From the Chapel: Great and not-so-great films

Posted 30 July 2020
Chaplain

Sometimes I ponder why I find Jesus such an interesting person to study and to think about in my prayers and my quiet time. I think it’s his stories. He was a great story-teller. His stories – his parables – are still relevant today. They’re worth taking the time to think about. In Matthew’s Gospel there are a few “pairs” of parables, that is, two parables which have the same underlying message. Matthew 13, verses 44–46, is a good example. In the first parable a man discovers a treasure hidden in a field and goes and sells everything he has to buy the field. In the second parable a merchant finds a pearl of great value, a beautiful pearl, and sells everything he has to buy the pearl. The parables have the same main meaning. The parable of the hidden treasure, and the parable of the pearl of great value, both invite us to value the purpose that the Gospel gives our lives. The meaning and purpose that the Gospel gives us is more valuable than anything else. It makes sense of life.

The parable of the hidden treasure is probably my favourite of these two …  maybe … I seem to change my mind every time this reading from Matthew comes around in our Anglican three-year cycle. But what’s not to like about finding treasure? More on that in a moment.

It has always intrigued me why certain songs, television shows, and certain movies become incredibly popular, and others don’t. Sometimes it’s obvious: the song just has a really catchy tune and the singer is really good, or the movie has a clever plot or ground-breaking special effects. Great acting is usually pretty important for a movie’s success. Sometimes the reason for the success is less obvious: those weird songs that become popular, those odd films that just work and you can’t quite work out why, at least not straight away. They are sometimes good, or at least enjoyable, but it’s not immediately obvious why they are.

Which brings me to a very successful and quirky film from my childhood, which the Junior School students tell me is making a comeback on Netflix … The Goonies, based on a story written by Steven Spielberg.

It is a curiously successful film. There is plenty of over-acting from the cast, which includes a very young Josh Brolin (now more famous for his portrayal of Thanos the baddie in The Avengers) and an even younger Sean Astin (who played Samwise Gangee in The Lord of the Rings). The special effects in The Goonies are okay, but not exactly ground-breaking, not even for the 1980s. The plot is fun, but again, not exactly ground-breaking. But … there is something about the film which just works.

Others may disagree, but I think it’s the humanity. It is a remarkably human film. I won’t spoil it for you, because it is actually an enjoyable film which you all should watch! But the main characters are all hunting for hidden treasure. I won’t spoil it by telling you whether they find the treasure … or will I?

No, I won’t spoil it, but what I can tell you is what they do find. It’s something which is more important than anything else. It is their love for each other: their compassion for each other. They discover what it is to be loving human beings.

Being a loving person is the real treasure. The twist in the plot, both in the film and in our real lives right now, is that if you find that treasure – God’s love expressed through the love of other human beings ­– it is worth more than anything else in the world.

The Reverend Dr Theo McCall
School Chaplain

The Goonies, 1985.