love that loves us, merci!
these are the concluding words or prayer of 'to the wonder', a film by terrence malick that's out in cinemas at the moment. it's dividing audiences. the guardian and litle white lies both loved it giving rave reviews while others are giving one star.
it's a mystical exploration of love, life, god, wonder, and the meaning of existence. it's poetic, arty, and romantic. words come and go in french and english, half of which are mumbled. there's lot's of silence. lots of it is shot around twilight. if you go and see it there is really no point unless you can turn off your cynical or critcal self. for most of us that's pretty hard - i had to fight myself in the film to avoid flipping into that! in the end this paid dividends and i found it a curious, surprising film that has lingered with me ever since and is still making me think.
for most mystics the goal of life is union with god. the start point is usually that there's a restlessness and longing in all of us for that union. meanwhile as we search and look for meaning many many things distract us, and we find our own desire, love and relationships give moments of joy and wonder and delight, but they are also shot through with our own struggles and selfish desire and brokeness. we see in part but won't see fully until we are one with god. that is the theme of the film, plain and simple like hands on stained glass trying to touch the light beyond. there's a parallel story track between lovers looking for that union and finding glimpses of it that get lost on the way, and with a priest who similarly does the same. mean time the soil of the town is polluted and making people ill. the woman who is the central character is always aware of something that is beyond, that is transcendent, that is the love that loves us, in spite of how fractured her own relationships (and the very soil of the earth) become at times. it reminded me of the quote from douglas coupland in life after god
sometimes i think the people to feel saddest for are people who once knew what profoundness was but who lost or became numb to the sensation of wonder - people who closed the doors that lead us into the secret world - or who had the doors closed for them by time and neglect and decisions made in times of weakness
our culture in the uk is not really very open to this mystical view of the world. we have become numb, angry even at the notion of something beyond ourselves, that we might not be at the centre of the universe. some of the reviews show this anger - apparently the film was booed at the film festival in venice when it was shown. when we saw it five people walked out. i was amazed to find myself watching it in a big cinema. it's overtly spiritual, unasamedly presenting the viewer with their own restlessness or longing for the love that loves us. there's nowhere to hide. you can disagree with the mystical view and walk out but our existence is laced with the experience that this landscape of desire is right at the core of who we are. i certainly came out longing more for the love that loves us. i guess the photo above which i called longing at the time was me trying to say something similar to terrence malick!