The English Patient

The movie ‘The English Patient’ has long been one of my favourites. It has one scene relating the story of Candaules and Gyges.

The Ring of Gyges features in Plato’s Republic as does his famous allegory of the Cave. It was not until I had seen the film ‘The English Patient’ quite a few times that the Cave scene at the end drew me to consider the connection.

What struck me was the fact that the English Patient movie (and book, I presume) was making a textual link as the movie is based around the cave theme. I had never considered the link in the movie between the Herodotus account of Gyges and the cave connected to ‘Plato’s cave’. I’ve looked online and the book plays around with lots of intertextuality so it seems likely to me that the author, Michael Oondjate, was aware of it.

The soundtrack of the movie is magnificent…I stumbled across it once as someone had left it behind. I never found out who bought the CD but it has been a rich blessing for me. Quite beautiful.

I suppose that a quote from David’s Psalm 142 when he was in the cave would be appropriate, but I have chosen a verse from the ‘Revival Psalm’ 85.

“Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.” (Psalm 85:10).

Ray Ortlund Jnr has a wonderful chapter on Psalm 85 entitled ‘God reinvigorates us’ in his book ‘Revival sent from God’. Ray writes:

“Is it not striking how these great principles are portrayed as if they were living beings? We see his love and faithfulness. They come together. They engage in glad recognition. His righteousness and peace also appear. They greet with a kiss. They touch in tender affection. Our season of discipline is over. The truths of the gospel now unite in meaningful and endearing reality. We experience God’s unfailing love and salvation (vv 7 and 9), his peace (v 8) and glory (v 9).

‘Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven.’ (v 11).

Revival purifies the church, but not by sterilising the church. Revival purifies us by making us fruitful in the Spirit. Luxuriant faithfulness to God ‘springs forth’ among us where before sin had grown rank. The infestations of sin naturally choke out a proper response to God. But he is able to draw up out of his people a new harvest, a new quality, a new ethos, favouring all that pleases him.” (Ortlund, p 55).

As I reflect on Ray’s words, it seems to me that the church today might identify with being abandoned and left in a cave. Especially in our season of discipline. But our hope remains ever sure…for our Saviour is Risen. He has not forgotten his bride…he is able to bring ‘a new harvest’. Praise be to God.

Leave a Reply