The following post is from a friend of mine, Will. Enjoy.
Since the first ancient civilization passed down campfire tales and relayed their history through the oral tradition, stories have been a part of every culture.
One of the most basic storylines in any medium, whether it be spoken, written or displayed onscreen is the story of redemption. The idea of wrongs being righted or a person of low character fighting back against their own personal darkness, it’s all very compelling.
In the realm of cinema, this story has been found through the aging gunslinger, the dirty cop, the father who never makes time for his children and so on. From when we first set our eyes on this main character, we know that he/she is broken even if they don’t figure it out until the end of the film.
A recent example of this is in Denzel Washington’s latest film, “Flight.” Washington plays an alcoholic pilot who miraculously lands a plane after the aircraft malfunctions. In the first scene of the film, the audience sees the character using drugs, sleeping with a co-worker and downing a beer or two mere hours before he is set to fly a plane carrying nearly 200 people.
Though the film mainly deals with alcohol abuse, there is a myriad of problems this man deals with. As investigations into the crash seem to close in on his drinking habits, the character is told time and time again by his union representative and his lawyer to stay sober until after the hearing. Not to face his demons, but to simply stifle them until the coast is clear.
Not to spoil too much of the movie, but Washington eventually has to confront his alcoholism. He pays dearly for taking the high road but this is what is necessary for redemption to occur. The film easily could have had the man denounce alcohol for a couple of months and then return to what made his day worthwhile. After all, we live in a day and age when personal satisfaction is often the test for what is right or wrong. However, redemption is about sacrifice. There has to be a payment made. In this film and countless others, that means the protagonist must admit his mistakes and begin a new path. That second part is especially important because if we do not turn around and head in the opposite direction we’ve been traveling, then we are only delaying the same mistakes being made.
Redemption is a powerful story that resonates with people because we are all in one way or another broken. Some people have bigger cracks showing than others, but our fragility is made perfect when we encounter redemption.
Will enjoys the telling of stories on the silver screen. Read his movie reviews at his blog.