HE NEVER TURNED!?? A QUICK AFTERTHOUGHT AFTER WATCHING “THE GREY”

I don’t particularly consider the movie great or anything, but it certainly held my attention for the two hours or so that it was on for. It’s about a group of oil-rig workers whose plane crashes somewhere in Alaska and the survivors are forced to stave off a pack of vicious wolves that seems to be stalking them through-out the wilderness. Obviously there has to be some more “human-drama” to the whole thing, so we start finding out about each of the survivors’ personal lives, vices, beliefs, attitudes, etc. Anyway, near the ending there seems to be some conversations among the last three survivors (because already the other two or three have been devoured by the wolves) about religious and existentialist beliefs, which each man seems to hold respectively. Now I’m near the very end, and the last survivor has just emerged out of a freezing river whose violent current was carrying both of them down-stream. At one point one guy’s foot gets stuck in a rock and he is submerged under water. When the other guy reaches him he props himself on a tree branch and tries pulling him out of the water, even trying to breathe air directly into his mouth underneath the water so that he can hold on, but the drowning guy is in so much pain that he continues to scream until he runs out of air and dies. Now our only survivor is yelling, “Jesus, please help him!” among other supplications, but obviously to no avail. The guy who died was the believer, and the guy helping was the atheist. Now the atheist is resting on the freezing, snow-covered shore, battered from the rocks and the entire treacherous trip. He sits sighing for a few seconds and then begins exclaiming the following as he looks up into the sky (the sounds of the flowing river and the Alaskan ambiance surrounding him):

“Do something…Do something…You phony, prick, fraudulent, motherfucker. DO SOMETHING! COME ON! PROVE IT! FUCK FAITH! EARN IT! SHOW ME SOMETHING REAL! I NEED IT NOW, NOT LATER! NOW! SHOW ME, AND I’LL BELIEVE IN YOU UNTIL THE DAY I DIE! I SWEAR! I’M CALLING ON YOU! I’M CALLING ON YOU!”

He continues staring into the dead-calm, grayish sky. Nothing happens but the continuous flow of the river in front of him. He looks defeated, torn, battered by disbelief and disappointment and loneliness more than by the arduous physical turmoil he’s undergone. He props himself back on a bank of snow, blinks a few times, and says:

“Fuck it…I’ll do it myself. I’ll do it myself…”

He then gets up and begins walking.

The movie ends not far from there, after he unknowingly walks into the wolves’ den. He sits there for a while burying the wallets of the other dead and reminiscing and doing all that comes with the end of dramatic moments. Soon after, the wolves appear and he arms himself both emotionally and physically with memories and knives.

Interpret it as you will, that is the point of movies. But I liked the frustrated pleading and the lack of response – it is very real. And then – and I believe this was the point of the entire drama – he comes to grips with the reality that it’s himself who has to help himself; he himself who is responsible for the good or bad that will befall him. And instead of accepting that “faith” will save him, he refuses to believe in “His” existence and simply goes on to make his own fate. After thinking about it a little more, it’s not quite a departure from what Hollywood tries to throw down our gullets, as I originally wrote…I guess it was just an inspirational scene….ja!

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