Jump to content

Top 25: Discussion of Nominated Films on Mercy


TylerMcCabe
 Share

Recommended Posts

Top 25 Films on Mercy:

Please keep nominations and seconds only in the nominations thread.  All discussion of the nominated films themselves should be posted here.

*Note: Currently, there are no hard-and-fast rules about eligibility based on content - it’s up to YOU to advocate for what you believe fits this category. We believe the community of voters will make a wise decision about it when the times comes. That said, please think carefully about whether the film is really about what the community wants for an "Arts & Faith" list as opposed to a purely generic "top films" list that would be created on some other popular movie website.

Also, your film being seconded does not relieve you of the duty to explain why your nominations interact with spiritual themes.  You are taking a position on the merits of a film by nominating it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 62
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

One of the first questions I'd have about this topic is to ask what everyone's feeling is about "abnegation of mercy" films.

Mercy can certainly be the topic of a story even if the refusal to grant mercy ends up being the end of the narrative.  This is to be distinguished from a story that is about the actual granting of mercy to a character.  In principle, I think the list could profit both types of stories.  In practice, I can think of far more films where vengeance or "justice" is taken and mercy is not given (and often not even considered) - which makes me wonder if, in practice, our Top 25 Films on Mercy could end up with 20-18 films where mercy is denied rather than given.  Just something we might want to watch out for.

Second, I would be interested to see participants here discuss what their understanding of "mercy" really is.  There are plenty of films I can think of where a doom or punishment is lifted from a character or group of characters.  Think of the slaves in Amistad.  And yet, I do not believe that justice is mercy.  In fact, my understanding of true mercy is that it is very much NOT justice.  So when John Quincy Adams talks the Supreme Court into ruling in favor of the Amistad slaves, that is not an act of mercy to me.  Not at all.

Not that I have anything against the film, but I would prefer to try and avoid too many vengeance films on this list.  While they could be argued to be about the "abnegation of mercy," I'd find any argument that they were about mercy in any shape or form, unpersuasive.  For purposes of illustration, Kill Bill is not a film about mercy.  Neither is Inglorious Basterds or Django Unchained.  Pulp Fiction, on the other hand, has a number of moments of mercy being shown to guilty characters.

If we are going to allow "justice" or "vengeance" be a theme, the film needs to at least explore the idea of mercy in some sense.  I could see reasonable arguments that Unforgiven or Dogville does this.

Third, is a story about "mercy" when it is about, oh say, protecting the innocent?  Can films about someone protecting the good and the innocent be films about mercy?  Or, to really explore the topic of mercy intelligently, ought the story to be about acts of mercy shown to the guilty?  The boy in The Kid with the Bike is not, at least wholly, innocent.  Would it really be a film about mercy if that boy was a saint?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One of my nominations, Day Break, which I doubt many others have seen, fits the "mercy as a choice" framework really well. It's an Iranian movie about a man on death row for murder, but in their justice system, the family of the victim has the option to either forgive him and spare his life, or to go through with the death sentence. Most of the film is about the man waiting for the family to show up and make their decision, and that limbo becomes the most agonizing thing for him. 

Edited by Tyler

It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
Twitter Blog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great questions, Jeremy. The Kid with the Bike is an interesting example. I think it would be possible for the film to be about mercy if the boy were a saint (avoiding for now the complexities built into that hypothetical) IF the woman were still making a sacrifice to adopt him (for example, ending her romantic relationship). I suppose I'd add that to your list of questions: Does mercy necessarily imply some measure of self-sacrifice on the part of the granter? I've only nominated one film so far, William Wellman's Frisco Jenny, but it would fall into this camp. The main character performs a tremendous act of mercy at the end of the film but it's for someone who is pretty spotless.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

44 minutes ago, J.A.A. Purves said:

One of the first questions I'd have about this topic is to ask what everyone's feeling is about "abnegation of mercy" films.

Mercy can certainly be the topic of a story even if the refusal to grant mercy ends up being the end of the narrative.  This is to be distinguished from a story that is about the actual granting of mercy to a character.  In principle, I think the list could profit both types of stories.  In practice, I can think of far more films where vengeance or "justice" is taken and mercy is not given (and often not even considered) - which makes me wonder if, in practice, our Top 25 Films on Mercy could end up with 20-18 films where mercy is denied rather than given.  Just something we might want to watch out for.

Second, I would be interested to see participants here discuss what their understanding of "mercy" really is.  There are plenty of films I can think of where a doom or punishment is lifted from a character or group of characters.  Think of the slaves in Amistad.  And yet, I do not believe that justice is mercy.  In fact, my understanding of true mercy is that it is very much NOT justice.  So when John Quincy Adams talks the Supreme Court into ruling in favor of the Amistad slaves, that is not an act of mercy to me.  Not at all.

Not that I have anything against the film, but I would prefer to try and avoid too many vengeance films on this list.  While they could be argued to be about the "abnegation of mercy," I'd find any argument that they were about mercy in any shape or form, unpersuasive.  For purposes of illustration, Kill Bill is not a film about mercy.  Neither is Inglorious Basterds or Django Unchained.  Pulp Fiction, on the other hand, has a number of moments of mercy being shown to guilty characters.

If we are going to allow "justice" or "vengeance" be a theme, the film needs to at least explore the idea of mercy in some sense.  I could see reasonable arguments that Unforgiven or Dogville does this.

Third, is a story about "mercy" when it is about, oh say, protecting the innocent?  Can films about someone protecting the good and the innocent be films about mercy?  Or, to really explore the topic of mercy intelligently, ought the story to be about acts of mercy shown to the guilty?  The boy in The Kid with the Bike is not, at least wholly, innocent.  Would it really be a film about mercy if that boy was a saint?

I resonate with a lot of your thoughts and questions, particularly about vengeance films highlighting what a lack of mercy would look like. In my overly simplistic way of framing it, justice is when wrong(s) have been made right and a person(s) gets what he/she deserved, whereas mercy is where a person in the wrong *doesn't* receive the punishment or consequences due to a willful act of forgiveness, providence, or both.

I think we'll need to discuss the differences between films about mercy and films about grace, and the distinction between those concepts. As an example, I see mercy as the priest in Les Miserables letting Jean Valjean go free after he's stolen and assaulted the priest; grace is giving him the candlesticks. Regarding The Kid With a Bike, I view, that as a film primarily about grace rather than mercy, whereas I view The Son as a film primarily about mercy than grace. I could be defining or parsing these concepts inconsistently, so I'd love to hear this community's input and wisdom regarding these terms.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for starting the discussion, Jeremy. I definitely don't think we should include revenge films just because they're an example of the abnegation of mercy. Conversely, I don't think we should equate mercy with forgiveness and nominate any films in which a character(s) struggles to forgive.

For me, there are two definitions of mercy, which are framing my nominations. First is an undeserved and/or unexpected second chance in which someone receives compassion, grace, forgiveness, etc., sometimes from another person, often from a divine source. The end of The Hudsucker Proxy is a literal dramatization of this, reinforced by the angel and devil striving for Barnes' soul, which is why I nominated it. The second definition of mercy I'm working with is when someone comes to the aid of another person in a way that comforts, strengthens, or assists the person, usually at a personal cost to the person showing mercy. Love & Mercy shows the second example with Elizabeth Banks' character as she creates an opportunity for Wilson to receive the first definition of mercy.

Considering that second definition, in regards to The Kid with a Bike, if the kid were a saint, I agree with Darren that it could still be about mercy.

As to my other nominations, True Grit has countless examples of those second chances (1st definition) given to Mattie, LaBoeuf, and Rooster. The idea of mercy being grace freely given is reinforced by the opening voiceover ("There is nothing free except the grace of God.") and the use of "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms."

Unforgiven is about a quest for vengeance, but in achieving the justice which the protagonists desire, it challenges notions of justice which say, "the bad guys had it coming," and instead reminds us that if not for mercy, we could all receive the same fate.

Finally, Murder on the Orient Express is most certainly a negative example about vengeance, but I nominated it, because the characters are given a chance to show mercy, and that plays out substantially in the denouement.

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dead Man Walking

 

I choose the film because mercy is so beautifully expressed here in the very fabric of the the nun’s prison visits to the condemned man.  Those visits are what makes this film special to me, and what makes this so deserving of consideration as a “mercy” film.

I don’t choose this on the basis of its possibly being lumped into an “anti-death penalty” niche.  That would be too simple and I think would not honor the film as it actually is.  (I appreciate the way that the reenactment of Matthew’s crime near the end not only makes us question the death penalty as a mirror of his actions, but also makes us consider whether perhaps his sentence is a just penalty.)

Here is a quote SDG from decentfilms.com on this film.  I think this helps summarize some of why this film is such a great choice for the category:

"And yet, the movie insists, Poncelet is neither a demon, nor a monster, nor an animal, but a human person, with an inalienable personal dignity that demands respect and even love. The victims’ families’ grief-stricken refusal to forgive is understandable, but Sr. Prejean’s is "the most excellent way." "

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Edited by Brian D
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My thinking for Lars and the Real Girl, just in case it's not obvious: It's about a self-centered, hard to love man who, instead of being shunned or ostracized (even when he seems to want it and might legitimately deserve it) by the community around him, is accepted with patience and dignity. He isn't forced to change his strange behavior before they welcome him. Instead, they love him in a way that shows him there could be a better way to live. 

It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
Twitter Blog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, Darren H said:

The Kid with the Bike is an interesting example. I think it would be possible for the film to be about mercy if the boy were a saint (avoiding for now the complexities built into that hypothetical) IF the woman were still making a sacrifice to adopt him (for example, ending her romantic relationship). I suppose I'd add that to your list of questions: Does mercy necessarily imply some measure of self-sacrifice on the part of the granter? I've only nominated one film so far, William Wellman's Frisco Jenny, but it would fall into this camp. The main character performs a tremendous act of mercy at the end of the film but it's for someone who is pretty spotless.

Understood - although I think for purposes of the list selection process, I would try to temper this understanding with Matthew 5:43-48, which seems to indicate that self-sacrifice for the good or the innocent is something different from self-sacrifice for the not so good or not so innocent.

Webster’s 1828 defines “Mercy” as follows:

"1. That benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves; the disposition that tempers justice, and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries, and to forbear punishment, or inflict less than law or justice will warrant. In this sense, there is perhaps no word in our language precisely synonymous with mercy. That which comes nearest to it is grace. It implies benevolence, tenderness, mildness, pity or compassion, and clemency, but exercised only towards offenders. Mercy is a distinguishing attribute of the Supreme Being. (The Lord is long-suffering and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty. Num.14.)

2. An act or exercise of mercy or favor. It is a mercy that they escaped. (I am not worthy of the least of all thy mercies. Gen.32.)

3. Pity; compassion manifested towards a person in distress. (And he said, he that showed mercy on him. Luke.10.)

4. Clemency and bounty. (Mercy and truth preserve the king; and his throne is upheld by mercy. Prov.28.)

5. Charity, or the duties of charity and benevolence. (I will have mercy and not sacrifice. Matt.9.)

6. Grace; favor. (1 Cor.7. Jude 2.)

7. Eternal life, the fruit of mercy. (2 Tim.1.)

8. Pardon. (I cry thee mercy with all my heart.)

9. The act of sparing, or the forbearance of a violent act expected. The prisoner cried for mercy.

To be or to lie at the mercy of, to have no means of self-defense, but to be dependent for safety on the mercy or compassion of another, or in the power of that which is irresistible; as, to be at the mercy of a foe, or of the waves."

#3 seems to support your view.  Mercy is not always necessarily given to the guilty, it can also be shown to the distressed, the unlovable, the outcast or the one in need.  I think #5, #6 and #7 are too broad for purposes of our list.  #1 would be a good focus.

5 hours ago, Joel Mayward said:

In my overly simplistic way of framing it, justice is when wrong(s) have been made right and a person(s) gets what he/she deserved, whereas mercy is where a person in the wrong *doesn't* receive the punishment or consequences due to a willful act of forgiveness, providence, or both.

I think we'll need to discuss the differences between films about mercy and films about grace, and the distinction between those concepts. As an example, I see mercy as the priest in Les Miserables letting Jean Valjean go free after he's stolen and assaulted the priest; grace is giving him the candlesticks. Regarding The Kid With a Bike, I view, that as a film primarily about grace rather than mercy, whereas I view The Son as a film primarily about mercy than grace. I could be defining or parsing these concepts inconsistently, so I'd love to hear this community's input and wisdom regarding these terms.

Those are some fine distinctions, but I can follow them.  I have to say that one of the exciting things about doing this list is if we really do create a list of 25 films that are really about mercy.

If mercy has real meaning, as either a virtue or theological truth, then a Top 25 Films on Mercy will look different from a Top 25 Films about Justice, or about Grace, or about Crime & Punishment, or about Vengeance or about Self-Sacrifice.

I believe it does have a real meaning.  Therefore, it would add power to the list if we actually do distinguish films about justice from films about mercy.  A story about characters getting their just deserts is not a story about characters not getting their just deserts.

4 hours ago, Evan C said:

I definitely don't think we should include revenge films just because they're an example of the abnegation of mercy. Conversely, I don't think we should equate mercy with forgiveness and nominate any films in which a character(s) struggles to forgive.

For me, there are two definitions of mercy, which are framing my nominations. First is an undeserved and/or unexpected second chance in which someone receives compassion, grace, forgiveness, etc., sometimes from another person, often from a divine source. The end of The Hudsucker Proxy is a literal dramatization of this, reinforced by the angel and devil striving for Barnes' soul, which is why I nominated it. The second definition of mercy I'm working with is when someone comes to the aid of another person in a way that comforts, strengthens, or assists the person, usually at a personal cost to the person showing mercy. Love & Mercy shows the second example with Elizabeth Banks' character as she creates an opportunity for Wilson to receive the first definition of mercy.

For what it's worth, I think forgiveness is a subset of mercy.  Limiting our list to films only about forgiveness is not necessary because mercy is broader than that.  But the limit does need to be set somewhere in order to for the list to have meaning.

For what it's worth, here is Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Matthew 5:7 in The Cost of Discipleship:

“These men (and women) without possessions or power, these strangers on earth, these sinners, these followers of Jesus, have in their life with him renounced their own dignity, for they are merciful. As if their own needs and their distress were not enough, they take upon themselves the distress and humiliation and sin of others. They have an irresistible love for the down-trodden, the sick, the wretched, the wronged, the outcast and all who are tortured with anxiety. They go out and seek all who are enmeshed in the toil sin and guilt. No distress is too great, no sin to appalling for their pity. If any man falls into disgrace, the merciful will sacrifice their own honour to shield him, and take his shame upon themselves. They will be found consorting with publicans and sinners, careless of the shame they incur thereby. In order that they may be merciful they cast away the most priceless treasure of human life, their personal dignity and honour. For the only honor and dignity they know is their Lord’s own mercy, to which alone they owe their lives. He was not ashamed of his disciples, he became the brother of mankind, and bore their shame unto the death of the cross. That is how Jesus, the crucified, was merciful. His followers owe their lives to that mercy.”

If we may a Top 25 list of stories about the men and women Bonhoeffer describes, then I think we'll have succeeded.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's a great quote from Bonhoeffer, Jeremy. If we had a list of films embodying that quote, it'd be fantastic. Regarding what Jeremy said about the distinction between films about justice and mercy, in Matthew 5:6, Jesus speaks about those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, a term synonymous with justice. Then he says, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy." Seeing this structure and distinction within the Beatitudes has been helpful for me; justice and mercy go hand in hand within the kingdom economy, yet remain distinct concepts or practices.

I also think of the Good Samaritan story in Luke 10, where the expert in the law, in responding to Jesus's question about who was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers, says, "the one who had mercy on him." It's interesting, because the Samaritan does seem to practice grace here too, and there's no sense of the traveling man having offended others or being a guilty person (apart from certainly disliking Samaritans as a Jew). Being a good neighbor means embodying mercy, just like the Good Samaritan. Perhaps we should be looking for Good Samaritans in our films on mercy, those who give of themselves without desire for reward or due to social propriety, but simply from kindness and compassion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mercy definitely has to do with wrongdoing.  I think it is different from pity or kindness towards the "innocent" downtrodden.  I think a film about vengeance could be appropriate but only if it is specifically wrestling with the issues of mercy that was rejected.  Most vengeance films are not doing this.  At least not directly enough.  It's something that could be sorted through in talking about the film.

Also.  I don't think that mercy is necessarily *not* justice.  I think there can be intentionally merciful forms of justice.  Plus if true justice is restorative and thus intended to restore a person to goodness and right relationships with others, then it is ultimately merciful.

As I've mentioned, I also understand God's so called "wrath" to be a giving over, allowing people to go astray and suffer the consequences and thus learn their lessons, return for healing and mercy, and thus deeply learn about mercy.  The "vessel of wrath" repents and comes home and becomes the "vessel of mercy", they are essentially the same person at different stages (the mercy is always available.)  So, i would see any story about a prodigal child returning home as having an element of mercy to it.  But the justice is still there, in the consequences of going prodigal that they bring upon themselves.  Of course a film with a prodigal child storyline might not have enough of a direct view of mercy in order to be a valid consideration.  There are a lot of films that have the prodigal theme as an aspect of the story.

In that I'm not saying that we shouldn't have any sort of justice at all in our legal system.  So, connected to this, a film where the criminal is given the lighter sentence, or is treated with intentional kindness and dignity in the legal system, etc,  can still very much be a film about mercy, again, if this is handled right and quite intentionally about the subject matter of mercy.

Edited by Attica
Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, in that sense, I would see a film like DRIVE to have an element of mercy in it, by the fact that it evokes a sense of mercy in me for a person who is so obviously lost and prodigal.  It gave me a sense of God's mercy towards him (if he was real of course) as he was in a state of being "given over" to the consequences, but the mercy and compassion for him are still there.  He just needs to return.

Not that I'd nominate this movie.  I'd think that it would be kind of hard to elucidate why I see it as being related to mercy in a small blurb, and I'm not sure how much my understandings could be equated to the filmmaker's intentions.

Edited by Attica
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the Bonhoeffer quote and the Webster 1st definition, Jeremy. I agree that if we centered our list around movies which fit that description, it would be a pretty great list.

 

I'm going to make one more push for True Grit and Unforgiven. That Bonhoeffer quote perfectly fits Rooster's character trajectory. He begins as a foul mouthed drunk who is happy to shoot anyone who gets in his way, kicks native American children for fun, and is willing to risk the lives of his collaborators should it advantage him. He ultimately puts his reputation, his job, and his life on the line to rescue a 14yo girl he previously couldn't have cared less about.

 

Munny wrestles with all the aspects described in Webster's 1st definition from his questioning whether he should accept the job to his lecturing the kid to his knowledge of the consequences of violent vengeance.

 

On my phone, so I apologize for any typos.

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 2/11/2016 at 1:34 PM, Evan C said:

For me, there are two definitions of mercy, which are framing my nominations. First is an undeserved and/or unexpected second chance in which someone receives compassion, grace, forgiveness, etc., sometimes from another person, often from a divine source. The end of The Hudsucker Proxy is a literal dramatization of this, reinforced by the angel and devil striving for Barnes' soul, which is why I nominated it. The second definition of mercy I'm working with is when someone comes to the aid of another person in a way that comforts, strengthens, or assists the person, usually at a personal cost to the person showing mercy. Love & Mercy shows the second example with Elizabeth Banks' character as she creates an opportunity for Wilson to receive the first definition of mercy.

This right here is my main concern. Surely we need to keep our idea of "mercy" fairly specific? I'm having a hard time visualizing an interesting list of "aid and comfort" films.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

12 hours ago, Evan C said:

I'm going to make one more push for True Grit ....

Just seconded it.

A brief explanation of my nominations:

Wise Blood: I know this one is marmite, but I kind of love it and I think that any list of "Films on Mercy"--and particularly if we're wanting the God's-mercy-to-humanity angle--would be enriched by this selection. This might be the most obvious nomination I make since I'm having trouble coming up with movies specifically "about" mercy (as opposed to, say, movies that dramatize mercy).

The Ox-Bow Incident: A bit less clear-cut, but the failure of mercy on a person-to-person level is what propels the tragedy (and it's tied in to larger social moments, too; the novel was written as a warning against Fascism).

So Close to Paradise: Again, this might be a stretch. Heck, it might not even be a good movie--I didn't enjoy it the first time I watched it and then I did the second time, but Rotten Tomatoes still ranks it pretty low. There is, I think, an element of [violent] mercy in the relationship of the two male protagonists that might be worth exploring.

The Elephant Man: Back to the obvious choices. There's very little I can say about this movie that would explain better than the movie itself why it shouldn't at least be considered (though if it's appeared on other lists it might be undesirable here).

Days of Being Wild: Again, the mercy here may only show up in a negative (in the photographic sense), violent form; in part, it is a failure of mercy (insofar as mercy is coextensive with love) that pushes Luddy in the direction he goes. (Actually, if I were to nominate another WKW movie, it would be Happy Together, which might be even more suited for this sort of list....)

Dam Street: The story of an unwed mother coping with societal pressures and grinding poverty? The very depiction is a sort of mercy. It demands mercy of the viewer. It shows mercy to people who wouldn't otherwise get a voice. Which--seriously, if we don't turn out a list full of movies about prostitutes, adulterers, murderers, and social outcasts, I'll consider the list a failure. :P 

Edited by NBooth
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I threw in A History of Violence for consideration.  I'm not sure if it's a fit, but it certainly has questions about violent people receiving second chances, and that ending is certainly poignant in the question of mercy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 2/12/2016 at 0:37 PM, Attica said:

Mercy definitely has to do with wrongdoing.  I think it is different from pity or kindness towards the "innocent" downtrodden.  I think a film about vengeance could be appropriate but only if it is specifically wrestling with the issues of mercy that was rejected.  Most vengeance films are not doing this.  At least not directly enough.  It's something that could be sorted through in talking about the film.

Also.  I don't think that mercy is necessarily *not* justice.  I think there can be intentionally merciful forms of justice.  Plus if true justice is restorative and thus intended to restore a person to goodness and right relationships with others, then it is ultimately merciful.

I think it is important to make sure our concepts are clear.  You seem to being saying that there are "merciful forms of justice" by applying it to something like a court of law and punishments.  A "justice system" can have rehabilitative and merciful aspects built into it.  But it is important to understand that a judge having mercy on a criminal is a judge who is not following the dictates of justice.  Mercy is not justice by definition.  Thus, a story about justice being dealt out (like Judgment at Nuremberg) is not about mercy.  A story about making sure that we do not wrongly punish the innocent (12 Angry Men) is a story about justice, not mercy.  By contrast, Mercy is very much about someone getting what he or she does not deserve.

I'd allow for complexity without losing the definition of mercy.  The character of Javert in Les Miserables, for example, is pursuing justice - but is, in reality, pursuing the letter of the law to the perversion of justice in a case where the punishment is not proportionate to the crime.  For this perversion of justice, Javert himself is guilty - and this is why he is so devastated by Jean Valjean's act of mercy at the end.

On 2/13/2016 at 9:35 PM, Rushmore said:

This right here is my main concern. Surely we need to keep our idea of "mercy" fairly specific? I'm having a hard time visualizing an interesting list of "aid and comfort" films.

Evan's first definition of Mercy is perfect for purposes of this list.

On 2/11/2016 at 11:34 AM, Evan C said:

For me, there are two definitions of mercy, which are framing my nominations. First is an undeserved and/or unexpected second chance in which someone receives compassion, grace, forgiveness, etc., sometimes from another person, often from a divine source. The end of The Hudsucker Proxy is a literal dramatization of this, reinforced by the angel and devil striving for Barnes' soul, which is why I nominated it. The second definition of mercy I'm working with is when someone comes to the aid of another person in a way that comforts, strengthens, or assists the person, usually at a personal cost to the person showing mercy. Love & Mercy shows the second example with Elizabeth Banks' character as she creates an opportunity for Wilson to receive the first definition of mercy.

If you don't mind my asking, Evan, where do you get your second definition from?  It certainly seems broad enough to encompass any act of self-sacrifice.  How it would exclude, oh say, Neo in The Matrix, John McClane in Die Hard or Sarah Connor in The Terminator?  One character coming to the aid, comfort or assistance of another character at personal cost seems to be pretty generic as far as stories go.  You could argue that about almost any story with a good character.  (We could, of course, make a Top 25 Films about Self-Sacrifice later.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

22 minutes ago, J.A.A. Purves said:

By contrast, Mercy is very much about someone getting what he or she does not deserve.

I still think that this would fit in with what I had said though.  Someone could still receive some form of justice that is not as harsh as they deserve, or be treated in kind ways within the justice system that is beyond what they deserve.  Plus if the justice system truly cares for the criminals well being, with his/her future good in mind, then there is an element of mercy there.

I just don't think it has to be black and white.  There can be mercy woven through justice.  I think there is some of this all of the time, especially in some cultural views.   

I also expect that we can see some of this in God's dealing with our lives.  God helps us out of some of the consequences of our folly, but not all of them.  We often still have consequences but can be delivered from some of the harshness of them.  Of course grace can even turn our folly and consequences for our benefit - eventually.  So this last point might blend the line between mercy and grace.

Edited by Attica
Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 minutes ago, J.A.A. Purves said:

If you don't mind my asking, Evan, where do you get your second definition from?  It certainly seems broad enough to encompass any act of self-sacrifice.  How it would exclude, oh say, Neo in The Matrix, John McClane in Die Hard or Sarah Connor in The Terminator?  One character coming to the aid, comfort or assistance of another character at personal cost seems to be pretty generic as far as stories go.  You could argue that about almost any story with a good character.  (We could, of course, make a Top 25 Films about Self-Sacrifice later.)

I was trying to incorporate the corporal and spiritual works of mercy* (feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, comfort the sorrowing, etc.) into a concise definition that would be applicable to this list. After Robby's response, I do think that definition could use some tweaking, but it's still an angle I would not want to be absent from our discussion.

 

*as defined by the Catholic Church

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Evan C said:

I was trying to incorporate the corporal and spiritual works of mercy* (feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, comfort the sorrowing, etc.) into a concise definition that would be applicable to this list.

Ok, in keeping with that definition of mercy, I've gone ahead and nominated Happy Together. I think the way in which Lai Yiu-fai (Tony Leung) cares for Ho Po-wing (Leslie Cheung) is a pretty clear-cut example of mercy under such a rubric (obviously, it doesn't end "well" for him, but....)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Brief essay on Tender Mercies by David Smedberg from the 2004 A&F Top 100: http://artsandfaith.com/t100/tendermercies.html

Quote

Though set in Texas, Tender Mercies is a poignant reflection on experiences and challenges that are universal. It moves unhurriedly through the struggle of a middle-aged man to understand why, even after he seemingly made every effort to ruin his life, God still blessed him.... Rosa Lee tells Mac that he and her son are the "tender mercies" of her life. The movie invites us to reflect on how we reflect God's mercy into each others' lives.

 

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Romero I think qualifies for the way in which we see the title figure transformed by his growing compassion for and identification with the downtrodden people he serves. As SDG (who suggested this as a film appropriate for the Year of Mercy) points out in his review

Quote

Romero repudiates Marxism, but will not allow anti-Marxism to be used as a weapon to quell moral criticism. He preaches a theology of liberation, but a liberation "rooted in faith" that is "so often misunderstood" in merely political terms.

In his attempts to bring mercy to persecuted people, he himself pays the price in an unjust and corrupt society.

Edited by BethR

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I nominated The Look of Silence due its central character's actions and the exploration of the difficulty of forgiveness. This is a film that directly confronts injustice, face-to-face, and refuses to look away, yet also never devolves into retributive violence, nor inaction. It's a film about mercy, but it also invites the viewer to participate in mercy for the characters themselves--we feel deeply for this family who has endured such heartache and injustice, and the scenes with the elderly couple elicited a strong emotional response.

However, its release date may not allow it to qualify, as it played festivals in 2014, but was a wide release in 2015 in the US.

Edited by Joel Mayward
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share


×
×
  • Create New...