"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to all people, and to set the captives free." Isaiah 61:1
In their grand explosive finale, the producers at Disney have finally given us a very spiritual conclusion to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise with its third installment, At World's End.
But contrary to the advertising and buzz, the hero to watch in this story is not Captain Jack Sparrow (wonderfully played by Johnny Depp). Sure, Captain Jack is on his way to a hero's journey; but the real one you'll want to watch is Will Turner (Orlando Bloom). Like any good hero story (including the many we find in the Scriptures), the one whom destiny has chosen comes from the sidelines, not center stage. So while Captain Jack might entertain us for a few hours on screen, the true miracle of Pirates of the Caribbean lies with the handsome swordsmith from the first film.
"Destiny awaits you," declares vodoo priestess Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris) to Turner in the second movie, Dead Man's Chest. But so what? Will Turner does not want destiny; all he really wants is to redeem and free his imprisoned father Bootstrap Bill (Stellan Skarsgard) and spend the rest of his days in love with Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightly). Destiny, as he sees it, is something he doesn't really care about - all he wants is happiness for others.
Ironically, the very people in this film who want power are the ones for whom destiny has forgotten. Captain Barbossa (Geoffery Rush), Admiral Norrington (Jack Davenport), Davy Jones (Bill Nighy, underneath the tentacles), and especially Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) all crave power over others; all eventually will lose it.
Destiny has a funny way of choosing those who don't choose it. The prophet Isaiah among many other prophets tried to escape their destiny, but God has a funny way of choosing people like that.
Near the end of Isaiah's magnificent work, he reflects on his life and all those who are destined for true greatness: "the Spirit of the Lord is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to all people, and to set the captives free." (Isaiah 61:1). If we, like Isaiah, the prophets, and blockbuster heroes like Will Turner, keep our eyes focused on freeing the captives and bringing good news to the poor and brokenhearted, God's grace will be upon us.
What makes a real hero? Ironically, one who doesn't even really he or she is a hero. Will Turner's goal in this perhaps-too-long third film is to simply free the captives (his dad) and love the brokenhearted (Elizabeth); but in the end, this selfless devotion to a higher good is what makes him the real hero of this story. And in a Christ-like allusion near the very end of the movie, Turner ends up doing more than save a few souls - he is able to save the world (well, perhaps just the Caribbean).
This summer, perhaps I need to be concerned less with being a hero like the ones in the movies, but rather be concerned with bringing good news to the poor, saddened, hungry, poverty-striken, alienated, margainalized, beaten down, meek, and grieving. Who knows? Perhaps that is just what it takes to be the real hero.