There are bleak movies, and then there is The Road.
Let me start by saying that I enjoy dark movies. I would much prefer a view of the world that shows it for the painful, brutal place that it often is than a view that suggests that the guy always gets the girl and the good guy always wins. The Road is such a movie. IMDB’s terse summary describes The Road as a “post-apocalyptic tale of a man and his son trying to survive by any means possible.” This is brief, but accurate. The movie consists primarily of footage of man and son seeking refuge from a dying world, interspersed with flashbacks to a time before the end.
While this is not a Christian movie (in fact, there are passing references that God must not exist or must not care), several themes in the movie betray the truth.
- Good and evil
In a world such as the movie depicts, why is there any reference to good or evil? What meaning do terms of morality have anyway? The notions of good and evil are either subjective or they are objective. On atheism, we have two choices: either morality is subjective and therefore dependent upon the observer, or objective meaning it somehow arose with us through evolution to maintain society. If subjective, then terms like good and bad are little more than preferences. What I call good, another might call bad. Likewise, the phrase “bad guys” come to refer to people who I disagree with and nothing more. On the other hand, if morality is objective, then in the road we no longer have need for it. If morality arose to further society, once society is gone it becomes obsolete and meaningless. In fact, what is to say that the apocalypse was not a stage in evolution? Perhaps the creatures who arise from us will have a different morality than ours – one that suits their flourishing. Either way, any sense of morality is meaningless without God. The fact that the man and the boy speak in terms of “good guys” and “bad guys” (and that we the audience know exactly what they mean) betrays the fact that there is a truly objective standard beyond us.
- “The fire inside”
The man speaks to the boy about the fire inside – something that drives him. What is this fire? If we evolved via undirected processes, this fire is nothing more than a feeling evoked by a chemical reaction in our bodies. Why ought we follow this urge? On what grounds is obeying it a noble thing? For that matter, what possible reason is there for the boy to honor his father rather than eat him? The very fact that we identify with something inside of us – that we even believes transcends us – speaks of the existence and influence of God.
The landscape is barren. Animals and plants are a distant memory. The ocean is no longer blue. Everything is grey. But why is this a bad thing? What purpose does beauty serve anyway? Atheists can certainly appreciate beauty, but on evolution there is no basis to expect it or explain it. Beauty is a transcendent expression of God that we can appreciate and emulate, but naturalism has no explanation for its existence. The recognition of beauty indicates a nod of approval to the creator, whether you acknowledge him or not.
This one needs little explanation. There is a running theme of being together or seeing each other death. If there is no God, this is an indication of insanity. These people should be pitied for such a belief. Why do we identify with these desires if this life is all their is?
- Inherent value of life
This is a major theme throughout the movie.The man is horrified and crushed that his wife would choose to kill herself. On atheism, her choice is pragmatic and wise. But what viewer can see this as praiseworthy?! She claims to be doing this to spare them, but in fact she is choosing to contribute to the ruin of her husband and son.The man’s sole motivation for everything he does is to save his son. He places preservation of the boy’s life above all else. Evolution alone cannot explain altruism. In a world governed by chaos with no one to answer to, self-preservation is the only response that makes any sense.The boy sees the value of life even more clearly than his father does. He is devastated to see his dad belittle and harm the thief who stole everything they owned. He wants to take in every person they run across. He shows compassion for all, choosing to give away their limited supplies whenever he can.The examples go on. My question is why? What possible reason could there be for choosing to save the lives of others – especially our enemies? If there is no God, putting yourself at risk and showing preference to others seems a foolish thing to do.
There are probably other themes that I have not mentioned. Certainly, the problem of pain is always a troubling question. Why would God allow the world to end? Why would God allow children to be born into such a dreary state of affairs? Why does God not provide for the survivors? These are not questions without answers, but I’ll let them be for now.
If you have watched this movie, do you agree or disagree?
What other themes did you see?