The movie Calvary has been a polarising event and has sparked much discussion in efforts to understand the events that took place. An attempt to provide some answers to pressing questions is given here.

Who killed the priest’s dog?

Pat the publican killed the Bruno. Evidence for this can be seen just before the bar fight where his hand holding the baseball bat handle can be seen to have a skin-coloured self-adhesive bandage on it, which is also be seen in the montage at the end of the movie when he takes a drink.

Why was the dog killed?

Pat’s business is being foreclosed on by the bank, but neither the church nor the priest has done much about the sin of usury. As the publican says, “when you have a history of screwing the jews out of their money, and collaborating with the nazis, it’s like the pot calling the kettle black.” Even after someone else burns the church, that’s not enough for the publican. That which is nearest and dearest to the publican is being taken away from him, and as such he takes away from the priest something that’s near and dear to him too.

Who set fire to the church?

Jack the butcher set fire to the church. What with revelry occurring in the pub and the butcher being unable to even have a good time there with his own wife, James the priest dancing and having a good time is just too much for him. James is supposed to be readying himself for his death in a few days time, but is instead living things up. That’s too much for Jack, who heads out to set fire to things and remind him of what’s coming.

What’s with the dream sequence about the dead creature?

The sequence is a reminder that we react to things in an emotional manner. When there’s a dead creature we become viscerally agitated and want to get away from such things. Most of the people in the priest’s community have ugly aspects to their character, and have demonstrated their contempt towards James and the church. They’ve made it clear that they don’t want the church to be involved with things there, and as such it’s tempting to take the emotional response that if you’re not wanted then you should leave.

Why did the priest walk away from his flight?

When James is about to board the flight, he looks on at the ground crew leaning disrespectfully on the coffin. Thoughts run through our own head when viewing this about why does nobody say anything to the ground crew? James realises that though he and his church are not wanted, he’s still needed there by the people. Many of them have problems and are desperate for answers or assistance, even if there is nothing that can be done for them.

Why did the priest go to the beach?

The title of the movie figures in to this one. Calvary is where Jesus Christ was crucified for our sins. Father James goes to the beach to face Jack, to answer for what other people of the church did to him. Even though we may agree that it’s wrong for the priest to be killed, through what happens with Jack we can empathise strongly with him about what takes place.