Lions Gate Films
107 minutes (R rating)
people of faith go to the movies, they’re often on
the lookout for spiritual content. For some films the search
is more fruitful than for others. In the case of Crash,
this year’s Academy Award winner for Best Picture,
the spiritually minded will not be disappointed. Crash tells the tale of those so desperate for human contact
that they “crash” into one another, sometimes
with incredible brutality. It has lots to say about the
vulnerability and brokenness of humanity, and even a little
to say about faith.
in modern-day Los Angeles, Crash pieces together ethnically
dissimilar characters who at first seem connected only
by their reciprocal paranoia and willingness to do each
other harm. In a movie overflowing with compelling moments,
one seems to take precedent. It is when Daniel, the Mexican
Locksmith, (who is arguably the most morally balanced and
consistent character in the movie) gives an invisible cloak
to his young daughter, Lara.
knows that he is raising her in a frightening world;
he has been out in it all day.
But he responds to his daughter’s fear as a person
of faith—by telling a story. After finding her hiding
under her bed late at night, he gently places her on
top of the bed and spins a marvelous fairy tale about
cloak that can protect the one who wears it from all
harm. As Lara listens, Daniel carefully places the imaginary
cloak around her shoulders, lifting her hair so that
will not be pulled by the cloak’s weight, and fastens
the clasp under her chin. His daughter believes with complete
faith that the cloak will protect her, and in fact it will,
but not exactly in the way we expected.
a father, Daniel is protecting her young mind from the
cruel reality of the world for just a little longer.
But he has a similar beautifully faithful naiveté.
He exhibits the conviction that doing the right thing,
playing fair, working hard and caring for your family will
ultimately keep you and your loved ones safe. And then
he “crashes” into a storeowner who will challenge
storeowner, frustrated by crime, cultural barriers, and
the prejudice that he faces as an Arab-looking man,
puts his faith in something different than an invisible
cloak. He buys a gun. He also loves his family, and the
relationship he has with his older daughter bears a remarkable
similarity to the one between Lara and Daniel. They go
together to the gun shop. Once the gun is purchased, the
gun seller makes a prejudiced remark that throws his customer
into such a fit of rage, he must be escorted out of the
store. His daughter is left to select the bullets. Does
she know what she is choosing? The audience is left to
wonder. Whatever the case, her choice fastens an imaginary
cloak around her father’s neck.
human beings, we often hope for an invisible cloak. We
wish for something that will protect us from the vulnerabilities
of being human, the danger of living in this world. As
people of faith, Christians tell a far-fetched tale. The
story presumes that our bodies are frail; that if we are
terminally ill or mortally wounded or crucified, for example,
we will die. But then comes the miracle—the cloak’s
magic is realized. For Christians, dying is not the end;
if you die, you will be resurrected.
there is an earthly cloak as well—it is us.
A film like Crash can teach us that we are the potential
protectors of one another, if we make the right choices.
One could care for the poor, or confront the friend who
is doing drugs, or visit a lonely neighbor, or even do
whatever possible to ensure that every child has decent
healthcare and a solid education. Not in all instances,
but in some, the choices we make can become an invisible
cloak to protect our human brothers and sisters.
we fail to be that invisible cloak, and even when we
are the perpetrators of brutality, change is still possible.
Like each of us, the characters in Crash are human; they
make mistakes. Even the ones we expect to be morally sound,
like the rookie cop, are capable of murder. Even those
who seem thoroughly depraved, like the racist cop, are
capable of compassion. And those who make a simple choice
to view another human being as holy rather than disposable
can change lives forever, like the gangster who frees the
a van-full of people who were sold into slavery. In an
unpredictable and scary world, Crash’s plea for connection,
for protection, for human dignity, is a cry for redemption
we all should heed.
@ 2006 Bonnie Malone