"Give up your anger and give up your wrath. Do not be provoked, for it only brings about harm." Psalm 37:8
The Wolfman is an update of the 1941 original (staring Lon Chaney, Jr., Claude Rains, and Bela Legosi), re-telling the timeless tale of a man (Lawrence Talbot, played by Benicio Del Toro in the 2010 version) who is bitten by the wolf only to become the beast on every full moon.
Underneath the mythology and Halloween masks of this remake, the movie is essentially a warning to each of us about anger.
Lawrence Talbot is an angry man, expectedly so - as one who saw his own mother moments after her bloody death and who was kept in an insane asylum in the early years of his life. Removed from his family and especially his father, Sr. John Talbot (Anthony Hopkins), Lawrence reluctantly returns to his family estate in gloomy Blackmoor, England, when his brother is mysteriously attacked by a monster.
The close proximity of father and son only strengthens the bitterness between them, despite their best attempts at reconciliation. Complicating matters is that infamous wolf bite that consumes Lawrence - and a growing suspicion from the townsfolk and Scotland Yard that he might actually be his brother's murderer.
In the midst of the chaos, Gwen Conliffe (Emily Blunt) - widowed financee of Lawrence's brother Ben - comes to calm the storm of the Talbot household. In the rising tide of anger and anxiety that sweeps father and son (and everyone else in Blackmoor, it seems), Gwen is the one who provides the movie with much-needed comfort, peace, and loving touch.
Anger can get the best of us. Controlled anger can lead to action, but misdirected anger can turn to hurt feelings, resentment, enstrangement, and even violence. The psalmist warns, "Give up your anger and give up your wrath. Do not be provoked, for it only brings about harm." (Psalm 37:8)
The Wolfman is an analogy for any of us: When our anger gets the best of us, it can consume our actions, destroy our relationships, and sometimes bring about irreversable harm.
On the other hand, we are not called to be Stoic and emotionless. People can hurt our feelings or disappoint us, bad situations can ruin our days, and failure or fatigue can frustrate all our hard work. In the Scriptures, even Moses (cf. Ex. 32:19), Nehemiah (cf. Neh. 13:25), and Jesus (cf. Mk. 11, Mt. 21, Lk. 19) are driven to a controlled, righteous anger.
But if anger leads to hatred, jealousy, bitterness, or violence, it has no place in our hearts. Lawrence Talbot allowed his anger towards his father to consume him. Likewise, his father let his anger towards his son manipulate and twist him. And when the conditions were right (in the movie's case, a full moon), the results were horrifying.
Jesus challenges us, "Whoever is angry at another is liable for judgment, and whoever curses at his brother will be liable to the fires of hell. Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar and recall that someone has something against you, leave your gift there and be reconcilied with them. Then come and offer your gift to God." (Mt. 5:22-24).
We can be angry, but not too long. We must seek reconciliation - with ourselves, with others, with the situation at hand - before the anger develops into an uncontrollable beast inside. When we leave that anger intact, who knows what might come of it?!
Let us pray that if, as we read this blog, there is something inside of us that drives us to anger - we take a moment to reconcile (in whatever way necessary) - so that the anger does not drive us to deeper pyschological issues, to unrepairable bitterness, or even to verbal or physical violence.
All joking aside, let us learn a lesson from The Wolfman: with whatever might be troubling you today... go and reconcile before the next full moon, lest it consume you forevermore.