Flight of the Phoenix

Recommended. Great popcorn adventure movie. Actually, a survival adventure movie about a group of people trying to get out of the Gobi desert by rebuilding a small plane out of the parts of the plane they crashed in. I really enjoy Dennis Quaid. He is an underestimated actor. And the story really kept me interested. The writers, Scott Frank and Edward Burns, even put a heart and worldview into it. Unfortunately, the worldview is rather humanistic and empty. Once again, a story about life and death where God is virtually ignored, except to criticize him. A guy sees another guy praying over his ration of peaches and says, “I’m amazed that during these dire times, you thank God for anything.” He then tells a little joke about a boxer crossing himself before fighting and someone asks what it means, and another says, “Not a damn thing if the man can’t fight.” Well, yes, this is another humanistic interpretation that tries to reinforce the fact that if we survive it is because of our own ingenuity because God is irrelevant. Man will fly himself out of his problem. Then later, that joke teller answers someone regarding his “belief” in getting out of the desert. He says he believes in spirituality not religion. “Religion divides people. Belief in something unites.” Well, duh. What do you think religion is? IT’S A UNITY BASED ON BELIEF. The storytellers here clearly show their philosophical ignorance and religious bigotry. It is not religion that is the problem it is man’s inherently selfish nature that turns all beliefs into division rather than uniting. Of course, it’s TRUTH that ultimately divides anyway. Those who do not have the truth or want it accuse those who do of division, when in fact, it is the rejecter of truth who is the divider. But that aside, you know this is the writer’s own viewpoint because he provides no retort in the mouth of the believer. Believe me, I can think of a hundred great responses. So, that means the writer wants that view to prevail or have the upper hand cause it has the “last word.” Unless of course, the director changed the original script by cutting out a good response in the editing. That is entirely possible. There is another “thematic” moment where a character spells out the theme: “Man only needs one thing in life: Someone to love. And if you can’t give him that, give him something to hope for. And if you can’t give him that, just give him something to do.” In this sense, hope or meaning is constructed by the individual in a meaningless universe where our value comes from choice. A touch of Existentialism. As Sartre would say, “to do is to be.” Also a typical Romantic idea that in the absence of God, “love” between two humans is all there is. Well, Ironically, later on, when the hero tries to validate his reason to go on when there is no hope because “We’re not garbage. We’re people. We’ve got families, lives to live.” But of course, if there is no God, then all that meaning is self-delusion. There simply is no difference between garbage and people. We’re all made from the same molecules. There was a great opportunity in the Giovani Ribisi character, who was a great character as the annoying know-it-all, whose knowledge saves them all because he builds planes. There is a time when his arrogance reaches a truly repulsive level when he says that everyone else but him is dispensable. In other words, the typical humanist notion that knowledge is salvation. I think that this was a wasted set up because they never conclude with this character fault. They never really shame this part of him. They could have shown how knowledge alone does not save, but so does character and sacrifice. Like maybe a character could have saved Ribisi by sacrificing himself and that would be a point in the story that, No, the only reason Ribisi is alive is because of the goodness of another or something like that. My point is not to rewrite the story but simply show that a better worldview could have made this story more satisfying for me. But it’s still a good adventure movie anyway. There is some humbling and self sacrifice, it’s just never tied in with the theme like it should have been. Alas, you can’t expect much character or value from humanists with no understanding of transcendence.

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