God in The Vow? Seek and Ye Shall FindFriday, February 17, 2012
The Friday before Valentine's Day, I took my lovely wife Valerie to see the new movie The Vow, starring Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum in a story of perfect love gone wrong through amnesia. We'd known the movie was based on real events, but, even if we hadn't, we would have learned as much upon the screen early in the film.
We thoroughly enjoyed the movie, even if the theater was packed with what seemed like a hundred teenage girls commenting and texting through most of it. At least they got a nice lesson in what committed love looks like. Valerie and I liked it on several levels. Not only was it a good date movie, the kind where a couple can ask each other over frozen yogurt afterwards, "What if that were us? What if I didn't remember loving you? What would you do?", but it also stuck with us in other ways. First, on a simple, concrete level, you don't see many movies where love conquers all and marriage vows are viewed as sacred anymore. That was pretty cool. But on another level, well, to explain how I felt about it on another level, allow me to skip ahead in my week a little bit...
I took Jo Piazza's questions via email:
- I am interested in what you think of God being completely excised from The Vow.
- Are you upset that Hollywood took the Christian elements out of the story?
- Do you think it remains a Christian movie?
Not having studied the real-life story of the Carpenters before seeing the film, I wasn’t aware when I viewed it that God was part of the original story and had been excised. That said, in my opinion, God is a huge part of The Vow, albeit metaphorically (which I much prefer to in-your-face, anyway). The love with which Leo pursues Paige, even after she no longer really remembers or even wants him, is the tireless love with which God pursues His people. Leo accepts Paige for who she is, meets her where she is. Loves her enough to allow her to reject him. His promises are unbreakable. These are the same phrases Christians often use to describe God to others. I’m not saying Leo is necessarily a God-figure (he’s not perfect, after all), but the same picture the Bible paints about the marriage God created between Christ and His Church is the one we see playing out between Leo and Paige in this movie.
So, I don’t think Hollywood did effectively take the Christian elements out of this movie (look at the numbers of Christians who are flocking to see it; something is resonating with them. On Crosswalk this week our review and feature about The Vow currently rank 3rd and 4th among our most popular articles). And I think the term “Christian movie” (or book, or song) is a relative one, anyway. I myself consider the Harry Potter series and Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree “Christian books” because of the themes I happily find there more than because of any intent or belief on part of the authors.
The story posted on FOXNews Thursday (you can read it here). While I agree with the Carpenters that it would have been nice to have their faith remain in the story, I just can't allow myself, for reasons stated above, to get very upset that it wasn't. To my mind, it was like God refused to be excused from the proceedings of which He had initially been part. How could He be if faith in Him informed the decisions and commitments displayed in the original tale?
Incidentally, I've also heard some concern about the movie's PG-13 rating for "sexual content, partial nudity and some language." I do understand that most people - myself included - would prefer these things be left aside, but the cautions makes it sound worse than it is. I for one can completely forgive a husband who wakes up groggy and forgets he's naked (we only see his backside) in front of his wife, who views him as essentially a stranger. I'll admit - I laughed, as did Valerie. Neither did it offend us to see the married couple, in a flashback scene, wake up next to each other in bed, covered by a sheet, their backs bare. I will grant that one scene is played for harshness to show how frustrated Paige has become with her interminable situation. With loud music blaring, at her wits' end, she lets fly with a "GD" at Leo. It does take you aback. Leo's response, however, that "we don't talk to each other like that," reminds both Paige and the viewer that love is gentle and has no place for such talk. It's effective. All that to say, don't miss out on a wonderful picture of what real marriage and what Christ's marriage to the Church look like unless what I've just described in this paragraph is completely intolerable to you. As with most great stories, the point and the purpose are so much bigger than the imperfections.
- Did Hollywood Weaken The Vow? by Jim Daly
- The Vow Explores a Love That Endures by Christa Banister
- Real-life Couple from The Vow Says it 'Would Have Been Nice' to See Christian References in Film, by Jo Piazza