Don’t Look up


One bright, entertaining but frightening treat this Covid winter was the film “Don’t Look Up”.  For me the treat was President Orlean (Meryl Streep), a longtime favourite of mine, who perfectly channeled the 34th president of the United States – down to her mop of curly blonde hair.

She is the unbelieving and self-protecting antagonist to the message of two astronomers, Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio), and his graduate student, Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence), and the head of research Dr. Teddy Oglethorpe (Rob Morgan) that planet Earth is in mortal danger from a stray comet.

The president is too busy securing her elected status to worry about that.  The media also minimize the danger, and when they do come to terms with it, see only its commercial value.  The danger as only a sensational spoof.  Their advice is just “Don’t Look Up!”

Having enjoyed the “told you so” climax of the film, and later reflecting on what the scientists tried, and failed to accomplish, I was struck by the film’s Biblical echo. The two astronomers are contemporary prophets.

DiCaprio is like Jeremiah who warned the king and people of Jerusalem of the impending danger of the Babylonians invaders who will carry off the citizen to slavery in Babylon.

“Up comes the lion from his lair, the destroyer of nations has set out, has left his place, to turn your land into desolation, till your cities lie waste and empty.” (Jeremiah, 4:7) Lawrence is  his spokesperson, like Baruch, speaks out on his behalf when he becomes tongue-tied, but to no avail.

At the climax of the film Timothee Chalamet (Yule, a street person befriended by Kate) ends the film with  a prayerful response that should have come at the beginning:

“Divine Father and Almighty Creator, we ask for your grace tonight despite our pride, your forgiveness despite our doubt, and most of all we ask for your love to soothe us through these dark times with courage open to your divine will.”

Lawrence, DiCaprio and his family gathered at table answer with a resounding “Amen”.

Joseph Schner, SJ, is a professor of Psychology and Religion at the Toronto School of Theology.

  • Peter Bisson
    Posted at 09:53h, 19 February Reply

    Thank you Joe!

Post A Comment

Subscribe to igNation

Subscribe to receive our latest articles delivered right to your inbox!