Last week the three of us saw a powerful movie, “Samson and Delilah”. A reviewer in the Melbourne “Age” said this of the film, “Salvation comes through self respect, faith strength of character.” I doubt the reviewer was talking religiously, but it had a powerful religious message which that summary emphasised.
The movie is Australian, thoroughly so, with an aboriginal director, Warwick Thornton, two aboriginal main actors, Marissa Gibson and Rowan Mcnamara, and the story sadly of the plight of many aborigines today in Australia. The hopelessness of the people, lacking education and motivation, drifting through life, aided by the poison of petrol sniffing to make the day go by.
However the boy Samson falls in love with Delilah, and we see romance begin, but not at any pace, or in any way we would understand in our own society. There was no conversation, just shy looks and stone throwing, as a way of trying to be noticed. If Delilah’s artistic mother had not died, and she punished by relatives unfairly, and Samson harassed by his brothers, they would never have taken the next step. The two of them steal the community car and disappear into Alice Springs, a sort of “descent into hell.”
The movie does not paint any pretty picture of romance, they are not at home in Alice Springs, live under a bridge and have to steal food or beg from a “swaggie”. Delilah tries to sell paintings, an art learned from her artistic mother, but to no avail, And Samson is so engulfed in petrol fumes he does not even notice her being kidnapped and bashed, presumably also raped. She then suffers an accident, and it seems the film will end in tragedy. But she returns from hospital, they go back to the village, and she begins a new life by dragging him into their old cultural life, a new beginning.
Delilah is for me a Jesus figure, certainly redeems Samson, but also preserves a dignity while all is horrific and punishing around her. I could see the gentle, strong, sacrificial love of Jesus in her personality.
This is a powerful, life saving film. Without preaching, it challenges us to look at our own racist attitudes. What do we do actively to help these suffering people in our own midst? Like the schoolgirls in the movie, we are even oblivious to their presence. St Francis Asissi told his community, “Preach always, if necessary use words!” That sums up this powerful film!
Warwick Thornton deservedly won the Cannes “Camera d’Or” for his novice direction, but I am sure the film will go onto to other success. I hope you can see it, even in USA.