Christian Movie Interviews, News and Reviews

4 Lessons from the Feel-Good Film Blinded by the Light

  • Michael Foust
4 Lessons from the Feel-Good Film <em>Blinded by the Light</em>

Javed is a teenage boy of Pakistani descent living in 1980s Great Britain.

He has big dreams of being a writer. His traditionally-minded father, though, wants Javed to chase a more well-paying career, because, well, “writing isn’t a job.”

Javed’s life grows even bleaker when his dad loses his position at General Motors, forcing Javed to abandon his aspirations and find any type of work that will help feed the family. Add that to the frequent racism Javed encounters, and his future seems hopeless.

“We were born in the wrong time, in the wrong town, in the wrong family,” he tells his sister.

But then a friend introduces Javed to the music of Bruce Springsteen. And then Javed’s outlook on life grows more positive. And then he learns the Boss himself will be playing near his city.

Can the music of a rock singer from New Jersey inspire a British-Pakistani boy in Luton, England? Maybe.

The feel-good film Blinded by the Light (PG-13) opened this weekend, starring Viveik Kalra as Javed and Hayley Atwell (Peggy Carter in the Marvel films) as his teacher.

It was inspired by a true story and features everything children of the 80s will love: new wave hairstyles, wild-looking cloths and Rubik’s Cubes. And, of course, the music of Bruce Springsteen.

Here are four lessons from the film:

Photo courtesy: Warner Bros.

1. Music Is Powerful

1. Music Is Powerful

Music conveys emotions. It inspires us. It moves us. It lifts our spirits. It changes attitudes – often, for the better. It also crosses cultural boundaries.

That’s how God designed it. In the Old Testament, God commanded the Israelites to “sing praises to him” (Psalm 105:2). In the New Testament, God commanded the church to sing and make melodies “to the Lord with your heart” (Ephesians 5:19). 

In Blinded by the Light, we watch as Javed grows discouraged with his life in Luton, England. His family is struggling financially. His father opposes his goal of being a writer. Everywhere Javed walks, he encounters racists who hate him because of his skin color. Then a fellow British-Pakistani introduces Javed to the music of Bruce Springsteen, a white man from New Jersey whose songs about working hard, holding onto your dreams and facing life’s trials encourage Javed. It’s a turning point in his life. 

“It’s like Bruce knows everything I’ve ever felt,” Javed tells his friend. “... I didn’t know music could be like that.” 

Photo courtesy: Warner Bros.

2. Musicians Have a Responsibility

2. Musicians Have a Responsibility

Sure, it would be best if young people didn’t essentially worship popular singers. But they do.

Javed develops his worldview from Springsteen’s songs. Sometimes, that’s good. (They inspire him to work hard and stay optimistic.) Sometimes, that’s bad. (He sings a Springsteen tune while disobeying his father by staying out too late.) 

Perhaps Javed was misapplying the lyrics of the Boss, whose songs stand out for being socially conscience. 

But too often, modern music is filled with lyrics that can shape the listener’s view of the world for the worst. And often, such a worldview is unbiblical – no matter how catchy the song sounds.

 

Musicians may be trying to “just make a buck,” but their songs are sung by millions. Yes, parents have an even greater responsibility, but not every child has a mom and dad.   

Photo courtesy: Warner Bros.

3. Racism Is Real… But Can Be Overcome

3. Racism Is Real… But Can Be Overcome

Living in a predominantly white country, Javed and his family look different. They often dress different. As Muslims, they go to a mosque, not a church.

Blinded by the Light reveals the racism faced by Pakistanis and other ethnic minorities in the United Kingdom. 

A member of the National Front (NF) party paints an outdoor sign reading “Pakis Out” – and then chases and spits at Javed. Later, we see a similar sign painted on his family’s garage. We watch an elementary-aged boy urinate through the front door mail slot into a British-Pakistani family’s home. We also learn a pig head was hung near a mosque.

Javed’s father – wanting to protect his family from physical harm – doesn’t fight the racists. Instead, he urges his family to ignore them.

Javed, though, is bolder than his dad. He gets a job at a newspaper. He critiques the racists with the power of the printed word. He also wins a writing competition. 

 

“Writing is for English people,” his father tells him. Javed proves otherwise. 

Photo courtesy: Warner Bros.

4. Children Need Supportive Parents

4. Children Need Supportive Parents

Blinded by the Light is a coming-of-age story with a clash-of-worldviews plot. 

Javed’s parents are traditional. They believe in arranged marriages. They affirm a tight family bond. The father’s views are paramount. 

Yet Javed is more western. He wants to marry a girl he loves. He believes he can embrace his family and chase his dreams. He loves his father but remains frustrated with his dad’s opposition.

His teacher – impressed with his poems – encourages his writing career: “You have a gift,” she says, explaining that he has a “responsibility” to use his talents for the greater good.

The situation grows more complicated when Javed’s father loses his job, forcing every member to pitch in to help feed the family.

Still, it’s painful to watch the father belittle his son’s God-given talents and squash his dreams.

Thankfully, the film gives us a redemptive and happy ending.

Content warnings: Blinded by the Light is rated PG-13 for thematic material and language including some ethnic slurs. It includes minor language (Three instances of s--t, two OMGs and one misuse of “Jesus”), minor sensuality (three or four instances of teens kissing and one implied makeout scene) and minor violence (men punch one another on the street). It also shows Javed and his father having a major argument.

Entertainment rating: 3 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 3 out of 5 stars. 

Related:

4 Things You Should Know Today if You Plan to See Yesterday Tomorrow

 

Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.

Photo courtesy: Warner Bros.




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