The Lady in the Van or The Snake in the Garden

I watched recently on Amazon Prime the 2015 movie The Lady in the Van. This film was obviously produced to the highest standards. The actors were of the highest caliber. The scenes were exquisite and the production quality, the best in its class. Artistic talent was not left for want in this film. 

Maggie Smith, A Master of her Art

The movie is centered around an unhappy vagabond old woman and her benefactor. Loosely based on the true story of Margaret Fairchild, there is no doubt that much artistic license was used in the creation of this fanciful story line. 

The main character who is truly the writer of the story is meant to be a protagonist, but in truth of which this film has no connection to, is that he is an antagonist. In the true story, Alan Bennet had allowed this cantankerous woman to live in his driveway with her van for fifteen years. In this movie, there is no doubt of the twists and turns taken to fit modern narratives and themes to get the support needed to make such a cruel film. 

Basing what I write here from what I saw in the film and some research, I would like to bring to you my take-aways as we often call what we learn at educational business meetings from the film. 

The first is that the film is a veiled malicious attack on the Catholic Church and the faith. Its careful nuance is to project the Church as being puritanical and uncaring. First by intimating that Ms. Fairchild’s mental illness was caused by her being told not to play piano while undergoing discernment for vocation to focus on prayer. It imputes this to be some sort of punishment when it was most likely meant as a discipline which enables one to be less selfish and more attentive to the needs of others. This is a very necessary trait to be able to live in a small, closed community with other people which is called a convent. The fact that she was difficult would indicate that she may already had begun to suffer from some mental illness, and it was beginning to manifest itself. The scene in the film where a nun viciously shuts the piano, though theatrically effective, is questionable at the least. 

The second, the implication that in confession she would have heard that her desire to play piano may be a window for the devil is something puritanical. The Puritans were a sect of the Church of England which began after its separation from the Roman Catholic Church in the sixteenth century. As any student of music would know, the Roman Catholic Church has always supported and promoted the use of beautiful music to elevate the soul to the worship of God. Hence, her musical talent would not be ascribed to the devil, but her selfishness and lack of discipline may have been. This again to cast a dark view of the one true faith. 

Then continuing in its same path of lies, the writer and producer paint the nuns to be uncaring and vicious because of Ms. Fairchild’s past insubordinate behavior after she becomes ill. This is ignoring the fact that local nuns did assist in her care though she was not in their community. Also, ignoring the truth that the Catholic Church on a whole does more for the sick, elderly and dying than any institution on the earth. Most importantly, it does it with love and sacrifice. The works of St. Teresa of Calcutta are but one small example of the many works of this blessed institution. 

The movie ends with the death of Ms. Fairchild. The author uses this event to mock, almighty God, the assumption of Mary and the existence of Heaven with a scene where the deceased asks of him to write a glorious ending to her life. The interesting point is what it really points to is the unhappy life that the writer lives, knowing full well his internal twisted unhappy existence, which he cannot accept when faced with truth. So, to reject truth, he needs to destroy God. This is oldest of stories, since beginning of creation and the fall of mankind from grace in the Garden of Eden. 

How did evil and death come into this world? It was with the rejection of truth which is given to us by God mostly embedded in our hearts but also through scripture and tradition. All those who reject His words of good will live-in a constant state of misery while those who work at perfecting virtue find true peace and love in their lives. In this film, the author is in no way a character any human looking for joy would want to emulate. And I thank the makers of this film for raising my thoughts to see through the smoke of Satan for the lies that they are. 

Author: Guillermo Miguel Perez-Santalla

A businessman with a passion for sharing the good news that still exist in this world.

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