Moving upon the face of the deep

I watched All Is Lost on Saturday night. As I explained in my post on the movie’s cinematography, the story is about a man sailing alone across the Indian Ocean who runs into a jettisoned (accidentally, we assume) shipping container. The collision breaks a hole in the side of his boat and the rest of the movie shows his increasingly frustrated efforts to survive.

All Is Lost is one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. Robert Redford, who plays the only character, has almost no lines, but his silence brings attention to everything he does, including what he looks at or doesn’t. The film never explains why Redford’s character is floating alone in the middle of the Indian Ocean. A short voiceover at the beginning of the film hints that he strongly regrets something, but we’re not sure what. We find out towards the end of the movie that those regrets are only voiced after his boat has been damaged and he’s completely helpless. It constitutes a confession of some kind, and only after this repentance is Redford “consumed” by fire and the story ends.

All Is Lost is a deceptively simple story. I suspect that it may be more theologically rich than many reviewers seemed to think – how can the story of a man alone on the ocean not be theological? Below are several quotations from Scripture that occurred to me while I was watching the movie. They roughly correspond to the narrative arc of the story.

Jonah 1:3
But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
John 19:34
*But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.
Joshua 2:18
*“…Bind this line of scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down…”
Jonah 1:17
*Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Psalm 139:7-12
*Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

Psalm 38:4
*For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.
Psalm 130:1
*Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord…
Lev 1:9
*And the priest shall burn all on the altar as a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the Lord.
Zechariah 2:5
*“For I,” says the Lord, “will be a wall of fire all around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.”