Leonardo, Martin, Christopher, and Me


There are few occasions where I can say that Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, and I share something in common. In this, we do: each of us needs story to address a sense of our guilt.

Nothing demonstrates this more powerfully than two recent movies: Scorsese’s Shutter Island and Nolan’s Inception. Both movies star DiCaprio as a man wrestling with a deep sense of his guilt. (Is it coincidence that in both, that guilt has some relationship to the death of his wife? I’d like readers to weigh in on that.)

In wildly different ways, DiCaprio in each movie retreats inwardly and
spins an elaborate fictional reality which enables him somehow to deal with the guilt of his actions. Both movies show guilt as an actual reality with powerful motivating force in the human psyche. It is something that must be dealt with, and it is dealt with, it seems, by story, by creating a reality in which the guilt is atoned for or passed off upon another. Guilt cannot reside within us without being addressed.

Remarkable to me is that these master story tellers – and these films are technically masterful – both intuitively see and accept what every preacher of the Gospel preaches each Sunday: that guilt is real and must be assuaged. It will have an effect on us. We will face it one way or another.

And, like Scorsese and Nolan, the Christian preacher tells a story by which the guilt of his listeners can be addressed. His story points to a Man come from God who took guilt upon Himself. It is a story the preacher calls upon his listeners to embrace.

The movies should challenge us to face the importance of dealing with the guilt but should also cause us to ask this question: Does the Christian story have any greater validity than the fictions created by Mr. Scorsese or Mr. Nolan, or by any number of others? Is the Christian story simply another elaborate fiction generated deep within the human mind by which sin is addressed? Is that all it is?

This, I think, is the question forced on us and left unanswered by these intriguing movies.

I have come to my own answer on that question. What is yours?


One thought on “Leonardo, Martin, Christopher, and Me

  1. The difference between the two is simple, I think. The first stories (Inception, Shutter Island) bring up the very valid point that guilt must be dealt with.

    Christianity, instead of having us simply “pass off” the guilt or create another world where guilt goes or any of the really cool stuff that DiCaprio does in the movies, shows us exactly who we can give our guilt too and that we receive Grace and Love in return regardless of what the guilt is for.

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