We just had Divine Mercy Sunday, and we’re well into Pope Francis’ Jubilee Year of Mercy, which continues until Nov. 20.
So, I took a little poll of the Family Theater Productions staff and asked them to name some mainstream movies that reflect the idea of divine mercy. .Some may be what you expect, and some may not — and use your judgement whether they’re suitable for any kids in the house.
Then last up, I’ll offer a choice of my own.
A Walk on the Moon: “Diane Lane has an extramarital affair … which is not a good message. BUT her husband stays with her, and they have an awkward yet truthful rebuilding of their family at the end.” (Sarah Kalb, Office Assistant)
Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi: “The conversion of Darth Vader in Luke’s arms.” (Kalb)
Gravity and Dead Man Walking: “In both of those films, there is Mercy after the character comes to faith. In Gravity, Sandra Bullock says her first prayer and her single tear is a sort of Baptismal moment, to be culminated in her “dip” in the primordial lake at the end. At that point, she recognizes where the Mercy came from and says a quiet “Thank-you” at the very end. In Dead Man, Sean Penn’s character finds peace (Mercy) only after he confesses to Sister Prejean. Both of these may be a stretch, I know, but they are what came to mind.” (Deacon Don Burt, Post-Production/Multimedia Specialist)
Les Miserables: “Mercy, that little word, reminds us that we are self-insufficient. We need others. In the end, our salvation must come from the outside. Salvation is a gift, a gift of free mercy. I think this is one profound reason Les Misérables has endured, and why it has attracted so many adaptations and performances.
Surrounding the romance and revolution in the middle, Les Misérables is really a story of profound theological contrast, a contrast in how sinners respond to the offer of free mercy. At a profound level, this is the story of two responses to mercy: one man is broken and lives, and one man is hardened and dies.” From “The Power of Les Miserables” (movie suggested by Hollywood Pastoral Outreach Assistant Laura Zambrana)
And my choice? It’s hard to top some of the team’s picks, and I tend to be more of a TV fan than a movie buff, so the thing that leaps immediately to my mind is the third episode of season two of Netflix’s “Marvel’s Daredevil” (which is very good but decidedly NOT family-friendly).
Charlie Cox plays blind New York lawyer Matt Murdock, who uses his heightened super-senses, fighting prowess — and, in the current Season 2, a protective suit — to take on criminals in his Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood.
He’s also a Catholic, who has struggled to reconcile his violent vigilante ways — he does stop short of killing people, but only just — with his faith, but that’s turned on its head when a new vigilante, Frank Castle/The Punisher (Jon Bernthal), comes to town. He doles out merciless vengeance, killing people he considers bad without compunction.
In a confrontation in an episode called “New York’s Finest” (click here for a Season 2 trailer that’s NSFW and contains violence) Daredevil pleads with the Punisher to not kill, to leave that to God, to not snuff out people because they still might have good in them. In essence, he pleads for the Punisher to be merciful — then proceeds later in the episode to pretty brutally, but non-fatally, knock the stuffing out of a whole biker gang.
Mercy is hard, and sometimes, like Daredevil, it’s just as hard to discern when we are just telling ourselves we’re being merciful rather than really practicing it. That’s something the world knows, even if it doesn’t know or accept mercy’s divine origins.
Image: Courtesy Warner Bros.