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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Good Times Remix

The Big Chill (1983) on IMDb

Plot Overview

“The Big Chill” (1983) is a bittersweet variation on John Sayles's directorial debut, “The Return of the Secaucus Seven”, about a reunion of some radical friends. Seven from U. of Mich. get together after 15 years for a few days at the posh South Carolina winter house of business­man Harold Cooper (Kevin Kline) and his wife Dr. Sarah Cooper (Glenn Close). From the song the Coopers' kid belts out in the bath, “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night, we gather they're strongly rooted in the 1960s. These one time revo­lution­aries are now 1980s yuppies, aging hipsters, a TV star & a lonely wife, not to mention the cop who pays them a visit or the once rising star Alex Marshall (Kevin Costner)—“He went out with a bang”—who won't be paying any­one a visit any­more, but his much younger girl­friend Chloe (Meg Tilly)—“his funeral and she's stoned”—is now available.


This reunion follows along the lines of a psalm: (Psalm 33:10) “The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect.” As the speaker at Alex's funeral intones, “Some­times it is hard for us to believe that the good Lord had a plan, and this is one of those times.”

(Psalm 33:11) “The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.” Maybe the idealism of these friends has fallen by the wayside, but the advice former radio host Nick Carlton (William Hurt) once gave Chloe who'd called in, at age 15, over concerns of being a pervert still stands. He told her not to worry, “as long as I did my home­work and went to bed on time.”

(Psalm 33:12) “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.” At least they have a shared musical heritage. “Harold, don't you have any other music, you know, from this century?”

(Psalm 33:13-15) “The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men. From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth. He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works.” The speaker at the funeral spoke of “the bonds we feel.”

There is one specific incident that stands out in stark relief, especially since the movie does not include the back­story of how these people had been living together on a commune in their U. of Mich. days, and so were uncommonly adept at sharing. Former public defender Meg Jones (Mary Kay Place) has a ticking biological clock, and she hasn't been able to find a man worthy to father the child she now wants to have.

They're either married or gay. And if they're not gay, they've just broken up with the most wonderful woman in the world, or they've just broken up with a bitch who looks exactly like me. They're in transition from a monog­amous relation­ship and they need more space. Or they're tired of space, but they just can't commit. Or they want to commit, but they're afraid to get close. They want to get close, you don't want to get near them.

Here she has some other options, none of them workable … except one likely candidate with good genes … but he's married to her other friend. The denouement is best under­stood when we consider their sharing ethic back on the commune.

Seeing this movie might help us think the unthinkable when we consider that the eight people, i.e. four couples, on Noah's ark were in a commune of sorts. Here in the winter house we have seven friends and one outsider. Let's look again at Noah's story (Jasher 5:14-17):

And the Lord said unto Noah, Take unto thee a wife, and beget children, for I have seen thee righteous before me in this generation. And thou shalt raise up seed, and thy children with thee, in the midst of the earth; and Noah went and took a wife, and he chose Naamah the daughter of Enoch, and she was five hundred and eighty years old. And Noah was four hundred and ninety-eight years old, when he took Naamah for a wife. And Naamah conceived and bare a son, and he called his name Japheth, saying, God has enlarged me in the earth; and she conceived again and bare a son, and he called his name Shem, saying, God has made me a remnant, to raise up seed in the midst of the earth.

Shem and Japheth were full brothers, Noah's son Ham was born at a later date (the youngest, see Gen. 9:24) perhaps from a different mother. Noah's wife was older than he was. Perhaps at 580+ years she was no longer able to bear children after the first two. She didn't have any more after the flood, even though it was a time to repopulate the earth. Maybe she stopped bearing long before the flood. Ham was likely the half brother of the other two, a brother from another mother. The possibility exists that Noah's wife shared her husband with a younger woman to achieve one more offspring. Perhaps with a slave girl.

(Jasher 5:34-35) “In his five hundred and ninety-fifth year Noah commenced to make the ark, and he made the ark in five years, as the Lord had commanded. Then Noah took the three daughters of Eliakim, son of Methuselah, for wives for his sons, as the Lord had commanded Noah.” That ark was an awfully big project for the four of them to complete in five years. Maybe they used slave labor. Ham was likely the son of a slave girl. According to (Prov. 29:21) “He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become his son at the length.” Noah would have been bringing him up delicately to have him become a full son at the end.

After the Flood there was an incident, Gen. 9:20-22, where Noah got drunk on wine and was exposed in his tent in all his glory to his son Ham who brazenly viewed him so. Noah's other two sons, Shem and Japheth, covered him up, Gen. 9:23. Ham had been indelicate, Gen. 9:24. Noah's curse puts Ham's youngest son Canaan in a position of servitude, Gen. 9:25. Noah's other two sons Shem, Gen. 9:26, and Japheth, Gen. 9:27, were blessed by Noah, Japheth dwelling in the blessed tents of Shem. Ham's generations would have reverted back to the servant status, as having lacked the delicacy of a full son. See (Micah 1:16) “Make thee bald, and poll thee for thy delicate children; enlarge thy baldness as the eagle; for they are gone into captivity from thee.”

Cush was also a son of Ham, settling in Africa. Cush is Hebrew meaning black. There were token blacks (children) at the funeral, probably harking back to their revolutionary days of civil rights protests over the segregation of blacks. They do, however, work out the above explanation that the Bible student may observe even if they don't.

Production Values

The movie “The Big Chill” (1983) was directed by Lawrence Kasdan. It was written by Lawrence Kasdan & Barbara Benedek. It stars Tom Berenger, Kevin Kline, William Hurt, Jeff Goldblum, and Glenn Close. It was a thoughtful story told well and well-acted. Kevin Kline excels. William Hurt & Glenn Close are dependable as usual. Tom Berenger's very good. Jeff Goldblum is most likable. Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilly & JoBeth Williams are effective in their roles.

It's rated R. It contains a whole soundtrack of pop 1960s era songs including Aretha Franklin's “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”, The Beach Boys' “Wouldn't It Be Nice”, The Temptations' “Ain't Too Proud To Beg”, Rolling Stones' “You Can't Always Get What You Want”, “A Whiter Shade of Pale”, “The Tracks of My Tears”, “My Girl”, “Take a Load Off, Fanny”, “Gimme Some Lovin'”, “When a Man Loves a Woman”, “Bad Moon Risin'”, “Wait Till the Midnight Hour”, “I Second That Emotion”, Three Dog Night's “Joy to the World”, and Marvin Gaye's “I Heard It Through The Grapevine.” Kasdan's direction is well seasoned. He had the whole cast on set for every shooting whether they were called for or not, this in order to further the group feel. Cinema­tography, editing & art design are spot on. “The Big Chill” is a well-made film in all respects.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

I liked this film very much. I enjoyed the familiar music from my 1960s days and marveled at a reunion reminiscent of my own commune's reunion(s). It's a land­mark achievement featuring heavy dialogue and a brilliant ensemble cast making it a contemporary classic for the Baby Boomers.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: A few suspenseful moments. Overall product rating: Five stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version.Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

The Book of Jasher. Trans­lated from the Hebrew into English (1840). Photo litho­graphic reprint of exact edition published by J.H. Parry & Co., Salt Lake City: 1887. Muskogee, OK: Artisan Pub., 1988. Print, WEB.