By Phebe Meyer, Junior, College of William and Mary; Introduction by Mark Rodgers
I’ve had the privilege to work with a number of films and filmmakers over the past several years, and in a few cases as a producer (of sorts), but few have given me as much personal pleasure as working with Julio and Marla Quintana on their film The Vessel. The reviews speak for themselves, and as of today it is over 80% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. However, rather than add my own personal glowing review to theirs, I asked Phebe to give her perspective on the film, and why it will resonate with a spiritually inquisitive, but not church aligned Generation Z which is entering into adulthood with very different perspectives than my generation did at the end of the last century (which sounds a long time ago, because it was).
I come from the generation that was raised on VeggieTales and was expected to see God’s Not Dead (Part 1) in theaters. I hate to tell our parents, but we’ve “aged out.” I have to admit to them that my Christian friends and I chuckle at new Christian films and make jokes about mainstream Evangelical culture. We find ourselves frustrated with the shallowness of most Christian media and long for a day when the Church no longer glosses over the questions and issues we wrestle with. So when I watched The Vessel (directed by Julio Quintana and produced by Terrence Malik from Tree of Life), I found what I was looking for — and not just for me. For fans of the “independent” film scene (which my friends and I are now), The Vessel is a faith-infused film you can embrace.
It caught me up in a storyline that not only confronted hard questions but was accompanied by stunning and artistic cinematography. The Vessel is set in a coastal Puerto Rican town in the aftermath of a tsunami that wiped out most the town’s children. When the main character’s best friend dies and he is spared, we begin a journey that struggles with God’s sovereignty and His will.
Instead of providing pat answers to “why do bad things happen to good people?” that we are so tired of hearing, The Vessel gracefully explores a more pertinent question: “in the midst of overwhelming tragedy, how do we move forward?” And for a generation that is growing up and realizing that life is filled with hardship and mourning, that is exactly the message we want to cling to.