Tag Archives: Grace

The Hedgehog

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I’d like to start this post by saying a big thank you to Jamal Jivanjee for encouraging not only me, but also all of his blog readers, to watch this film. I’d definitely suggest that, if you have not yet done so already, you check out his blog here. Jamal recently asked me to review this film on his blog, which was a wonderful experience. I have also written a review below. I’d love for you to watch this film and share your insights below.

The Hedgehog is a French film that follows the story of eleven-year-old Paloma (Garance Le Guillermic). She is no ordinary eleven year old either. She sees the world for what it truly is – a giant fish bowl. We are born here, we grow up here, and we fend for ourselves here and eventually we end up belly turned up in the same mundane fish bowl.

Although Paloma came from a rich family she refused to let that define who she was. She made the decision that she was going end her life on her twelfth birthday. Death was a choice for Paloma not an inevitability. She was not afraid of dying. She welcomed it. To Paloma, the choice to die meant defying the world system. It meant that her background, her experiences, her knowledge and her family would play no role in shaping who she would eventually become one day.

Paloma is fascinated with art and philosophy and as her final project she decides to document the world around her using her fathers camcorder. She makes obvious observations about those in her direct circle. Some so blatantly point out the hypocrisy in the adults around her that one can’t help but smile and laugh.

However, when Paloma begins to document the life of her superintendent Renee Michel (Josiane Balasko) and her growing relationship with the new neighbour Kakuro Ozu (Togo Igawa) Paloma is challenged to re-think her pessimistic outlook towards the world.

I’d highly encourage that you to watch the film before you read further. The trailer can be seen here.

*******SPOILER ALERT********

The world is a dark, treacherous system and whether we like it or not we are born into it.  Paloma draws a strong similarity between our lives and the life of a goldfish in a bowl. Both are on show for those around to see, both have the ability to become mundane and boring, and whether you’re a human or a goldfish, you face a certain death. Paloma decides that she isn’t going to live her life in a fishbowl like everyone else; instead, she is going to take her life into her own hands and end it at the ripe age of twelve.

The world system represented in this film is also a parallel of the harsh religious system we see in so many of today’s churches. We have to act a certain way, we have to do certain works, and we have to meet certain expectations in order to even be acknowledged as a fish in the fishbowl. Interestingly, the only way out of either one of these systems is death.

The beautiful connection between Paloma and Madame Renee Michel is the fact that they both see the system for what it is. They recognize the façade that is played out in front of them daily. They also see that they don’t belong in this cookie cutter world. They are seen as “outcasts” and it is this connection that acts as the foundation for a quirky unique friendship. This is seen beautifully in the scene where Madame Michel takes the dress that she borrowed back to the drycleaner – except it had a stain on it. The lady at the drycleaner yelled at her for making a stain on the expensive dress. Paloma turns to Madame Michel and says “so, you also get into trouble for making stains.” This is such a picture of how we are so far from perfect, yet the world and religious system place these high expectations over our lives that we are set up just to fail.

The fishbowl theory is illustrated beautifully in the description Paloma gives to her father regarding differences between the game of Chess and the Japanese game of Go. Chess is a game where you fight to survive through the death of your opponent. Go, on the other hand, is an elegant and organic game and the focus is on producing life rather than killing to survive. Throughout the film we see different characters playing either one of the two games. In one scene, we see Paloma and Mr Ozu playing Go (a game that produces life) and in the very next scene we see a homeless man on the street playing Chess – the game of survival. We can fight to survive, or we can fight for life, however… according to Christ if we want to save our life, we need to lose it first. Ahh the paradoxes!!

There is an interesting scene where Paloma flips a flipbook illustrating her mother’s addiction to anti-depressant pills. I saw this as a beautiful picture of what we decide to sew into our lives that’s what we will reap. The flipbook shows a pill being planted, watered and eventually a plant full of pills growing. It’s a picture that her mother was feeding her depression by constantly consuming these pills. Christ calls us to partake of him; he is the grain of wheat that fell to the ground so that we could live. He died so that we could live. I’ll speak more about this later on…

I just love Paloma’s documentary that we see of the beginning of the relationship between Madame Michel and Mr Ozu. Madame Michel sees herself as being extremely low class and she is constantly putting herself down.

“I am a widow, I am short, ugly, and plump…I live alone with my cat, a big, lazy tom…neither he nor I make any effort to take part in the social doings of our respective species. Because I am rarely friendly – though always polite – I am not liked, but am tolerated nonetheless…”

When she said the above, I thought to myself, when I was involved in a religious relationship with Christ I saw myself as below perfect, just tolerated by Christ. However, when Mr Ozu enters her life, he treats her as an equal. He invites her into his home, he takes her out to dinner, he speaks to her like a human being – he sees her for who she really is, not how she perceives herself.

I just love how when Mr Oku invites Madame Michel out to dinner she politely declines by saying something along the lines of “I am your superintendent, not your neighbour” and Mr Oku replies, with a smile on his face, “Why can’t you have both qualities at once.” We are fallen human beings, yet Christ calls us to dine with him, as equals. WOW!

Their relationship is something extremely special, he admires her for who she is, not for what she does or says. She appreciates the fact that although Mr Oku comes from a rich family, he is different, he is normal, he also does not fit into the cookie cutter mould of the system. He abundantly gives gifts to Madame Michel expecting nothing in return. What a picture of our Christ and how he pours his life into us abundantly, yet he has no expectation for us work for his love and attention, he expects nothing in return, this is a selfless love. Mr Oku never forces himself towards Madame Michel, although it is clear that he desires to take their relationship to the next level. He makes this known by saying to Michel that “we can be friends and whatever we want” he repeats this twice. Our Lord doesn’t force himself on us. He is the perfect gentleman, longing for our love, but never forcing us into a relationship.

The morning after Mr Oku said this to Madame Michel, she wakes up in a strangely good mood. She is happy, maybe there is more to life than the mundane. She goes outside to remove the trash, and the homeless man from earlier is in the street. Madame Michel walks into the road to help move him off, and we are shocked when the dry-cleaning van hits Michel resulting in her death.

At one point in the film, Paloma feeds the goldfish one of her mothers anti-depressents. Within seconds, the fish is floating belly upwards. Paloma is planning on over-dosing on her mothers pills when she ends her life on her twelfth birthday. The death of the fish is extremely symbolic as it acts a shadow of what is to come. She flushes the fish down the toilet and forgets about him.

After Madame Michel’s death Paloma finds that her goldfish actually survived the anti-depressant. Madame Michel found the fish in her toilet and kept him in a different bowl. This is a really nice picture of the fact that a common goldfish who also seemed bored by the mundane, managed to hold onto his life and survive the inevitable.

Now for the most profound and astounding line of the entire film – this line has changed the way I feel about Christ and the way I see how he feel about me forever. This line gave me an astounding revelation of the 100% pure, raw love that Christ has for us and that we should have for him.

“What matters isn’t the fact of dying or when you die. It’s what you’re doing at that precise moment. So Renee, what where you doing at the time of your death?

…………You were ready to love”

WOW! Now think about the precise moment on the bloody cross that Christ is hanging, the moment just as he passes from life into death, what was he doing? He was ready to love. He was ready to love his PERFECT bride. He died to be with her, my pathetic use of words fails me as I try to convey this type of love that I have seen.

I also saw the fact that before we can love Christ, he commands us to lose our lives, to die. I have never thought of it in this way before:

“Lord Jesus, I am ready to love you, I am ready to love you the way that you love me, unfailing, never-ending and whole-heartedly. I am ready to die, I am willing to die, to lose everything that I “think” I hold dear for the sole purpose of loving you” These are not just words any more to me, this is a profound reality. I have never felt more ready to love to Christ, more happy to lose my life so that I can love him without hindrance or distraction.”

“We love because he first loved us” – 1 John 4:19

Megan x

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The Tree of Life

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I thought I would start off by back-dating a little bit. This was the first movie that I ever watched with the purpose of seeing the Lord in it. What I found was astounding. I’ll give a bit of background about the film before I jump right in and confuse everyone. (Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXRYA1dxP_0)

This was an independent film starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain. It follows the story of a family in Waco Texas in 1956 – their loss, their struggles and most importantly the conflicting philosophies of the parents. I would strongly encourage that you see this film either before or after you read this blog. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The core and essence of this film is the conflicting nature of The Tree of Life and The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It takes us right back to the beginning of creation where mankind was created with the purpose to eat off of The Tree of Life.

Both trees are depicted in the parents of the family. The mother, with her caring, loving nature represented The Tree of Life. Whilst the stern, harsh father was a picture of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (as well as fallen mankind). The couples first son (Jack) was a picture of Adam – the first man. The second son (who passed away at a young age) was a picture of Christ – the LAST Adam.

This film shows the beginning of the world, the entrance of sin, the overcoming of sin through death and resurrection. It ends with the wedding of the bride and bridegroom.

Creation was represented beautifully through the different vast shots of the universe, the earth, water, land and animals. What follows these scenes of creation is the story of the O’Brien family. We see the birth of their first son. After the creation of the earth, the land and the animals – the father created man. As I said previously, their first son is a representation of Adam.

At this point in the film, the nature of each of the parents becomes quite apparent. The father, strict, stern, geared for success is a perfect picture of The tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The mother, on the other hand is kind, loving, forgiving and submissive. She produces life and in saying that, she is a representation of The Tree of Life at the beginning of creation. It becomes clear that Jack lives his life very much by the way his father lives his life. There are a few snippets of scenes that depict Jack as being like Adam. For instance, he was playing with his mother (in the garden). They were playing with some toy animals and Jack was naming them – just like Adam named all of the creatures of the Earth in Genesis.

At one point, we hear the mothers voice say that “the nuns taught us there were two ways through life – the way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you will follow”. Regardless of the situation, the mother was ALWAYS patient, kind, humble, submissive, loving and caring. By leading her life by example, she was teaching her children how to live by grace (not nature). The second son was never seen to be striving to live by the way his father taught. Instead, he retreated quietly and found his peace when he was with his mother.

Next we have a scene where the brothers are running and talking; Jack at one points calls out to his brother – “are you calling me a liar?!” This was a picture of Christ being tempted. Jack was trying to start a fight with his younger brother, but the younger brother chose to deny himself and “live by grace” or should I say “The Tree of Life” instead of giving in to the accusations of his older brother.

The morning when the family wakes up and realises that their father is gone, they are seen running around and celebrating. What a beautiful picture of the celebration that the Old Man (The tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil) is gone and that there is freedom with no more guilt and obligation. When their father returns from his trip he sits them down and shows the children many worldly objects. “This is from China… that is from Germany” – he is teaching and deceiving his children that they should be pursuing all of these “things.”

Towards the end of the film, there is a scene where all of the family members and the community are running on a beach. It is a picture of the Lord in that they (the family) have passed away and they are celebrating the freedom on the other side of death (all that remained was Christ). It was such a beautiful picture of His everlasting peace and love.

Finally, they pass through a house (a lovely representation of the fulfilment of the Lord’s desire to have a house). On the other side of the house was the mother with two other women. She was wearing what appeared to be a white dress and they were “fixing” her up. This was a beautiful depiction of the preparing of the bride of Christ for the glorious wedding.

I’m sure if you watch this film with the intention of seeing the Lord He will reveal even more than the small portion that I just shared.

May we choose to live by His Life – “The Tree of Life”. It exists for us to eat off of it and to live by it. This is no ordinary life, it is Divine, Uncreated Life – It’s HIS Life. But because we chose to eat off of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil we could no longer in our own strength be good enough, or righteous enough, or holy enough. He has always wanted us to eat of Him, The Tree of Life existed before the fall, and it returns to us in Revelations. He himself is the Tree. Partake of Him and let His Life be expressed wholly and fully through you.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives IN me. the life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” – Galatians 2:20

For The Tree of Life!

Megan