I had a mind to write about Transformers today, but changed course after watching a bizarre French film on Netflix instant streaming last evening.
The movie is called Les Revenants (“They Came Back”), and is about the aftermath of an odd two hours one day when all the recently-deceased return.
It’s jarring, yes–but not in a Walking Dead-we’re-here-to-eat-your-face-off kind of way. It’s quietly creepy, terrifying more in tone. Think of it this way: let’s say a beloved family member–mother, father, sister, brother, daughter, son, grandparent–suddenly came back into your life just as you were adjusting to your loss, getting on without them. How would you feel?
Yeah, it’s both jarringly creepy, and quietly terrifying, in that way.
And yet no one seems to want to ask the questions: where did you go, how did you return? In characteristically French fashion, of greatest concern is who is going to pay, how do we reassimilate these folks into society?
One answer: put them back to work, get them doing what they did before they went away. Indeed this is one of the euphemisms spoken to a character in a design firm: “Things have changed since you went away.”
He didn’t “go away”–he died, and his coworker can’t handle the incongruity of his return–so he went away, and is now back.
I suppose more than anything this reveals the underlying worldview of the filmmakers. They have no entry in their lexicon for resurrection, no way to explain it, no belief that there is anything “beyond,” and thus no other answer than to soldier on.
More’s the pity.
I imagine the inhabitants of first century Jerusalem felt much the same. Yes, their’s was a much more innately religious culture; however, people just don’t come back from the dead. It’s not the way the world works.
Yet this is one of the signs that (according to Matthew, in chapter twenty-seven of his Gospel) accompanied the death of Christ:
“51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.
52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised,
53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.”
Just as suddenly, as incongruously, as in the French film: people had their dead back! The Bible doesn’t tell us how they reacted, but I imagine there was shock, grief, disbelief, and eventual acceptance.
And then life–eventually–went back to normal.
How often does that happen to us? We have an inexplicable encounter, and explain it away? Try to figure out the quotidian exigencies–instead of being changed?