Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the most surprising email I’ve received today.
Warning: If you haven’t seen The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, beware!
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It disappoints me to find no reviews, in either the mainstream or Christian press, that point out the excellent allegory supporting the story of Steve Zissou. The movie is about what happens to a man of faith in a society dominated by nonbelievers.
Steve is a modern, comic version of St. Stephen, the early Christian martyr put to death for asserting his beliefs to the Jewish religious court.
Surely, it was no accident that the film was released on December 25, St. Stephen’s Day. References abound. St. Stephen was stoned to death; Steve was just stoned…although we see him getting stoned in the critical sense early on as movie patrons react badly to his film. St. Stephen is the patron saint of horses; Steve gives a seahorse to a little boy.
Steve’s minisub resembles a sleigh, another symbol of St. Stephen.
The major symbol of Steve’s faith in God is the jaguar shark. This kind of shark doesn’t exist; one can only believe it exists. Steve’s able to go after it because he believes Ned, source of funding, is his son. He refuses to kill it so as to create a crowd-pleasing film. Surely, he’s headed for more stoning. His moment of finding the shark and NOT killing it is, structurally, the climax of the film.
I’d like to see the film again. I’m sure there are other allegorical elements. Who are the figures in the painted backdrop in the theatre scene? Inquiring minds want to know.
So, young film critic… go slap yourself on the forehead.
Interesting thoughts. But this letter would have been much more enjoyable if these insights could have been shared without the suggestion that I go punish myself for not already knowing this information. If the writer had been more respectful, I’d have given him some credit. I grew up in a conservative Baptist community, and I might suggest that the writer go slap himself in the forehead for not realizing that I did not receive any kind of education regarding saints and their stories. But I was taught to speak the truth in love, so I’ll refrain from the condescension and snark.