Sunday Matinee #12 Blade Runner 2049
Sacrifice, trust, and doing what must be done.
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EVERYTHING AND EVERYWHERE AT ONCE!
This unique and dynamic film just won the Academy Award for Best Picture 2022 last week and it seems a perfect time to write about it and reflect on its themes - everytheme and everywhere at once! Use JustWatch to learn where to watch it. For me, we have Paramount+ Premium with Showtime, so I’ll be livestream it on Showtime.
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Quotes With Notes
Full Text: Matthew 21:1-11 (Revised Common Lectionary)
Palm Sunday (April 2, 2023)
Sign up for a free course at EnterTheBible.org to learn more.
Context: This is one of several recountings of Jesus’s triumphant entry to Jerusalem. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus has told his disciples to fetch a donkey and a colt, fulfilling prophecy, for him to ride on. He makes this entry knowing full well what is before him, even the pain of death. Still, he rides on.
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7 they brought the donkey and the colt and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna!”
Blade Runner 2049 (2017) | Alcon Entertainment, Scott Free Productions, Sony
Starring Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Robin Wright, Sylvia Hoeks, Edward James Olmos, Ana de Armas
Written by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green, story by Hampton Fancher, based on characters from the novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick | Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Context: In a future world where synthetic humanoids called “replicants” can hide among humans, there is a literal hunt for all remaining replicants and a figurative hunt for power. An agent, K (Ryan Gosling) is sent on a secret mission by his superior officer, Lt. Joshi (Robin Wright). When a powerful adversary sends his personal replicant servant, Luv (Sylvia Hoeks), to find K, Joshi hides the truth, knowing full well what is before her.
Luv: You tiny thing. In the face of “the fabulous new,” your only thought is to kill it? For fear of great change? You can't hold the tide with a broom.
Lieutenant Joshi: Except that I did.
Luv: Where is he?! You're so sure. Because he told you. Because we never lie. …I'm going to tell Mr. Wallace you tried to shoot me first. So I had to kill you.
Lieutenant Joshi: Then do what you gotta do.
There is a world of difference between watching a parade and being in one. When you watch, you often do so from a fixed vantage point, taking in experience after experience. Each exhibit, float, band, vehicle, character, and so on is observed and appreciated one at a time. You cheer, you clap, you enjoy the totality of the parade. When you’re in a parade, you are one of those exhibits for people to experience. You wave your hand and smile, play your musical instrument, toss out treats, and try to give people a bit of enjoyment in their lives. You can’t control everything about the parade, only your attitude in the experience you present. No matter how hot, no matter how long the route, the smiles on the people’s faces can make it all worth it - even if you have to imagine them because you can’t quite see them from your moving vantage point!
Perhaps Jesus has a dual attitude in his triumphant entry into Jerusalem. On one hand, he may feel the jubilee and exuberance around him as people shout “Hosanna,” or “Save us now, please!” He heard them cheer and maybe made eye contact with many of them as they welcomed him to the holy city at a holy time. I do truly hope he enjoyed this parade.
I hope he had that, because on the other hand, he likely had another attitude in mind, too. He’s in this parade to the city, to the Temple, to his death. He likely knows where his actions will lead. He likely knows the pain and sacrifice that is ahead of him. He knows he will die. He likely knows now is not the time and place to tell the people. Many have speculated for many years how he felt about that.
I wonder how he felt about how people would take it. Would they understand his sacrifice the way(s) he intends it? Will they see and will they act upon it? Will it change lives, in fact change the world? Jesus ventures into Jerusalem trusting that it will all be worth it. That enough people will understand. Enough people will see and act upon it. Enough people will have their lives changed and set forth in his name to change the world.
Ambiguity is a constant presence in Blade Runner 2049. When it’s over, you’re left with lingering questions, just like the first film 35 years earlier. Character motivations aren’t always clear to both the audience and to other characters. Agent K (Ryan Gosling) wants to trust Lt. Joshi (Robin Wright) but even their trusting relationship is tense. When they last part, they do so as uneasy allies. While Joshi won’t exactly know what K is up to, she knows enough that when a powerful replicant named Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) shows up looking for him, it can’t be a good thing. So she covers for him.
Luv isn’t having any of it. She threatens Joshi. There is a tense silence there. Joshi likely knows where her actions will lead. She likely knows the pain and sacrifice that is ahead of her. She knows she will die. She may wonder if K will ever know the sacrifice she’s making for him, the trust she’s putting in him and his mission. Will it be enough to change the world.
Later that week after what we now call “The Last Supper,” Jesus tells his betrayer Judas, “Do quickly what you must do.” In this Blade Runner 2049 scene, when Luv tells Joshi she will kill her now, Joshi replies: “Then do what you gotta do.” (Matthew 26:47-50, John 13:21-30) Final words not of resignation or regret. But words of trust, of fulfillment. I have often wondered if Jesus’s words to Judas weren’t just telling him to do get his arrest over with, but a bit of self-talk, a pep talk to come to grips with what is before him. Jesus tells himself trust God. Do what you gotta do.
What is on your mind for the big picture of the world? What does sacrifice look like to you? Who has made sacrifice in your life so you have what you need? What does it take for enough people to make the changes we need to change the world?
A Word of Encouragement
Be kind to yourself and watch out for each other. May what you seek be found, and may what is found have an abundance of love at its center. And to today’s preachers, may the sermon you crafted and the prayers you lift reveal the everlasting presence of the Holy Spirit. God’s peace and good movies to you!
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