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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Suicide, the church, a movie

I was sorry to read that the actor Robin Williams has died - Robin Williams Died In an Apparent Suicide by Hanging (suicide is among the top 10 leading causes of death in the US).

One of William's movies that I found especially interesting dealt with suicide and what happens to people who commit it after death = What Dreams May Come. The 1998 fantasy also starred Cuba Gooding, Jr., Annabella Sciorra and Max von Sydow, and was based on the 1978 novel of the same name by Richard Matheson, and was directed by Vincent Ward.

The plot: Doctor Chris Nielsen (Williams) is happily married to artist Annie Collins (Sciorra) and all is well until their two children are killed in a car accident, whereupon Annie becomes very depressed. When Chris is then later killed in a car accident too, she snaps and kills herself. The rest of the film is about Chris's experiences in heaven and his quest to save his wife from hell, where as we all know (not!), suicides end up.

I hate that early Catholic idea that suicide is murder, that it's a sin from which one cannot repent, that one's life belongs to God and we're just leasing - blame Augustine/Aquinas :( Even now the catechism states ... 2281 Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.

The movie won an award for visual effects and it was pretty amazing looking. Here Siskel & Ebert comment on the film, which they both really liked ...

Here's a bit of Roger Ebert's print review in which he gave the movie 3.5 stars ...

[...] The story, inspired by a novel by Richard Matheson, is founded on the assumption that heaven exists in a state of flux, that its inhabitants assume identities that please themselves, or us; that having been bound within one identity during life, we are set free. Heaven, in one sense, means becoming who you want to be.

And hell? "Hell is for those who don't know they're dead," says Albert. Or they know they're dead but don't know what the deal is. Or they won't go along with the deal. Many of those in hell are guilty of the greatest sin against God, which is despair: They believe they are beyond hope.

After the death of her children and husband, Annie has despaired, killed herself and gone to hell. Chris wants to find her: "I'm her soul mate." Albert says that's not possible: "Nothing will make her recognize you." But he acts as a guide, and Chris ventures into hell, which, like heaven, has been realized with a visual intensity and originality that is astonishing. In this film, the road to hell is paved, not with good intentions, but with the faces of the damned, bitter and complaining (the face and voice of Chris's father are played by the German director Werner Herzog).

What happens then, what happens throughout the film, is like nothing you have seen before ...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Crystal,
Thank you for this thoughtful post.

8:23 AM  
Blogger crystal said...


8:26 AM  
Anonymous Richard said...

Impossible to know what another person experiences. So many walk that line. Just wish he could have pulled out of it:(

12:55 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Yes, very sad.

1:34 PM  
Blogger Dina said...

That movie was shockingly awesome.

6:41 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Dina. Yeah, the special effects were great!

10:47 AM  

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