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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