Okay, the title of the post may not completely make sense but whatever – it’s my blog and I like it.
Anyway, I just finished watching the remake of 3:10 to Yuma starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale and found it phenomenal and spiritually rich. At the moment I cannot recall the ratings for the film upon its release but because it is a Western and I am partial to that genre.
There is so much to the Western. For me the American cowboy is for the US what the knight is for the UK. And with that idealization comes much in the way of what makes those stories and characters great and timeless – that is chivalry and self-sacrifice. 3:10 was certainly no different in my eyes.
With Crowe as the antagonist Ben Wade, we find an extremely charismatic villain whose love of creating art betrays his reputation like an atoll betrays the expanse of the open ocean. On the flip side, Bale’s protagonist Dan Evans, is one whose own dignity is seemingly borders on stubborn pride as he remains set on seeing out his choices to the end despite what appeared to me as doubt in said choices and even himself.
However, as the film crescendos towards the final scene there are breaks of what I would call examples of God’s Divine Mercy and the alleviation of Evans’ internal sufferings which stem from internal doubt. The doubt and possibly guilt that many a good father carries with them when they feel that they cannot and have not provided for their families. Add that to an injury gained on the battle field but not by the “courageous” fight against the enemy but from a fellow soldier via what we now call “friendly fire.” How many veterans return home from the front with an injury and barely a prospect to support themselves or their families?
The first of these glimpse of Mercy begins with the fact that Even decides to make a seemingly foolish decision to risk his life and that of his family to bring in Wade for $200 – just enough to skin by. This exhibits a man who is not greedy but desperate, involving himself where he has no obligation.
Despite this Evans survives where other die and his life is spared by the murderous outlaw Wade on more than one occasion – again, displaying the fact that Wade certainly has a moral compass – a conscience though malformed and crooked. Together both good and bad (not so bad) begin to see and understand each other in a way that, as evidenced in the scene at the train station, one could speculate that the two may have been friends were their paths slightly different. On the one hand Wade begins to respect Evans as a man of integrity and honor as the father proves that he did not ultimately choose to escort Wade to the train as a payout but rather as a way to show his oldest son that his father is a man integrity and of self-sacrifice. Wade now understands why he would turn down the $1000 he offered Evans while getting Mr. Butterfield, the railroad man, to promise that very amount simply because he “was the only to take Wade to the train when others wouldn’t.”
On top of that, the entire exchange concerning payoffs took place rain came down upon the drought-ridden town of Brisby, which eliminated, in the eyes of Wade, the monetary purpose for Evans choice. To me it seemed that the rain washed away the weight of doubt off the back of Evans and reinforced what faith he had in God. And no knowing that the his family was more than taken cared of – he was free to make good on his word for the simple reason that it was his word and that he was doing what he could to obtain justice for many who fell at the barrel of Wades revolver. A revolver that interestingly enough, played what was perhaps the most important part of the ending scene — giving us a glimpses of how Christ crucified joined with the selfless act of Evans brought hope and a shimmer of redemption to a violent villain.
Of course a film made today must show that the bad guy remains bad (thus Wade calls on his trusty steed) but I could certainly see that the director intended the Crucifix on the handle of Wade’s gun to be the equating factor for Wade “somewhat” redeeming himself. And through those last moments the audience knew that Evans would not have made the journey without the aid of Wade. It almost reminded me of Simon of Cyrene helping Jesus with His cross. The man wanted nothing to do with it but seeing that this was not only his redemption but the redemption of the entire human race – how could he not have joined willingly after a little prodding initially?
I know much of what I say can be considered a stretch but for me I see examples of God’s Mercy and Love in our dramatic tales in print and on stage and screen. It is written in our hearts.