The Racially Diverse Movie that Wasn’t About Race: The Magnificent Seven

Remember the movie headlines and trending topics when the casting info came out about Antoine Fuqua’s Magnificent Seven?

ATOINE FUQUA’S MAGNIFICENT SEVEN TO BE A RACIALLY DIVERSE CAST

And on, and on, and on. And many of us rolled our eyes. Why? Because, we are tired of hearing about race. We are tired of hearing about racially driven violence, lost lives, and people being blamed, both black and white, for actions and events they had nothing to do with.

I’m sick of the word “race” altogether. There is no such thing as “races”, that is a term that has stemmed from an evolutionary mindset where scientists once believed that some “races” were more evolved than others. We know that to be a lie, so why are we still using the false terminology?

In truth, there is only one race, and that is the human race. That encompasses every tribe, every nation, every color, every beating human heart. We are all members of one human race, created in the Image of God.

I came out of the The Magnificent Seven a few days ago positively thrilled. It was a perfectly delicious film, for many reasons. But one reason in particular was worthy of a post. And that reason was….

The Magnificent Seven was a movie starring a diverse cast that was never about race, it was actually about the real issue: human nature.

Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) was an incredibly skilled man who carried himself with modesty and intelligence. He obviously had the ability to hate, but what was even more evident was his ability to forgive and move on. Sam’s obvious respect and friendship with Goodnight (a sharpshooter who fought for the Confederacy) was the evidence of that.

“What we lost in the fire we’ll find in the ashes.” Sam to Goodnight

Goodnight (Ethan Hawke) was legendary for his sharpshooting abilities. He had 23 confirmed kills during the war. And he was a haunted man with a severe case of PTSD. Goodnight hated thinking about all of the faces of the ones he had killed, even though it had been during a war. He has a hard time forgiving himself and moving on. As I said above, Sam holds no malice for this man. Sam isn’t a black man who sees a white man, he is a man who sees a man. And by his judgment, Sam holds this particular man in respect and high esteem, respect that Goodnight reciprocates.

Goodnight displays this kind of colorblindness in his friendship with Billy (Byung-hun Lee). Billy more than any other member of the Seven is mentioned as having faced prejudice because of his ethnic background. Still, Billy doesn’t walk around with a chip on his shoulder. He just lives his life. Goodnight couldn’t care less what color Billy is, he values Billy’s skills and it is obvious that these two are deeply in tune with each others’ needs. Billy is as protective over Goodnight’s vulnerabilities as Goodnight is protective over the prejudices surrounding Billy. They are brothers from another mother.

Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier) is a Comanche Indian who is something of an outcast even among his own tribe. Red Harvest is “on a different path”. Red Harvest offers his services to the Seven without a second thought, even though on the outside he appears to have very little in common with them. Red Harvest is a stark contrast to the Indian thug, Denali, on Bogue’s side, the man who murders an unarmed woman in cold blood.

“You are a disgrace.” Red Harvest tells the fellow Indian in a confrontation.

This was a beautiful portrayal of the reality that good people are not determined by their color, but their hearts and actions.

Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio) has spent years hunting and scalping Indians. In a brief reference to his backstory, you get the impression that perhaps it was Indians who were responsible for the death of his family. However, Jack’s past experience does not keep him from joining forces with Red Harvest. Jack even laughingly mentions to the boy, “We have a lot to talk about.” He sees the man, not the color, and he finds the man worthy.

Vasquez (Manuel-Garcia Rulfo) is a Mexican man. There is some lighthearted banter between him and companions Faraday and Goodnight. Faraday consistently teases Vasquez about his Spanish words, and Goodnight and Vasquez have a conversation about their grandfathers being on opposing sides at the Alamo.

“Perhaps my grandfather killed your grandfather.” Vasquez

*laughs* Goodnight

Vasquez develops a playful friendship with the Seven, particularly Faraday. He puts forth an amazing effort in the battle against Bogue, and shows great concern for his companions and those they are defending.

Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt) is the biggest tease when it comes to anyone’s color. But it is obvious that none of that means a lick to him when he gets down to business. His admiration for these other men’s skills is obvious, and he willingly fights alongside them to defend the townspeople. He sees that each of them carry their own scars, and he understands that because he carries his own.

This movie was about humans, of all colors and backgrounds, and the choices they made out of their human nature, for good or evil. Bogue and his thugs acted out of greed, lust, evil, and a desire to prey upon the weak.

The Seven have made many wrong choices in their past. Each one is running from his own demons. But here and now, they are joined together in one purpose, to resist evil. They choose to walk out righteousness, protection, and to defend life. This movie wasn’t about the evil white man, or the evil black man, this is the about the evil manwho is opposed by other men who are choosing to stand up for good. In doing so they form a brotherhood born out of common purpose.

This is how it should be. This is the truth. Our battle is not between black and white, red and yellow, or any other color in between. Our battle is against evil, in any form or color.

Antoine Fuqua used his beautifully colorful cast to bring this point across. His characters were colorblind in both their grudges and their friendships. This perspective enabled them to unite. They were so powerful in fact, that seven men defeated a small army.

This is what can happen when we toss aside the false concept of race, and unite to fight the true battle that is against evil. We can all take a cue from the Seven.

The potential results from such a unity can only be thought of as magnificent.

 

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Why Movies Make Make Me Grateful on Memorial Day

I could write for hours on the amount of things that we are blessed with in America because of the sacrifice of our soldiers. But as this is a movie-themed blog, I’ll stick to this subject.

An amazing thought struck me one day when I was discussing a trivial and overly nerdy detail of the Star Wars universe with my brother. I have spent hundreds of hours in my life engaged in the subject of movies and movie worlds. I have often been tempted to feel foolish and superficial for this fact. And yes, it is good to step out into reality and face some real life things such as current events, vitamins, and walking the dog. Still, there are very few things that give me as much enjoyment as a good story on the screen.

I was thinking through all of these things one day, and the guilt threatened to creep up on me. Am I wasting my life? People who live in other countries don’t waste their time on movies, they are too busy thinking about where the next meal will come from. Or whether or not their village will be overrun by militants. But then, the profound thought struck me.

I have the time to spend on movies, because I live in a peaceful and prosperous country free from fear.

Pause for a moment and consider the non-essential things we Americans get to enjoy on a regular basis. Movies, amusement parks, zoos, trips to the beach, ice cream cones, parties, barbecues, the list goes on and on.

Why do we have the time to enjoy these things? Because we live in a free society where we do not spend our lives in fear. The majority of us live in comfortable, safe homes. We have food to eat. This is the case because our country has time to grow healthily and build up wealth and prosperity.

We do not live with the constant threat of evil people knocking down our doors and murdering us. I do not live in fear because I am a Christian. My freedom to privacy and freedom of religion are still intact while millions around the globe can’t even imagine it. I have time not just for the necessities, but also the pleasures of life and creativity.

Look at the countries in the world. The ones with the most freedom produce the largest amount in the creative arts and scientific advancements. You don’t exactly hear of any award-winning films or new potential cures to cancer coming out of North Korea, now do you?

Freedom and creativity go together. Freedom and individuality also go together. In America, we are allowed to be individuals who make our own choices. In communist nations your right to chose and live your life as your own person are taken by the government. Society becomes colorless and gray. The motivation to create and grow are stunted by the invasive control of the government.

Why do we have this freedom here in America? 2 reasons.

(1) God has blessed us immensely.

(2) Brave men and women have given their lives over the past few hundred years to defend out freedom.

There are many forces in the world that hate our guts because we are free. They would love to either enslave or obliterate us. Many forces have tried. But in every case, there have been brave souls who were willing to sacrifice themselves so that their brethren might remain free.

Even now, as we celebrate today, there are radical groups of people around the world in places like the Middle East and North Korea who would love to see us come to harm. There will never stop being threats to freedom because being free is good, and the opposite of evil.

To every man and woman who ever stood up in the face of evil and said, “No”, and died for their stand, I say thank you. To those whose loved ones paid the ultimate price so that I might be free to write this article today, thank you. I can’t imagine what you must feel on this day, and I know my simple ‘thank you’ can never cover your loss. To those who are still alive and stepping forward willingly to stand in the gap between evil and freedom, I say, thank you. You are in my heart and my prayers. These thanks go out to all soldiers, law enforcement officers, and even civilians who have given their lives to protect what is good and free.

Live, love, and create. We have been given a tremendous gift that most of the world will never ever experience. This gift has come with a price, one that was paid willingly by brave souls, and is still being paid today. Celebrate your freedom, and don’t feel shame in it. But do take the time to recognize the rare treasure you have been given.

God Bless, Happy Memorial Day!