After finishing The Grey, a deep disappointment settled over me. That was not the ending I had expected. Where was the miracle? Where was the light at the end of the tunnel? Once more Ottway had gone into the fray, into the last great fight he had ever known, and lived and died on that day**. The miracle that he had been hoping for never happened, could never happen, because God did not exist.
The Gray is a movie about a group of seven plane crash survivors who struggle to survive in a cold, hostile environment, their morale and numbers rapidly dwindling with each passing day. One night they huddle around a campfire, desperately trying not to freeze to death while warily eyeing the darkness that is teaming with blood-thirsty wolves, just beyond the firelight’s reach. The wolves had already killed two of them, and now there were only five men left.
Unable to sleep, they begin talking about God. Talget believes they have survived the crash for a reason, that perhaps it is God’s will that they suffer through this. Diaz on the other hand, the notorious trouble-maker of the group, vehemently disagrees, calling God a “fucking fairy tale.” The men who died didn’t go to heaven. They simply ceased to exist. “I’ll tell you where they are. They’re not, that’s where. They’re nowhere. They’re gone.” He won’t admit that he is deathly afraid of the wolves, afraid of dying.
The protagonist, Ottway, agrees with Diaz. He wishes he could believe in God but can only believe in what he can see and feel. “This is real. The cold.” He exhales a cloud of white smoke. “That’s real, the air in my lungs. Those bastards out there in the dark stalking us. It’s this world that I’m worried about, Talget, not the next.”
It isn’t until the end of the story, when Ottway is the last survivor, that he finally comes to the end of his rope and calls out to God. Exhausted, he collapses onto his knees and looks up at the pale wintry sky, shouting, “Do something. Do something, you phony prick fraudulent motherfucker. Do something! Come on! Prove it! Fuck faith! Earn it! Show me something real! I need it now, not later. Now! Show me and I’ll believe in you until the day I die, I swear. I’m calling on you!” Only the silence of the forest greets him, and after a long pause: “Fuck it. I’ll do it myself.”
He realizes no one is coming to save him. He is now truly alone in the wilderness, hunted by wolves, his death imminent. He comes to a stop, unable to take another step, both physically and emotionally exhausted. Hearing footsteps in the brush and low growls around him, he suddenly notices he is kneeling in the wolves’ den, the very place they had all been trying to avoid. The irony is almost laughable, the disappointment and despair so poignant. What a cruel twist of fate!
When God does not exist, the world becomes a very dark and unforgiving place. The only hope we have is in ourselves and our ability to change our present circumstances. The only life we have is in the present. Death is final. There is no afterlife, no hope for eternity. They say that belief in God is a crutch for the weak, a feel-good drug.
But I can’t believe this is all there is. If God does not exist, what is my purpose in life?