Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Grand Canyon & Sullivan's Travels

The seminary library where I go to school and where I work recently took out of circulation all of their VHS tapes. Working at just the right time, I was able to take some home with me before the rest were taken off to 1/2 price books. One of the ones I took was the movie The Grand Canyon. No this was not a movie on National Parks in Arizona. This was a movie with Kevin Kline and Steve Martin. Created in 1991 under the direction of Lawrence Kasdan (Big Chill fame), the movie takes the premise of how the precariousness of life takes shape into what could be considered life's destiny. It mixes the bad and the good. No exact rhyme or reason, but still how our lives interweave with one another. The movie ends with the actual Grand Canyon, the unspeakable majesty that through eons of years of creation of this awe-inspiring beauty, God provides an example of God's own wondrous nature. And, just looking at the Grand Canyon can give us new perspective and a feeling that something is greater than ourselves. Life indeed rich in meaning. This movie carries a similar premise.

I found this old review from the Times. It says this: "Mack (Kevin Kline), the central character in Lawrence Kasdan's "Grand Canyon," hauntingly describes the experience of almost being hit by a bus. He was standing on a street corner, he recalls, and was about to step off the curb without looking when a stranger pulled him back. When he thanked her, she smiled and said, "My pleasure," then disappeared. She saved Mack's life, although he never returned the favor.

The spirit of that anecdote, with its grasp of life's precariousness, its awareness of the ominous and the miraculous in everyday events, its understanding of the intricate exchanges and equations that make up our destiny, seems to be what "Grand Canyon" is after. As he did so successfully in "The Big Chill," Mr. Kasdan here uses a deceptive casualness in approaching his contemporaries' most intimate hopes and fears."

The movie also links another famous movie, created when the black and white movie was the norm and Veronica Lake was just starting out. The movie is Sullivan's Travels. It is one of my favorite movies. And often, I think it's a great one for anyone idealist in nature who wants to solve all of life's problems, to watch. Sullivan's Travels is referenced at the end of Grand Canyon. The character Davis (Steve Martin), who is a movie producer and best friend to lead protagonist Mack (Kevin Kline), says to his friend Mack, "All of life's riddles are solved in the movies."... "Sullivan's Travels is about a filmmaker like me and loses his way-he forgets what he was set on this earth to do. Fortunately, he finds his way back. That can happen. Check it out."

And so I say to all of you, check these movies out. Sullivan's Travels also, especially for it's time, carries one of the most profound statements of African-American soul and love for the truth in God's kingdom.

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