Investigating the Greater Purpose of Fatherly Protection in Movies
By Tess Farrand, Staff Writer
Children often have an innocence that everything in life is going to be fine. Of course, that’s the goal, but the ideal isn’t always the real. Parents, knowing that sin runs rampant daily, must protect their children from harm’s way. Many Hollywood movies are based on this concept of protection, with fathers seeking to save their children from dangerous situations. The recent thriller movie SEARCHING (not-family friendly), like TAKEN (not-family friendly) and PRISONERS (not-family friendly) portray that in times of peril, a father’s love for his child compels him to make sacrifices and go against all odds to provide safety.
Moreover, in the touching Pixar movie FINDING NEMO, Nemo, a feisty young clownfish, gets captured by an Australian deep-sea fisherman. Throughout the movie, Marlin, Nemo’s father, and his new friend Dory, fight the stings of jellyfish, hungry sharks and many wrong turns to bring Nemo back home to his cozy sea anemone. Yet, the most compelling moment of the movie isn’t necessarily the search, it’s actually the reconciliation between Marlin and Nemo at the end. Marlin shouts, “Nemo!” and Nemo responds, “Daddy?” The exaltation of the father and son’s names communicate that these two fish have a relationship and will move forward (“Just keep swimming…”). Marlin knows and claims Nemo. Nemo knows and claims Marlin. At last, Nemo is back where he belongs.
The 90’s romantic movie, SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE, echoes this too. 8-year-old Jonah, flies all by himself from Seattle to New York City where he hopes to meet the potential wife for his father, played by Tom Hanks. Once Sam realizes Jonah is missing, he immediately hops on a plane to bring Jonah back home and make sure he’s okay. Sam finally reaches Jonah on the top of the Empire State Building and briefly scolds Jonah for being reckless, but seeing Jonah is okay, Sam can’t seem to get enough hugs with his son. The relief is so indescribable that perhaps depicting it onscreen is the best way to show it.
Recall the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15, when the prodigal returns to his father’s arms. Love and joy exude from the father. Despite the fact that the son abandoned his father and family obligations, nothing on earth could stop his heart from being happy he was home where he belonged! Like this Bible story, these movies pull at our heartstrings because they paint a bigger picture: God the Father does the same thing for us. After man fell into sin (Gen. 3), He continually gave ample opportunities for His people to be reconciled into the shelter of His arms, and He is still doing this. Our entire existence is an opportunity for us to seek Him, just as He seeks us to know Him. His fatherly touch is present in the lives of those He transformed and in the beauty of his creation so that we are without excuse (Romans 1:20).
When I was a little girl, my dad taught my sister and I a whistle call/response that we were to use if we ever got separated from him in public. He would whistle the tune, and we would yell, “here I am!” He would run in the direction of our voices, seeking to find us…. Thankfully, I never needed to use the whistle my father taught me, but perhaps that wasn’t the point. The point was of course for my sister and my safety, but it also served a greater purpose. To this day, I would know that whistle melody anywhere. His tune and his pace let me know that it is in fact, my father. Even still, reconciliation with my earthly father pales in comparison to being reconciled with God. He too, has a signal for all of us to know He wants us to come home in the shelter or His arms, and His name is Jesus Christ.
“I love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me.” – Proverbs 8:17 NASB
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