Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Bridge (Most) -- Life and death decisions

Director: Bobby Garabedian, 2003.

I don't watch many short films This is partly because I have plenty of full-length features on my shelf waiting to be viewed. Partly, too, because it is hard in 30 minutes to build empathetic characters, navigate a narrative, and reach a satisfying conclusion. Yet, a friend bought this DVD and gave it to me saying it impacted him deeply. That was recommendation enough for me.

The movie opens with a man walking slowly between a set of railroad tracks pondering life. "Maybe I'll discover something. Discover something new." The movie is about his discovery of the fragility of life and relationships, and the need to experience the love that is present. It is about life that comes from death.

The story is simple yet profound. It focuses on a single father (Vladimir Javorsky) who is forced to choose between love and duty. Writer-director Garabedian weaves several other characters into the plot, surprisingly in so short a film. And he takes his time to get to the pivotal scene. But when he does it is powerful indeed.

This story has been around in different versions for sometime. Yet, this is a powerful visual rendering. It could have been cliched and sentimental, but it avoided this easy route. Instead it draws us in with strong and moving story-telling. Indeed, it won the Crystal Heart award at the Heartland Film Festival, a festival that focuses on inspirational films that portray the positive aspects of life.

Javorsky does a fine job in a role where he must communicate so much feeling with so little dialogue. It's all in his expressions. And Ladislav Ondrej gives a good performance as his son, Lada. When Lada accompanies his father to see him at work, controlling the railroad drawbridge over the river, the scene is set for the decision the father has to make.

Czech writer-director Garabedian has made this film as a parable. The bridge is both a bridge to life and a bridge to death. Jesus often taught with parables (Matt. 13), as a way to connect common-place things with his hearers while communicating a moral lesson or truth.

It is clear that The Bridge is a parable of God the Father's sacrifice of his only Son, Jesus (Jn 3:16). Though the parallels break down with in-depth analysis, the cost of the Father's decision is powerfully illustrated here. What agony for him to see his son hang on the cross, dying a terrible and painful death. To avoid this scene would have required interventions, perhaps in the angelic cavalry (Matt. 26:53), or prevention by not sending his Son. But the Fall of mankind required a redeemer. Anything less than the Son's death would have denied humanity's redemption (Heb. 9:22).

Watching The Bridge is emotionally tough but inspiringly tender. For Jesus-followers, it reminds us of the sacrifice of the Savior we love and serve. For those not yet yielded to Christ, the denouement highlights the results of this sacrifice, and the life that can be had in Christ. If you have not yet chosen to trust Jesus, cross that bridge to life and put your faith in him. You won't be disappointed!

Copyright ©2009, Martin Baggs

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