Friday, March 21, 2008

Kidnapped! - An Unexpected Hero...

I've been wanting to post this review since I saw the movie in December, but one thing after another got in the way and I never did it. Before I talk about the movie, I want to be sure that we're all clear about which movie I'm referring to, because there have been so many movies of Kidnapped! made. The only version I've seen is the 2005 TV series.

I certainly think it deserves an A-rating. The movie was well-done, despite the fact that it was a TV serial. It wasn't totally true to the book, but the main story-line was the same. The Scottish kid who played Davy Balfour was a wonderful actor with a delicious accent and Alan Breck was also very skillfully and impressively protrayed. I think this may be one of the few "movie-better-than-the-book" situations. In a previous post, I talked about how Stevenson seems to have a shortage of heroes in his books. This is one reason why I like this movie better than the book - heroism in the movie was much better defined. Of course, this is my personal opinion and you might disagree. It has been quite awhile since I read Kidnapped! all the way through.

A prominent theme in the movie is innocence. From the beginning, Davy Balfour is shown to be a guileless (and sometimes foolish) farm boy. He knows nothing about cruelty, oppression, dishonesty, or hatred. (Don't you just love characters like that?:) When his father dies, though, he is left to face the world alone (A famous theme in a lots of good books) and heads for his uncle Ebeneezer's estate in another part of the country. His uncle, as you've probably already guessed, is a deceitful miser. To keep Davy from coming into his inheritance, he sells him as a slave to a captain headed for The New World. Of course, Davy isn't expecting anything like this. He doesn't even know that such acts are possible. When he wakes up in the bottom of the ship, and learns that he is a slave, the look of utter shock on his face is absolutely priceless. If it doesn't make you feel like crying, I'll be surprised. However, what makes this such a moving scene is not nessecarily Davy's misfortune, but the very fact that he is so shocked by his uncle's betrayal of him. Davy has a clean conscience and a perfect moral compass. This sense of right and wrong is a part of who he is and it automatically tells him that the very IDEA that his own uncle could sell him into slavery is utterly WRONG. When I realized this, I started to think about how treachery of this sort is horribly normal in the world.

Throughout the rest of the movie, this thought kept coming to me and I began to realize that Davy Balfour never accepts wrong because "that's the way it is." It shocks him every time. He cries over killing a man in his first battle, and, at the end of the movie, rescues his uncle from suicide. Even though acts of cruelty hurt and shock him, he never holds grudges. Throughout the movie, he experiences countless cruelties and injustices, including the brutality of life at sea and the tyranny of the English rulers over the Scottish. He meets people, even friends, who betray him, and he learns that the world is generously populated with cutthroats. However, even though he becomes a wiser and more discreet young man, Davy never loses his sense of right and wrong, and he never loses his innocence.

Another of the main characters in the movie is Alan Breck. Alan is an accomplished warrior who has been killing English predators for years. He thinks he's pretty hot stuff but he has a lot of character problems. He doesn't value life and he is very proud. Instead of bravery, Alan displays bravado. He has done great things for Scotland and truly desires to free his country, but he has lost his sense of right and wrong. This is carefully showcased in the movie and when I watched it I felt a sort of quiet dislike towards Mr. Breck. Even though he is the "macho man," I didn't think of him as a hero. I thought of Davy as being the only hero in the story. When Alan and Davy were are their lowest point, Alan had nothing, but Davy had a compass.

We live in a world where "innocence" is valued mostly in poetry, children's books, idealistic paintings, and a few old songs. In the real world, it is often mocked. I think that we (the human race as a majority) have come to expect wrong. We have seen so much of it that it doesn't surprise us anymore. Innocence is incovenient. It gets in the way, it makes us look simple and foolish. Worst of all, we don't even know what it is until we lose some of it. It seems like a tiring sort of worldview altogether. But Romans 16:19 says "Be excellent at what is good and innocent of evil."

Innocence is a high road. It's one of those roads that are easy to fall off of and so hard to follow. But secretly, I think most of us want to be there, and would give uncounted treasures to find ourselves back on that road again.

Seize The Day!


Aldawen said...

I didn't realize there was a movie for this; I enjoyed the book, though!

Anya said...

I haven't seen the movie OR read the book... *sigh*... although in typing class, we've had to type an excerpt from Kidnapped

I do apologize for running off. It became apparent that I forgot to warn many people!