Absolution And Freedom From Pain: The Ideas & Meaning Of The Film The Shack (2017). Plot Analysis & Meaning Of The Film The Shack , Explanation Of The Ending, Similar Films
Genre: fantasy, drama, adaptation of the novel
Year of production: 2017
Director: Stuart Hazeldine
Actors: Sam Worthington, Octavia Spencer, Radha Mitchell, Graham Greene, Ryan Robbins
tagline: “You’re never as alone as you think”
The Shack is based on Paul Young’s book The Shack. Conversation with God”, tells about the terrible grief of a father who survived the death of his beloved little daughter. Finding himself in an abandoned house in the mountains, he met with the Almighty in his three forms and was able to free himself from pain, fear and guilt. The plot and meaning of the film The Shack 2017 is tied to biblical motifs, but it will be clear to the bearers of any religion, because it is about universal human values.
The plot of the film The Shack
The beginning of the film is a dark screen and a voice-over: “Can you take it seriously if someone says that he spent a couple of days with God, and even in a hut?”
Mac Phillips grew up in a family where a tyrannical father mocked his mother and often beat the boy himself. After another family scene with a beating, a neighbor called him to her. After giving Mac a pie, she looked at his facial wound and said, “Good fathers don’t treat kids like that. This is not love”. “So what should I do?” the boy asked. “Turn to God,” the woman said.
Sam Worthington played the lead role of Mac Philipps. Frame from the film.
After Mac told the priest in the church about his father, the tyrant dad beat him all night. This was the last straw in the patience of the unfortunate child. Mack wrote a note saying “I hope you’ll forgive me”, went to the pantry and poured strychnine into all of his father’s bottles of alcohol. The voice-over says: “Pain can twist us from the inside. How can you be an adult at 13? But sometimes the secrets of the past come out.”
Next, Mac is shown as an adult. He has been married for 18 years, they have three wonderful children – a son and two daughters. Mac is still far from God, unlike his deeply religious wife Nan. She calls the Lord “Dad”. One winter, Mack saw a strange letter in a box. It read: “I miss you. If you want, we can meet at the hut. Dad”. And then the man slips, hits his head and loses consciousness.
In the summer, Mack and his children went on a picnic to Walowa Lake in the local national park. The older children went out to boat. And suddenly the ship capsized, the guy got caught on the bottom of the belt and could not swim out. Mac rushed to help his son. But while he was bringing him back to his senses, little Missy was gone. The police told him that a maniac was operating in the district, kidnapping little girls. Later, Missy’s bloody dress was found in an abandoned cabin high in the mountains.
Mack woke up near his mailbox, where he had recently fallen. There is snow all around, a letter in his hands. He decided to find out from his neighbor, the priest Willy, whose stupid joke this was. He replied that he had not written anything. Mac decides to go to the cabin and talk to this mysterious “dad”. He gets there and walks in holding a gun. Seeing old blood stains on the floor, the man exclaims: “Well, come out, coward! I didn’t even let her be buried like a human being!”
Mac’s family on vacation. Frame from the film.
Seeing that there is no one in the hut, Mack becomes desperate. He decides to commit suicide. With the words: “Forgive me,” he points the gun at his head. And then he is distracted by a deer, peering through the door. Going outside, Mac sees a man in the distance and hides, holding a gun at the ready. But the stranger turns to him: “Mac, let’s go. I’ll light the fireplace. Someone will be glad to see you.”
Poppy follows a stranger and finds himself in a paradise forest – there are flowers and greenery around, birds sing, a hut stands in a clearing. Inside, he is met by the same neighbor from childhood, who treated him to a pie. But Mac doesn’t remember her.
She introduces herself as God and says: “This is my son, and this is Saraya, which means breath.” A woman, a boy and a young girl are standing in front of him. To his question, “Which one of you is God?” they answer in unison, “We.”
Mac is amazed. He thinks it’s all a dream and doesn’t want to wake up. The hut dwellers talk to Mack separately. With the hostess or God, the conversation does not add up. Mac blames her for what happened to Missy and cannot forgive her. With her son Jesus, he quickly became friends. To his question “Why is it so easy and calm for me with you?” Jesus replied, “Because I am a man.”
Sumire Matsubara as Saraya, Octavia Spencer as Papa, Sam Worthington as Mack and Abraham Aviv Alush as Jesus Christ. Frame from the film.
Mack admits that Jesus is not at all like the Bible and religion in general. Then he replies: “Religion is a burden. She complicates everything. I don’t want slaves, I want to see friends.” Sitting in the boat, Mac sees the dark sludge drown him. Jesus says that this evil is within himself and he must be freed. In the end, once Mac fully trusts Jesus, he starts walking on the water and is saved.
Saraya represents the Holy Spirit. She invites Mack to work together in the garden. They enter where there is a riot of various beautiful plants, but they are all randomly scattered around. Mack exclaims, “What chaos! But it’s beautiful.” They, along with Saraya, are digging the ground to plant a “rare plant in honor of the holiday.” Saraya says, “This chaos around is you, Mac.”
Next, Mack goes with Jesus deep into the forest. The Lord tells him: “Go on along this path, you must overcome this path alone.” Mack goes forward, rests on a mountain, then goes right through it. Inside, a woman sits on a high throne. This is Wisdom. She gives Mack the idea to become a judge for a while and analyze human actions, decide who to punish and who to pardon. The main character agrees.
Wisdom shows him his father, who beats him and his mother, and asks: “Is he guilty?”. Mac replies, “Yes.” Then Wisdom shows a little boy who is severely beaten by his father, and asks: “Is he guilty?” “No!” replies Mac, “He’s just a poor kid. He is not to blame for anything. I will not judge him.” “But you have already condemned him,” Wisdom says, “This boy is your father. He beat you to somehow drown out his own pain from childhood.
Wisdom gives an explanation to Mack that evil is constantly happening in the world, and God cannot interfere in everything, sometimes he must simply reconcile. There is evil, it cannot be denied. If you start judging everyone – criminals, their parents, their relatives up to the first generation, then this way you can exterminate the entire human race.
Holy Spirit in the garden. Frame from the film.
At the end of the meeting, Wisdom shows Mack a large flower field and children running around it. Missy is among them. She is happy, she laughs, Jesus plays with them. Wisdom says: “She is well. As good as it gets”. Mac asks, “Did she forgive me for not saving her?” “She doesn’t blame you,” Wisdom replies, “Nan and Papa too.” Mack stands under the jets of a waterfall, pain, fear and guilt leave him.
He returns to the hut and speaks with God, asking for forgiveness. God, Jesus and Saraya lead him into the field. There Mac meets with his father and forgives him. The next morning, an elderly man wakes him up. This is God and his new appearance has a hidden meaning. He says that Mac should forgive the criminal who killed Missy and that Dad should be next to him at this difficult moment.
Inside the mountain, they find the girl’s body. They wrap her in a white veil, then put her in a coffin and bury her in the Garden of Eden. Saraya pours Mac’s tears into the ground, and a large and beautiful tree grows in this place. They then all ask if Mac is ready to go home. He says he’s ready.
Mac wakes up in the middle of a cold hut. He gets into the car, drives along the highway, and suddenly he is hit by a truck. Waking up in the hospital, he sees his friend Willy, followed by Nan and the children. Willie says he was hit by a car as soon as he left the house. Mack retorts, “No, I was in the cabin! I spent the weekend there! “You didn’t get there,” the friend replies. Mac tells his wife that he saw God and Missy, conveys the content of their conversation. She says she believes him.
Returning back to his family, Mack realized that all this time he had been drowning in his own pain and did not see how his loved ones were suffering. He talked to Kate and said that he did not consider her to blame for the death of her sister. It turns out that the girl reproached herself and suffered all this time. He confessed how much he loved her, and she finally calmed down.
The explanation for the ending is obvious: Mack began to live differently – the pain let him go. He allowed himself to be happy, like a child, to enjoy every minute spent with his family.
The meaning of the ending of the film The Shack is that a person sometimes has to go a long and difficult path to liberation from some kind of burden – grief, despair, guilt, fear. But if you truly trust God, and in fact, trust yourself, then everything will work out.
You can’t carry pain in yourself through life, it blocks a person’s energy, does not allow him to receive and give love. You need to be able to forgive and let go even the worst thing that happens sometimes in life. Mac was able to do this and was reborn, becoming happy.
The meaning of the film
This is not the first film about the meeting of man with God. But definitely the first one in which the Lord is shown so fully – in the form of a description of the Holy Trinity, three people, each of whom has his own features.
God or the Pope is kindness itself in its full understanding. But you can’t get clear answers from him to questions, no matter how much you ask them. Jesus is a friend, the closest and most understandable, with whom it is easy to communicate. The Holy Spirit or Saraya is a sweet girl, all woven from emotions, colors and different moods. It soothes and heals spiritual wounds.
Frame from the film.
The essence of the film is that on Earth, good and evil exist side by side. And this cannot be changed. But, despite the tragedies and pain, you need to be able not to drown in them, but to continue to bring light to people and believe that God is always there. You can’t judge, just suffer in silence, because it’s pointless, unproductive, it’s a dead end. At the end of the film The Shack, the hero, although it is not easy for him, gets out of the trap of his own anger and becomes a real support for his family, a loving husband and father.
- Where Dreams May Come, USA, 1998. After the death of two children, Chris Nelson dies himself and ends up in Paradise, which looks like a fairy-tale world invented by his wife.
- The Lovely Bones, USA, UK, 2009. Susie Salmon is brutally murdered by a maniac. After death, he watches over his family and his killer from Heaven.
- “Letter of Mercy”, USA, 2010. Having lost his son, police officer Mac McDonald cannot get out of depression. He sees meaning only in alcohol and does not notice the suffering of his wife and youngest child until he meets the priest Sam on his way.
- “Nine Days”, USA, 2020. An unexpected interpretation of the Bible. A hermit living between two worlds decides whether this or that soul is worthy to move into the body of a child on Earth.