Warning – potential spoiler alert.
I recently watched a movie called “Big Game,” starring Samuel L Jackson and Onni Tommila, which chronicles the coming of age of a young boy.
From the very beginning, I was hooked. I’ll try not to give away too many spoilers, but I was amazed at the way Jalmari Helander, the director, depicted Oskari’s (Tommila) rite of passage and how Oskari crossed paths with Moore (Jackson). Essentially, we have a classic terrorist act as the backdrop of the movie. And Oskari becomes the unlikely unlikely hero.
What captivated my attention for all 87 minutes was the parallel of Oskari’s life and passage into manhood with every one of our lives and the way we grow and mature from boys to men or girls to women. I have to admit I don’t know as much about the way it works for women, so I’ll speak mostly from a man’s perspective.
In Oskari’s culture, you go out into the woods on your 13th birthday and hunt an animal in order to show your manhood. All the men of the village send you off into the woods and wait your return with whatever animal you were able to kill during your night-long stay in the woods.
At each progression in the story, we learn more intimate details of Oskari’s growth. A book that explains this progression well is called “Fathered by God,” by John Eldridge. I highly recommend it.
But I wanted to point something out. In all cultures throughout time, we see a motif of coming of age or rite of passage. Yet, in today’s society we are increasingly unaware of the role fathers, and father figures, must play in the lives of young boys. It’s this rite of passage that helps us mature from boys who are beloved cowboys to men who are warrior kings.
The difference? A personal responsibility toward a call. We see this in Oskari as he steps up and takes responsibility for the situation in which he finds himself. The world needs people who are willing to step up and take responsibility, even in situations that aren’t their fault. And the world needs examples of father figures who can establish moral authority, confer identity, provide emotional security, and affirm potential.
What happens if Oskari doesn’t make it through this rite of passage? He misses the chance to be affirmed in his potential. He finds himself without a clear identity and lacking the correct mindset that moral issues are his responsibility. His emotional insecurity will lead him to look for opportunities to medicate rather than facing difficult situations and emerging victoriously.
I applaud Oskari’s culture and father for providing him the opportunity. I applaud Oskari’s unending passion to do what’s right regardless of the consequence. And I applaud father figures and sons who do likewise.
I have seen several rites of passage in my life. There was my first job, 8th grade graduation, my first trip overseas, model UN and Mock Trial, among others.
Have you had a rite of passage in life? What was it? What happened? Can’t wait to hear your story!