In the film A MONSTER CALLS, Conor O’Malley (played by Lewis MacDougall) wrestles with the reality of losing his dying mother (played by Felicity Jones) with the help of a monster (played by Liam Neeson). Join us as we discuss plenty of Christian themes and so much more in this episode of the Finding Christ In Cinema podcast.
For your convenience you will find each podcast segment at the time referenced below:
- 00:00:00 – Introduction and Previous Episode Recap
- 00:03:53 – Movie Discussion
- 00:24:49 – Christian Themes in A MONSTER CALLS
- 00:27:58 – Listener Feedback
- 00:38:16 – Christians Themes Continued
- 01:02:38 – Upcoming
A Monster Calls with Parables and Heals with Confession and Repentance
Conor O’Malley is like the waves that crash on his world’s rocky and tumultuous shores. Being bullied at school and being the only child of a broken home, Conor is in a state of genuine affliction. His only solace is his dying mother, and he doesn’t want to do anything to push her away – not even be truthful about his conflictual feelings regarding her sickness.
For reasons unbeknownst to him, a Monster has decided to visit Conor. This Monster hides in the form of a yew tree during the day and visits Conor via his dreams at night. The Monster’s mission seems strange at first: tell Conor three stories and then make Conor tell the fourth. And as if the Monster already knows Conor’s untruthful habit, he stipulates that Conor’s fourth story must be “true.”
As the Monster tells his stories, it becomes more and more clear how apocryphal and revealing they are. The Monster uses stories in the same way that Jesus used parables (as Jesus himself describes in Matthew 13). While the film may not completely explain what the Monster’s stories mean (Jesus didn’t fully explain all of his parables either) – one theme is abundantly clear: “humans are complicated beasts,” as the Monster reasons.
While the Monster’s stories do have some effect on Conor, they don’t heal his Mum. It’s at this point when the Monster reveals his deeper mission: that he didn’t come to heal Mum but instead to heal Conor. In a fiery fit of rage, Conor accuses the Monster of lying. How ironically fitting that the Monster’s stories ultimately push Conor to confess his own sin of untruthfulness. Conor’s truth – the conflictual stone that he’s carried in his heart for so long – is that he wants his mother to pass on. He wants her pain to end, but he wants his own pain to end even more.
He believes that this desire is worthy of the deepest punish; he would rather die than confess. He doesn’t see how he can be so selfish and still love his Mum. The Monster, however, helps him understand that both are okay. Humans are, indeed, complicated beasts, and Conor learns that it is okay to have these two contradictory feelings and for both of them to be true. This is the kind of confession and ultimate healing that is encouraged throughout Scripture, and it’s a powerful moment in the film.
Once Conor’s heart of stone has been replaced with a heart of flesh via confession and the healing that follows, he is able to repent of his sin of not being honest with himself and others by…well, being honest with himself and others. As the Monster encourages him, he can feel confident in telling the truth about his feelings. He is ultimately then able to spend the last moments with his Mum as a burden-free son.
The Monster used stories to soften Conor’s heart. Once his heart is soft, he confesses his sin and is healed. It is then easier for him to repent and walk in the light. May it be so with us. Always.
Finding Christ In Cinema is the show where we discover Christian themes in movies past and present. Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today. Brought to you by the Great Commission Transmission Network. View the complete show notes – including links to articles discussed – by clicking here.
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