present here some nominations for great films about human dignity. These are a few which have impressed me. Surely you will have others. We'd like your comments. Hopefully we can incorporate them into future installments!

How about two by David Lynch: Elephant Man and Straight Story.

Most are familiar with the former, but not with the latter:

This is not just the true story of very determined man named Alvin Straight, it is also a truly straightforward story, an unusual thing in modern movies and a real surprise coming from David Lynch. With his own mortality staring him in the face, Alvin Straight, 73 years old, decides to go visit the once beloved brother, Lyle, from whom he has been estranged for ten years, their quarrel a product of sibling rivalry as old as the Bible and the baleful influence of liquor. What might have been a simple enough five hour car ride becomes an epic journey when he decides to travel the 300 miles from Laurens, Iowa to Mt. Zion, Wisconsin on a riding lawnmower:

I've got to go see Lyle, and I've got to make the trip on my own.

Along the way he meets a young runaway girl; a woman who plows into a deer in front of him, apparently a near daily occurrence for her; a couple who allow him to spend a few days with them after he fries a motor on a steep downhill grade; a fellow WWII vet tending bar; and finally a pastor in whose cemetery he stops overnight. Over the course of the six week sojourn he slowly reveals himself and his regrets for his part in the feud that has separated him from his brother. As he tells the pastor:

I want to sit with him and look up at the stars, like we used to, so long ago.

When finally he gets to Lyle's place, his penance done, the two do indeed sit in comfortable silence on the front porch, as the stars come up overhead. It's the kind of speechless togetherness that only people who truly love one another are capable of maintaining and enjoying.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 5, 2009 8:44 AM
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