Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tyrannosaur: Sundance Film Review

The Tyrannosaurus is recognized as one of the greatest and fiercest of the dinosaurs leaving crater-like footprints and devastation to life in their wake. In some ways the film Tyrannosaur is true to this root: devastating, powerful and irrevocably impacting. Both characters: Joseph (Peter Mullan), and Hannah (Olivia Colman) deliver compelling and fierce depictions of disappointment and loss. When they are together they find tenderness and safety but slowly, like the tide, are pulled back into the torrent seas of their lives. In the opening scenes the viewer is struck by the powerful and tormented character of Joseph and is brought into curiosity as he finds himself drunk and terrified in Hannah’s consignment shop. She is befuddled and asks if she could pray for him, and prays for his tormented soul expressing through prayer her desire for Joseph to have a deep and healing relationship with God. As their lives lean together, their stories unfold and the depth of their pain and suffering is stunning.
What was most powerful to me about this film is the subtle, defining commentary it made about rage. Rage is an emotion closely linked to anger. Anger is a feeling resulting from disappointment and hurt. If anger is devalued, hidden or repressed the result can often lead to rage—an extreme form of anger. Anger is a real and right emotion that helps make what is wrong, right. Rage is often the actions that accompany anger unmet, anger unleashed. In a society where “justice” is never satisfied and individual endeavors are glorified rage is a profound reality that leaves most running for the hills (emotionally, socially and intellectually).
As a Fuller student pursuing a vocation in hospital chaplaincy I have had to examine my own troubled soul filled with anger and indignation. I often ask patients and friends “how do you cope.” If I am lucky their reply will be prayer, friendship, hobbies or hope but those answers are never simple. I recommend the film Tyrannosaur for the pastor and church leader who is willing and able to step into the darkness and stand beside and practice healing through anger. To do this is difficult and never a short journey. Most often the wrongs that have been done can never be made right.
In my own life the journey to embrace anger has been difficult. I was, and still am, ashamed of anger. I too easily fall into the habit of justifying another person’s behavior by explaining them as “good intentions,” as if “good intentions” make any wrong, right. Without confronting, naming and knowing my anger I have been guilty of reacting and overreacting out of anger and fear, not love and mercy. We may have the best intentions, and I believe God can work in spite of my weaknesses, but God has called me to love my neighbor. My journey to healing has been a process through confrontation, embrace, conversations and a lot of prayer. I am grateful now that I can acknowledge and own my feelings of anger in order to explore their roots in injustice, dignity, fear and acceptance. These roots are the pieces that help us make healthy and gracious steps forward in our relationships, work and witness.
The film Tyrannosaur does not explicitly spell out an anecdote to cure rage and anger. Tyrannosaur explores the hope and devastation a person ravaged with anger lives with on a day-to-day basis. Hannah turns to alcohol and Joseph resorts to reckless violence to express their anger. They find respite in each other, a calm amid the storm, and for a moment experience peace and grace. This is shattered when Joseph’s image of Hannah, the religious one who is closer to God, is finally seen as a human just like himself. The question I am still chewing on is in my identification with both characters and in God’s ability to accept and handle anger.

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