There are a few recurring motifs in the arts that have been around for a long time. These themes can be found in plays, poems, and songs from Homer’s works to today’s.
It is because they are generally understood, regardless of time or place, that they continue to exist. Oedipus Rex resonates now as strongly as it did four centuries before the birth of Christ thanks to these two characters:
Here are fifteen of the best movie depictions of the topic of redemption, which is one of those themes.
1. The World’s End (Edgar Wright, 2013)
The World’s End is the last installment of the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy, which follows on from Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz with the tale of a pub crawl that causes the demise of industrial civilization.
As a middle-aged man, Gary King (Pegg) is preoccupied with his school days because he hasn’t done anything with his life since then, unlike his buddies, who have all gone on to do great things in their own fields.
Reuniting with his childhood buddies at Newton Haven is the only way Gary can relive the glory days of his youth, so he persuades them to do so. They’re going to finish the pub crawl they never got around to as teenagers.
At the end of the film, it is revealed that Gary crashed a car while intoxicated and left his friend Andy (Frost) to take the blame. Gary has a lot to atone for.
While on a pub crawl, Gary and his buddies learn that Newton Haven is the center of an alien invasion, with the locals progressively being replaced with androids. When the aliens depart the planet, they destroy all modern technology, leaving humanity in a situation akin to the Dark Ages. Gary uses his rebellious childhood to stand up to the aliens.
Nonetheless, we see the characters come out on top in the end: Andy and his wife have healed their marriage, and Gary has finally found his place in the world, leading a gang of androids that is free from alien influence. The only way he can find forgiveness is by literally saving the world and making it a place where he can belong.
2. Dogma (Kevin Smith, 1999)
Clerks director Kevin Smith’s satirical theological comedy Bartleby and Loki star Ben Affleck and Matt Damon as wayward angels, and the redemption they seek is a fittingly literal one.
If the two angels succeed in returning to heaven, they will show God’s infallibility and bring about the end of the universe.
Smith’s comedic skills are on full display in this film, but it’s the supporting cast that steals the show. As a well-written, well-acted hysterical comedy that literally laughs in the face of the apocalypse, the film works when regarded as what it is: a well-written, well-acted, and hysterically funny comedy that literally laughs in the face of the end of the world.
3. The Hunter (Daniel Netheim, 2012)
For Daniel Netheim, the Tasmanian bush provides the right setting for his story of an individual at war with his conscience. Willem Dafoe plays a mercenary hired by a biotechnology corporation to track down the last Tasmanian tiger on the planet.
An strange man-versus-nature tale is unfolding in the film, with Dafoe gradually questioning the morality of his mission, especially when it brings him into confrontation with the local population.
Throughout the film, Dafoe portrays the character with a defeated weariness that grows more and more intense as his task diminishes in importance to the emotions of the local family where he is staying.
It is at the film’s devastating climax that Dafoe’s character, a man worn down by a life of violence, discovers a route out and takes it. Following his discovery of the tiger’s nest, Dafoe finds a competitor hunter, whom he kills in self-defense.
Before leaving to town to start a new life, he kills and cremates the surviving specimen of tiger, realizing that the biotech corporation will never stop seeking the tiger until they get it.
The Hunter is a stunningly beautiful film about the destructive power of humans and their impact on both environment and humanity.
4. He Never Died (Jason Krawcyzk, 2015)
As a character, Cain is maybe the most deserving. Christian mythology depicts Adam’s younger son as the inventor of murder and the first parricide. Henry Rollins plays the title character in Jason Krawcyzk’s film, which shows a more human aspect to the character.
A man who doesn’t care about anyone is brought into contact with an estranged relative (typically a youngster), and he gradually learns to care and redeems himself with an act of fatherly compassion.
However, the man in question is a Biblical character who is sentenced to an eternity of cannibalism. Here in his debut starring role, Rollins portrays his character with a wonderful blend of world-weariness and barely-contained violence, and delivers his lines with flawless deadpan humor. This is Rollins’ best performance to date.
5. Last Man Standing (Walter Hill, 1996)
It’s a reworking of Japanese classic Yojimbo (Akiraku Kurosawa, 1961) that swaps feudal Japan and samurai for prohibition-era Texas and gangsters.
For hire gunman and self-proclaimed man of no conscience John Smith comes in the border town of Jericho, where two competing gangs are fighting for control of the town.
By playing the two gangs against each other, Smith eliminates them both and makes a fortune. A hard-boiled Texas Phillip Marlowe, Smith appears in this film at its opening. He solely cares about making money in Jericho.
Despite the fact that his scheme succeeds, Smith is left penniless at the end of the film, having spent all of his money helping various women flee the city to avoid the wrath of various criminals.
This is a well-worn tale of a man who loses his heart and finds it again in Hill’s telling, and the operatic direction paired with outstanding performances from Bruce Willis and Christopher Walken makes the film a classic in its own right.
6. Tokyo Godfathers (Satoshi Kon and Shogo Furuya, 2003)
There are three homeless persons who are trying to find and return an abandoned infant to its parents in Tokyo Godfathers. For its portrayal of homeless people and the fact that one of its key characters is a transgender woman, this film has received a lot of attention.
In this article, Gin, an alcoholic and disgraced racing driver, is the most important character. In the wake of the murders of his wife and daughter, he’s turned into a bitter, abrasive man who rejects anybody who tries to get close to him—even Hana, the woman who loves him. He blames himself.
Gin, on the other hand, learns to open up to people again during his search for the baby’s parents. A classic Christmas film like Tokyo Godfathers focuses on families and the necessity of being close to those we care about, and it deals with atonement in the same way.
7. Leaving Las Vegas (Mike Figgis, 1996)
What happens when your protagonist openly rejects the concept that he can be redeemed?
To drink oneself to death, Ben (Nicholas Cage) moves to Las Vegas in Leaving Las Vegas, where he is played by Nicholas Cage. He gets rid of everything he possesses except for his car, which he drives to Las Vegas and then sells.
It seems that Ben had already decided on his own death from the start of the film. During a trip to Las Vegas, he meets prostitute Sera (Elisabeth Shue), and the two begin a relationship. In their relationship, he cannot ask her to give up her career, and she cannot ask him to give up alcohol.
When Ben contacts Sera to tell her he is dying, she returns to him and the relationship is over. The film’s main focus is on redemption because it refuses to even consider the possibility of it. His final month on Earth is a complete rejection of any offer of aid or salvation, but in that very act he urges the audience to re-examine the meaning of salvation itself.
Does falling in love redeem Ben’s life if he dies in a filthy motel bed from alcohol poisoning? If so, does this month’s meaning compensate for the lack of purpose in his former life? It’s hard to see Leaving Las Vegas because of the sense of hopelessness, yet a list of films about redemption would be lacking without it.