Saturday, August 27, 2011

It’s not what you were – Cowboys & Aliens

All of the principal characters in this film are struggling with identity, coming from one life with clearly defined role, and stumbling into the unknown.
The most obvious of these characters is Jake, who is struggling to find his lost memory, and finding at first that he was a really bad character, but someone who wanted to reform – but needed some dramatic moment to jolt him out of his old life into a new way of thinking.
The minister points out that he has seen good men do bad, and bad men do good, but it’s up to each person to decide which he is going to end up doing.
With faith as a central theme in this film, the minister points out that a man must make himself worthy of the lord, to recognize salvation and to embrace it.
Although Jake is the principle sinner that these lessons seem to touch upon – a man who needs to set things right after a life time of misdeeds, all of the characters are suffering similar need of faith.
The doctor comes to believe that he is responsible for his wife’s abduction because he chose to follow his dream by coming to the small mining down.
The military man is living in a past drenched with blood and betrayal, a survivor of the Civil War, who needs a new approach to the world. The woman/angel/alien needs to make the future better by making sure the evil aliens/demons do not get back with word about this planet.
The military man’s son is a spoiled brat who also needs a jolt to become a new man.
Even the boy – the grandson of the sheriff – is searching for identity.
This is why the minister’s dying words are so important, when he tells the doctor, it’s not what you were, but what you are – or perhaps what you will become.
All people are capable of change, and those who recognize it and embrace it, can be reborn into someone better – as each of the main character in this film have.
The more positive military man in the last scene tells Jake “We could use a good man,” in hoping to convince Jake to stay, ironically, Jake says – just before he rides off – “Yes, you can.”
While Jake has reformed, he must leave, perhaps part of the penance he must pay for his previous life, and there is this lingering question as to whether he will or not find salvation in the future.

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