The best Super Bowl ad was the Budweiser one where a man raises a Clydesdale horse and then is reunited with him three years later.
In the space of a minute, the ad has a lovely dramatic arc. We watch the horse growing up with the man as his “dad,” and then being taken away to join the performing Clydesdales.
Three years later, the man sees a newspaper story that the Clydesdales will be in a Chicago parade, and he drives to the city and watches from the sidewalk. Unfortunately, although the man sees his horse, the horse is wearing blinders and passes right by his dad, unable to see him. It seems as if there will be only half a reunion.
But when the blinders are removed, the horse turns around and sees his dad. So strong is their bond, he recognizes him, even though the man is part of a crowd and has his back to the horse.
The man gets in his car, looking dejected, and is about to drive off, when he looks in his rear-view mirror and sees the horse galloping toward him.
The ad ends with the man’s face buried in the horse’s chest.
Which brings us to Rembrandt. If you Google “Rembrandt, Return of the Prodigal Son,” you will find images of the painting which portrays the reunion of the elderly father and his long-lost son, but here with the son’s face buried in his father’s chest.
The enduring truth, in all its pain and pleasure, of unconditional love — from the New Testament to a painting from the 1660’s to a Super Bowl ad from 2013.
What would we recognize if the blinders were removed? What would we see if we looked in the rear-view mirror?