Thursday, February 04, 2010

Million Dollar Baby

I wrote this to explain why I liked the movie Million Dollar Baby.  I posted it on my MySpace account but I deleted my account so I wanted to make it available again to the public at large.

If you haven't seen the movie and plan on it, DO NOT READ THIS! It will spoil the movie.
 First of all Million Dollar Baby is not about the death of Maggie.  It’s about the death of Frankie.  But you say Frankie did not die.  Yes he did, I will explain. 

"If there's magic in boxing, its the magic of fighting battles beyond endurance, beyond cracked rips, ruptured kidneys and detached retinas. It's the magic of risking everything for a dream that nobody sees but you."

Million Dollar Baby is a fairy tale about a man in search of redemption. Here is a quick synopsis of the movie by Brandon Valentine. "Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) is a long-time boxing trainer and gym owner, who in an attempt to both find answers to his questions and help ease his guilt and pain from his estrangement with his own daughter, attends Mass services daily. After losing his prized fighter to another, more go-getting, trainer, Frankie soon encounters a 31 year-old female boxer named Maggie (Hillary Swank), who wants him to take her under his wing. Frankie initially balks at the idea of training a girl, but after much persistence and dedication from Maggie, and some convincing from his long-time pal, Eddie "Scrap-Iron" Dupris (Morgan Freeman), Frankie eventually agrees to train the girl. From then on, Frankie works with Maggie, the poor Southern-born waitress with an ambitious attitude, on her uphill climb to superstardom. In the process, an undividable bond forms between the three."

Maggie is injured in a boxing match and paralyzed. As a quadriplegic, she tries to take her own life but the Doctors prevent her. She pleads with Frankie to do it for her but he refuses. Frankie tires of seeing her suffer so he talks to his Priest. 

The Priest says, "Frankie I've seen you at mass almost everyday for 20 years, the only person that comes to church that much is the kind that can't forgive himself for something. Whatever sins you carry is nothing compared to this, forget about God, or heaven and hell, if you do this thing, you'll be lost somewhere so deep you'll never find yourself again."

With this in mind, Frankie does it anyway. It’s the last and final act of a man desperately seeking redemption. In taking Maggie’s life, he is taking his own. He pays the ultimate price for someone he loves. John 15:13 "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Frankie sacrifices himself for someone who is more than a friend Maggie is like a daughter. In a letter written to Frankie’s daughter, Scrap says, "Frankie never came back at all, Frankie didn't leave a note, and nobody knew where he went, I'd hope he'd gone to find you, to ask you one more time to forgive him, but maybe he didn't have anything left in his heart. I'd just hope he found some place where he could find a little peace, a place set in the cedars and oak trees, somewhere between no where and goodbye, but that's probably wishful thinking, no matter where he is I thought you should know what kind of man your father really was."  Frankie knows he has lost his soul, so in a sense he goes off to die. The very last scene we see him sitting in the same cafĂ© where Maggie had taken him for the best lemon pie, which Frankie referred to as "heaven."

But we can't forget the return of Dangerous Dillard. Danger is a skinny weakling with no talent to speak of. Earlier in the film, he is dropped off near the gym by his sister’s boyfriend who then leaves and never comes back. Danger, like the rest of the characters in the movie, has no one. He talks big and says he is going to beat the Motor City Cobra to become the Welter Weight Champion of the World. One of the guys training at the gym beats Danger up pretty bad. The hurt is more emotional and Danger disappears. He does not return until the very end. Scrap narrates, "...a ghost came through the door. 'I got to thinking what you said Mr. Grant.’ ‘And what was that Danger?’ ‘Anybody can lose one fight.’ ‘That's the truth, go ahead and put your clothes on, you missed a lot of training.’ ‘Will do Mr. Grant, sure thing.'" The return of Danger symbolizes a rebirth and completes the circle of the story. The movie does a full revolution. With death we have birth and with birth we have life.