‘1917’ and the beauty of duty

Jan 7, 2020 by

By Brett McCracken, The Gospel Coalition:

“Time is the enemy.” That’s the marketing tagline for Sam Mendes’s World War I epic 1917, this year’s Golden Globe winner for best drama. Not since Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk has time itself been so foregrounded as a war film’s scariest foe. In both Dunkirk and 1917, the ostensible enemy (the German army) is largely unseen. Sure, we see their bullets, bombs, and bunkers; but we (mostly) don’t see their faces. This is because Mendes, like Nolan, wants audiences to focus on a more universal and terrifying villain: time, and its close cousin mortality.

Every one of us confronts this villain—whose weapon is simply a ubiquitous presence that constantly reminds us our time is limited; our lives are like vapors. What will we spend this precious life doing? Will we seek to preserve ourselves and lengthen our lives as long as we can? Or will we give ourselves away to a cause bigger than ourselves, even if it costs us?

[…]1917 captures the beauty of men taking the fight to the villain of time by giving everything they can in the few moments they have. Eternity is the prize anyway, so why not spend your life on something greater? It’s a movie about seizing the moment, recognizing the urgency of the mission, and choosing costly obedience over self-preserving comfort. In this way it’s also a reminder to Christians to stop wasting time squabbling about trifling things. God’s mission is greater, and his call is urgent. Let’s crawl out of the miry trenches and fight for what matters.

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