“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”
The Fault in Ours Stars continues a tradition that has been seen from John Hughes’ Sixteen Candles all the way to Diablo Cody’s Juno; teens who sound more like middle age people while trying to deal with the rigors of high school. From the mind of popular teen author John Green come Augustus and Hazel who are not only trying sail the waters of adolescence but do so with cancer. The Fault in Our Stars strives to be anything but typical while at the same time using many familiar cliches. Girl meets boy, they fall in love and are separated, except this time one of them dies. The thing that sets this movie apart are the performances of Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort. They truly do sell the romance and the plight that these characters find themselves in. Where the film falters is in not allowing for more genuine expression. Augustus and Hazel sound more like philosophy majors much of the time and the authenticness of their views falls flat because of it. While the movie is good, there is something that is missing to make it truly a classic.
The Death of Hope
“There will come a time when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does.” – Hazel
This movies’ philosophy on life is bleak. Hazel and Augustus have rejected that there is truly any meaning to life and are left to deal with their pain and misery all on their own. There is absolutely no hope for them to hold to; their worldview has ruled any such thing impossible.
There is an interesting scene in the movie where Hazel and Augustus are in Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam. In the background there is an audio version of Anne’s diary playing. It creates a fascinating dichotomy between these teens. Our films protagonists are cancer patients in the prime of life, arguably a horrible situation. Anne Frank was a young Jewish girl sent to a concentration camp where she would die at the age of fifteen. What is astounding is the difference in her view of the world as compared to Hazel and Augustus’.
“Where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.”
“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” – Anne Frank
What Hazel and Augustus are facing is horrendous, yet nothing compared to the nature of Anne Frank’s suffering. One has hope that see’s her through the worst that life has to offer and the others have nothing concrete to hold on to. They find each other but as the film so deftly points out, even that is fleeting. And if there is not meaning, no higher purpose and oblivion is all that awaits, connection between humans can never be enough. The Fault in Our Stars is one of the bleakest and most depressing movies that has ever been made for teens and in the end, the fault lies not in the stars but in the philosophy of oblivion. Thank God there is hope,
Mystery and Victory I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:50-55 ESV)