The Nightingale

Yes, it’s extraordinarily brutal, but evil is brutal. We want to avert our eyes, but we live in a time when evil, which always exists, has crawled out from under a rock and is right in front of us. There are those who don’t believe that people are purely evil, but they are among us. People who have no conscience. Who don’t consider other humans to actually be people, but rather things to be used or disposed of as they wish.

On the surface it is a story of revenge. Clare, an Irish convict in Tasmania in 1825, undergoes a horrific act of brutalism by a British officer and two of his compatriots. She sets out to track that officer and the others down on a journey through the Tasmanian wilderness with the aid of a native tracker, Billy. This is based on the history of Tasmania—during the Black War, which was ethnic cleansing.

The journey is full of conflict and we see the differences between a person with a conscience and one without. We also see the various types of personality, in the form of the sergeant and others who will allow themselves to be debased and humiliated but will still serve an evil person That is something we see daily here in this country as men and women do and say terrible things in the service of an evil person all in the hopes of advancing their own careers, making money, out of fear, or simply satisfying their own dark impulses.

Note that no matter how badly the officer treats the sergeant, the man keeps serving him.

One of the enablers is someone you might not even notice, who stays in the background and doesn’t utter a single word of dialogue: the Irish indentured man who carries the supplies for the entire journey for the officer. He represents the majority of people who just go along. Throughout history the vast majority of people have allowed evil to rise because they don’t act. Just think of all of the countries who willingly shipped off their Jews, their neighbors, just so they wouldn’t have trouble.

This is a movie for our time because the original sin baked into our Constitution is coming home to roost once more and was brought out into the open five years ago and instead of subsiding is growing. For evil to win, and it looks more likely every day here in the United States, it requires the majority of us to do nothing. It’s a story about racism, misogyny, murder in the name of being the law and more.

I highly recommend this movie even though it will cause extreme discomfort in many watching. In fact, that is exactly why I recommend it. We cannot ever be comfortable when we see evil.