This is the part where I admit I haven't read the book. I started it, but like so many potential reads, I did not get far before I put it down for life to happen and never picked it up again.
So I didn't really know what to expect. I knew there was something about adultery in it (and to be honest, that always made me a little weary of watching/reading it; I'm sick of the romanticized whoredom our culture is so obsessed with). And I knew it was set in Imperial Russia. That's pretty much it.
So if you're unfamiliar with it, I won't ruin anything for you (but you should at least go see the movie). Gabe and I were really affected by it. We spent over an hour talking about it after we left the theater and we realized that what was so striking was actually the Gospel covered in 19th century fashion and splattered over salacious dialogue.
So many stories are like this.. So many paintings, songs, books, movies are colored with the Gospel. Or reaching for it. Or running from it. It's everywhere.There is a tension of suffering and joy that speaks to something in us thirsting for more. We want a love that will withstand any hardship. We want to know that the worst parts of ourselves are redeemable. We want to be connected to this Other that we sense, but can't define.
N.T. Wright put out a video about beauty and truth. He says that true beauty is when both the ugly, pitiful, shameful parts of humanity are depicted alongside the inspirational and good parts. That Truth is told when both are included. Because we live in a world haunted by the Bad. But there is Good overtaking and still coming. There is Good rising up through all the cracks in the bad.
God - our King Jesus Christ - gave us orders to be the good. We are charged with delivering the right-ness that is missing in adultery or hatred or selfishness. This idea of True Beauty is the Gospel message. That people are killing themselves for lies, but that there is a God who is actually in love with them and has made a way of salvation for them if they will just die to the lies and embrace this truth.
Gabe and I were in tears over this reality... The movie shook us as we were reminded of all the ways we have been redeemed. Of the marriage we would almost surely not have if God was not intimately caring for and constantly atoning for us. How do you know you didn't waste your movie tickets? When you leave the building reflecting on the only Love that really matters.
Like I said, I won't give anything away about the movie, but it was truly beautiful.