Sunday, October 11, 2015

'Z for Zachariah' Features Surprising Christian Themes Alongside Its Post-Apocalyptic Love Triangle Premise



Z for Zachariah is a loose adaptation of the 1974 science fiction novel of the same name by Robert C. O’Brien.  The movie stars Margot Robbie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Chris Pine as (presumably) the last three human beings on earth after a nuclear holocaust devastates civilization and contaminates the world with radiation.  It is set in a valley unharmed by the radioactive fallout since it – as theorized by one of the characters – has been protected by its natural ridges and has its own self-contained weather system.

Since her farmstead is located in this valley, Ann Burden (Margot Robbie) is initially the only person in the area.  After a year of living alone, Ann encounters another survivor, a scientist named John Loomis, whom she nurses back to health after failing to stop him from swimming in a radioactive stream that he has mistakenly believed to be as clean and safe as the rest of the valley.  As the days passed, Ann and John work to rebuild life together, develop a friendship despite their differences, and are on their way of becoming lovers – but all is interrupted by the arrival of another survivor to the valley, a miner named Caleb (Chris Pine).  As to be expected, an awkward love triangle ensues.

There are aspects of this film that I didn’t like.  First of all, there were instances when the slow pace bored me, thus, the movie seemed to be longer than its hour-and-a-half running time.  Second, I’m not a fan of the edgy love triangle among their characters.  And third, I didn’t quite like the abrupt open-ending.

On the other hand, I was pleasantly surprised of its Christian undertones since the trailers for it didn’t quite hint on this (or I missed it).  This is not a Christian movie at all, but it depicts Christian values, though not substantially, with sincerity and positivity.  And even though the supposedly Christian characters didn’t exactly behave in a pure, commendable, and Christ-exalting manner through 100% of the movie, the redemptive qualities portrayed still outweigh the negative.

This facet of the movie not only works as a sort of a contemporary parable, but also as a provocative, philosophical case study of how a person’s faith or lack of it will influence his or her attitude and decision-making in such terrifying, hopeless scenario.  And I really appreciate how the movie somewhat illustrates that a Christian’s faith can remain relevant even in a bleak post-apocalyptic backdrop.

All in all, though noticeably hindered by its shortcomings, Z for Zachary accomplishes being a contemplative drama, supplemented by no small amount by the compelling performances of the cast – who are definitely three of the best working actors today – and its lush New Zealand setting (though the story actually takes place somewhere in the Eastern United States).

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Jack Men said...
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