The Descendants was one of those films that captivated you or not. It wasn’t Alexander Payne’s finest film. I still think Election is an unappreciated masterpiece (If you haven’t ever seen that – and you probably haven’t – give yourself a gift a go see that). But The Descendants was really quite fantastic. The Best Picture nominee tackled a wide range of subjects normally glossed over in a big budget film. As one web site wrote, it was about “love, loss, death, betrayal, forgiveness, and reconciliation.”
Ultimately though, it was about forgiveness. George Clooney’s character had to forgive his comatose wife (that was in the trailer – not a spoiler), his kids, and especially himself. His breakdown scene got him an Oscar nomination. The film is full of rich, more fully realized characters (especially for an ensemble cast) and I think deserved all the praise heaped upon it.
As we eke ever closer to Rosh Hashanah, forgiveness should be on our mind. We often confuse forgiveness with approval. To forgive someone doesn’t mean you like, appreciate, or favor any of their actions. It means you accept them. And only with acceptance can you move on. It means they no longer control you. And only with that release can you move to something new.
Speaking about his film, Payne said, “It’s about love and forgiveness….Having to rise above the occasion, and forgive and deal with also the murderousness inside oneself, but overcome that. Forgiveness is difficult. Forgiving self for many people, at least for myself is extremely difficult.”
As one well-written article online on forgiveness put it: “Forgiving of oneself is not a sign of weakness but a sign of courage and strength. It is the ability tounderstand that the situation that they have remained attached to no longer serves its purpose, toallow themselves to become a more highly awakened individual. It is the recognition that everyonemakes mistakes – no matter how big or small – and as such learns from them….Forgiveness sets you free… it leaves the past in the past and allows you to go into a future full of opportunities that you would have otherwise missed.”
Isn’t it time for some forgiveness?
#BlogElul is the brainchild of @imabima who blogs at imabima.blogspot.com. For the 30 days of Elul, the spiritual preparation before the Jewish High Holy Days, many Jews will be reflecting on the themes of the season. My posts will all be through the lens of movies. You can see all the themes in the graphic. Follow all the other excellent postings through Twitter at #BlogElul along with related items #Elulgram and #PopCultureElul.