Tales of a Midwest Lutheran on the East Coast

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Les Mis Revisted - with a disturbing twist

I have now seen Les Mis three times in the theater, and I still love (nearly) everything about this movie. But I am not writing now about all the things I love about the movie and about the musical in general. I am writing about one thing about the movie that I find disturbing. 

Every time I've seen this movie, I notices different things. This time, I noticed one unfortunate prop addition that I hand not noticed before. This prop, in my opinion, has no business in this particular scene. In fact, the addition of this prop undermines everything that this scene is about, and indeed in my humble opinion negates many of the themes of this movie/musical. The scene? the final one, of the heavenly barricade. The offensive props? GUNS.

Yes, guns. At the heavenly barricade, where all the people we have just witnessed in the last two hours tragically die, most of them from guns, they are sporting more guns. Check it out. As these poor dead souls sing: 

Do you hear the people sing?
Lost in the valley of the night
It is the music of a people who are climbing to the light-
For the wretched of the earth
There is a flame that never dies
Even the darkest nights will end and the sun will rise!

They will live again in freedom in the garden of the lord
They will walk behind the ploughshare
They will put away the sword

The chain will be broken and all men will have their reward!

Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade is there a world you long to see?
Do you hear the people sing?
Say, do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring when tomorrow comes!

It is a song of peace. It is a song of freedom from violence. It is a song of hope. They are now free from war and death and pain and suffering and violence. So why on God's green earth are they holding GUNS!?!?!?

It is true they are not shooting them at anyone. Rather, they are waving them in the air in victory. But why are they even there in the first place? If this last scene is indeed supposed to be heaven, as we are lead to believe, shouldn't heaven be a gun-free place? If it is true, what this musical is telling us, that "to love another person is to see the face of God," then guns have no place in heaven. If it is true, that at the end of our days God will wipe all our tears from our eyes and pain will be no more (Rev. 21:4) then guns have no place in heaven. If in Jesus Christ our death has been swallowed up in victory and no longer has any sting (1 Corinthians 15), then instruments of death have no place in heaven. 

It may seem like a tiny detail, but I see this one small prop undermines the beauty of the entire piece. The film makers should have known better. Had whoever was in charge of props watched their own movie, they would have learned that violence only leads to senseless death, and love is the way of life worth living. And if love is good enough for life, it should be good enough for death too. 

When we see gun violence in the news nearly every day (especially living near Trenton, where there are shootings nearly every week), showing guns in a place that might be heaven is very unsettling and upsetting, at least it is to me. 

No comments:

Post a Comment