Last night we saw the movie Elysium. Unfortunately, due to the 60+ f-words, I can’t really recommend it to anyone. We actually saw it dubbed in Ukrainian, which magically removed all the profanity for us. Sadly, however, it also removed much of the storyline as well since we couldn’t understand everything going on. That’s just life when you live in a foreign country that doesn’t always use the language you actually spend your time studying.
The film is getting mixed reviews by critics and moviegoers, and for good reason. It was a powerful story told in a rather sloppy way, and I’ve agreed with most all the critiques I’ve read which have said as much. That said, the movie did have a powerful story, and I just can’t stop thinking about its message.
In the future, the rich have left earth to live in an immaculate city called Elysium which orbits our planet. They took with them medical technology which is able to quickly and easily heal any and all ailments and diseases. Earth is overpopulated, everyone is sick, and all dream of making it to Elysium one day.
One of the complaints of the film is that there is too stark a difference between the Haves and Have Nots without any explanation for what would have realistically caused it. Why would this technology only be available on Elysium? Why is there absolutely no help for the suffering at all? These are questions that came to my mind frequently as I watched the film, but every time the questions surfaced I realized something: That’s the point. That’s exactly the point.
I couldn’t help but compare what I was seeing to our modern day western lifestyle. Health care, drinking water, standards of living. Why does the west hold all the best technology? Why is it so difficult and expensive for the poor and the foreign to get help? In one of the final scenes of the movie we learn that there are actually medical ships standing by to help those in need. Where have those been this whole time?
It was all a humbling reminder that those who have been blessed with more have no excuse not to use it to bless those who have very little.
I also couldn’t help from comparing what I was seeing to the church and its relationship with the world. How often do we Christians look like the citizens of Elysium, flying high above real life, not truly giving thought to those who are in need right beneath their noses? It’s sad when I think about how often we have missed (refused?) opportunities to help because we are walled up in our million dollar buildings in our well-to-do areas of the city.
It’s even more tragic when I think about the gospel. Have we kidnapped it and kept it to ourselves even though there is a whole world in need of hearing it? You mean they had the cure for the disease the whole time and they didn’t share it with anyone who actually needed it?
So for all its shortcomings, Elysium definitely has caused my heart to think. We may argue that the real answers to these questions aren’t as simple as the film implies, but who cares? Maybe instead of asking what society can realistically do, a better question is to simply ask, What can I do?
When the son of man returns, will he find faith on the earth? Or will he find his people jumped ship and built a beautiful, inaccessible kingdom far removed from those who need its help the most?