Interview with a Vampire – what is immortality?

The current vampire craze rekindled an interest for me to re-watch Interview with a Vampire, in which many of its concepts and ideas appears to me to be the predecessor for today’s popular Twilight saga and Vampire Diaries.  Such themes include, exploring the psyche of vampires, a vampire’s ironic apprehension towards taking life, the “vegetarian” vampire, and giving the vampire the humane quality of love .  I didn’t remember much of this film since the first time I watched it.  Some of the scenes were more disturbing than I remembered.  Following Brad Pitt’s character, Louis, however, was gripping and fascinating.

Louis willingly entered into the dark life of a vampire, hoping to escape the hell of suffering the pain of being widowed but found himself in another hell as he became a monster.  He played the tragic vampire with a conscience.  He was a monster, a predator by nature, who still valued human life and felt regret for taking life in order to survive, which was an ironic twist, seeing that he was formerly suicidal as a human when he drowned in his grief.  Through an intriguing development of his character, the film portrayed his quest to find meaning for his immortally monstrous existence.  He sought out a sage to teach him about the purpose of his nature.  Who was the “creator” of all vampires, he asked; perhaps discovering the origins of his kind might offer some meaning.  But to no avail, his quest left him with no answers other than what LeStat (Tom Cruise) kept reiterating to him: he just was and there was no why.  His own quest surfaced the interesting question of immortality.  What is immortality?  Is it simply to live forever?  Is it simply to escape death?  Or does immortality have to mean a quality of existence, a certain state of being?  The escape of death is no solution if a life defined by goodness, purity, love, righteousness, beauty and godliness cannot be attained.  As it was for Louis, escaping death to embrace a life without such qualities is simply trading in for another kind of death, which perhaps is even worse than the former.  In the search for eternity, we may be led to redefine the meaning of living.  Interestingly, the one responsible for the kind of lives LeStat and Louis had were their makers.  Unfortunately for LeStat and Louis, their makers were vampires, creatures of darkness who preyed on others.  Even the oldest of vampires, Armand (Antonio Banderas), offered Louis no insightful meaning to their existence.  Hence, the only solutions offered to them were meaningless themes of evil.   In the question of what is the meaning of any being’s existence, we may find a foundational clue from our Creator.  The God of all things and beings may offer a ready answer to the meaning of eternity.  Like Louis, perhaps we’re all on a quest to discovering the meaning of immortality, a quest that directs us back to our Creator for answers.  Only for us, our Creator is a maker of goodness, righteousness, beauty, and truth.

A comment of caution – while this piece based on the Anne Rice’s novel is a classic and an intrigue and superbly raises human issues that many people would ask, it is rated R for violence and nudity.

Terminator Salvation – “Take mine.”

It was fascinating to see the character of Marcus attempting to find redemption throughout the film. In the beginning, he wasn’t looking for salvation or redemption, only to pay his debt for his murders by dying. In an ironic twist, he was “resurrected,” built as a machine-hybrid, a terminator, to deceive and destroy others. John Connor commented, “The Devil’s hands have been busy,” alluding to Marcus being a product of evil. But in the end as John Connor, the supposed savior of humankind, was dying from a battle-wound that left him with a failing heart, Marcus stepped forward, saying, “Take mine,” and offered one of the few human organs he had left – his heart. “Everyone deserves a second chance,” he said, “This is mine.” Marcus’ first death out of guilt for the lives he took was a debt to be paid. Marcus’ second death was a sacrifice to save the life of another that would benefit humanity from which he found redemption.  It was his sacrifice that was his “second chance.”

None of us are perfect. None of us our guilt-free. And perhaps all of us in the end either pay the debt we owe and hope that’s enough or adhere to the yearning for redemption and salvation. The theme of redemption is prevalent in films, from science-fiction to romantic comedies. It would seem that at the core of our beings we long for a level of redemption, whether socially, personally and especially eternally.  The only question remains, how will we find our redemption? In films and stories, the recurring solution seems to be sacrifice.  Perhaps our films reveal we understand something at the base of our humanity — sacrifice is the redemption for humanity, an act that is the core of the gospel of Christ.

“We all owe a death to God”

The recurring theme of the film The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 is from John Travolta’s repeated line, “We all owe a death to God.”  Surprisingly, undergirding this theme is the possibility of Denzel Washington’s character of finding redemption for a crime he allegedly committed.  There is perhaps no greater reality than that of death.  It is a looming fate which all people, young and old, know of, but few know how to deal with.  How we deal with death may influence how we live  life.  A destiny of corruption and deterioration casts a shadow on the meaning of life and an evaluation of the sort of persons we are.  Perhaps in a universal sense, we all search for redemption because we know we’re imperfect, corruptible and indebted people.  “Do you pay your debts,” Travolta’s character asked Washington’s.  Death is the debt to be paid, a fundamental reality we grasped in light of eternity.  But eternity escapes us.  And perhaps the gospel makes sense in this way – it speaks to the core human understanding of our plight.  It speaks of redemption and an altering of destiny.  And in the end, it simply comes down to a question of, do we pay our own debts or do we accept someone else’s offer to pay it for us?