Einar Gilkyson: You think the dead really care about our lives??
Mitch Bradley: Yeah, I think they do. I think they forgive us our sins. I even think it’s easy for them.
Einar Gilkyson: Griff said you had a dream about flying.
Mitch Bradley: Yeah. I got so high, Einar. I could see where the blue turns to black. From up there, you can see all there is. And it looked like there was a reason for everything.
Just saw a great movie — An Unfinished Life. Ranks right up there with Places in the Heart and My Life As a House as stories of redemption and forgiveness, told in realistic terms by a real thinkers who understand the complexity of human experience.
The quote above is from the end of the movie (not giving away the plot). Two crusty old cowboys played by Robert Redford and Morgan Freeman are reflecting on the dead because at the beginning of the movie we learn that Redford’s character Einar had a son who died in his 20s, and the old man never got over it. Every day he would sit at the grave and tell his son what had happened, what he was thinking, and ask for his opinion. It was not eerie or spiritualistic, just a man coping with life by metaphorically speaking to his son’s memory. So at the end Einar asks Mitch if the dead can forgive. The movie has just explored the more practical question, “can the living forgive?” The title comes from the inscription the father has cut into the son’s gravestone — “an unfinished life.”
My wife and I loved every character in the movie, and appreciated that the story saw hope and joy in even the bitter, disappointing aspects of human experience. In the end, the reason for everything comes out.
It makes me happy to see Hollywood types who are cynical toward churchianity, yearning to pierce the veil of time and ask what the purpose of human life might be. And it makes me happy to see them often arriving at the view that our lives are not in vain — that there is hope for everyone.