The Good Book of Bad Movies

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The Good Book of Bad Movies

How some movies use faith as a shield - or a shortcut.

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Great article, but i must say that making angels the "bad guy" in the film is sort of a good idea. with horror movies, you WANT to make the audience fear the mundane and exotic. You can't get much more mundane/exotic than making the very people that are servents to god in some way evil. Sure, it may be silly of me to think that way, but isnt that usually how good horror films do it? Take Psycho for example: the whole time we are lead to believe that a man is terrified of his mother because she is a psychopathic killer but

I just think that things like that make excelent chemistry for a film.

its clearly a short cut, if it was a shield there would be more focus on exploiting the main points of the faith. by using it a shortcut, the writers can skip doing the work of introducing a backstory and character types. take a look at some of the better films in the last few years, most either use the shortcut and are criticized for it, or are deemed brilliant and original.

just sayin'

What really gets me is not people putting heavy pro-religious styles in films to make them sell. Much more I hate them removing negative pseudo-religious messages from established stories that could have made a kick ass trilogy of films (Read His Dark Materials/Golden Compass here) Dont know about anyone else but I fucking loved those books and have stoutly refused to see the film because all of the religious references were removed so fox news wouldnt give it bad press!

Why is religious (specifically Christian) content written into film and all other media? Not so much because the audience is largely religious (specifically Christian) as much as that the Western world is religious (specifically Christian) and, thus, the creators of said stories are. Gibson did not film The Passion because we are Christian; he filmed it because he is Christian.

As with any theme or device, you can find Christianity used poorly and well, but the theme is not so much to blame as the writing itself. Attacking a movie for using Christianity to inform its story is like attacking a movie for being based on a comic book. The source has nothing to do with the quality of the movie; the writing does.

Furthermore, I personally did not see anti-Semitism in the Passion. If it were explicitly anti-Semitic, the Jews would have nailed Jesus to the cross themselves. Gibson showed the Jew do exactly what they did in the written version: force the hand of the Roman governor, but it was still a Roman hand that did the beating and nailing. As Gibson said, "The Jews did not kill Christ; I did." That message appeared pretty obvious throughout the film.

Hey, great article and agree with most of it, except the part about what C.S. Lewis did with Narnia (I read the hell out of the books as a kid lol). It wasn't quite an allegory. It was more along the lines of him seeing what would happen if he stuck Christ, or a Christ figure, in another universe. The books are suppositional. I found this quote below:
"If Aslan represented the immaterial Deity in the same way in which Giant Despair [a character in The Pilgrim's Progress] represents despair, he would be an allegorical figure. In reality, however, he is an invention giving an imaginary answer to the question, 'What might Christ become like if there really were a world like Narnia, and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as He actually has done in ours?' This is not allegory at all."
-Lewis in a 1958 to a Ms. Hook (don't know who that is, sorry)

Had you stated THIS in your review of the book of Eli instead of "The Bible?! BOooooooo!" and ranting on about it in a manner that was both unnecessary and poorly supported in the context it was provided, then I don't think you would have received the criticism you did.

There is a difference between critical analysis of something and just straight bashing it because you dislike it. Sometimes that line might become obscured or so hard to see that a person can't cross it, but it's there. To be honest a review of a movie that actually turned out to be pretty darn decent to many people when you looked PAST the religious undertones (or overtones depending on your particular perspective) should have remained in the context of the FILM, but instead you scarcely touched on any OTHER aspect of the film. This aided the impression that you didn't like the movie because it was the kind of film someone of faith might walk away from feeling slightly inspired to continue believing in a God you do not believe in.

But we can all consider such thing, teachable moments. Disagreeing on a subject does not give one carte blanche to ignore or even insult the importance of said subject to others. One can be diplomatic in these things while still maintaining your own personal beliefs and exercising free speech.

I suppose one could call it "tact".

There's nothing wrong with this, technically, though it does tend to lead to lazy storytelling (see: The Book of Eli.)

Glad to see I'm not the only one who thought that plot twist at the end of that particular piece of crap was this. I honestly didn't buy into the only thing that could have possibly made that plot twist plausible, and, well, for me at least I felt the end of Book of Eli had 'cop-out' written all over it.

The rest of the movie was spent wondering if I had really seen what I thought I had. I didn't entirely get the biblical 'subtext', but it definitely led to lazy (and for my money, intelligence-insulting) storytelling.

As for Legion, I plan on seeing that for myself, but I expected it to be a run-of-the-mill action movie waaaaaaay back in November, so this honestly isn't so much of a shock.

This article to me seems as if you're giving us a reason for your horrible review of Book of Eli. Fact is, it wasn't a good review.

Also, have you ever heard the story of Joan of Arc? Specifically the version Luc Besson made? Well the story (it's also true history) is about a young girl who leads the French army against the English because she has received a message from God.

Here's the thing about Luc Besson's version, he leaves it up to interpretation. Was she chosen by God? Or was she a mad zealot who imagined the whole thing?

The same could be said for The Book of Eli albeit more subtle. Every action of "faith" he takes can either be explained away as "God used him" (which is the interpretation you're sticking to tooth and nail) or he is lucky/skilled/a hero.

HERE'S MY POINT: Arguing a movie is not critically good because of your personal interpretation of events that take place is redundant to argue. They are your interpretations. You should have spent more time considering things that are universal such as cinematography, acting, writing, etc instead of only talking about one aspect...your interpretation of the theme.

I'll ironical not talk about movies here (because I pretty much agree with you on The Book of Eli(which is sad because Mila Kunis deserves much better roles)) but I'd like to disagree on one thing you said here:

Playing through Bayonetta recently, I find myself wondering if the details of her being a witch at war with agents of God will make people take the game's batshit silly narrative as some kind of serious commentary on misogyny in patriarchal faiths.

I don't know if you played the whole way through, but one sequence near the ending is pretty much hinting (actually, it's really in your face) at patriarchal faiths. I'm having a good day analyzing the narrative of that game and I think that there is a lot to say about it, even through its seemingly crazy plot. To quote my movie critic teacher: "The intention of the author is not everything, you have to analyze what the object is telling you on its own."

HyenaThePirate:
Had you stated THIS in your review of the book of Eli instead of "The Bible?! BOooooooo!" and ranting on about it in a manner that was both unnecessary and poorly supported in the context it was provided, then I don't think you would have received the criticism you did.

There is a difference between critical analysis of something and just straight bashing it because you dislike it. Sometimes that line might become obscured or so hard to see that a person can't cross it, but it's there. To be honest a review of a movie that actually turned out to be pretty darn decent to many people when you looked PAST the religious undertones (or overtones depending on your particular perspective) should have remained in the context of the FILM, but instead you scarcely touched on any OTHER aspect of the film. This aided the impression that you didn't like the movie because it was the kind of film someone of faith might walk away from feeling slightly inspired to continue believing in a God you do not believe in.

But we can all consider such thing, teachable moments. Disagreeing on a subject does not give one carte blanche to ignore or even insult the importance of said subject to others. One can be diplomatic in these things while still maintaining your own personal beliefs and exercising free speech.

I suppose one could call it "tact".

i gotta admit, you make an excelent point. I dont really believe in religion, but i didnt really like the review of Book of Eli either.

benbenthegamerman:

HyenaThePirate:
Had you stated THIS in your review of the book of Eli instead of "The Bible?! BOooooooo!" and ranting on about it in a manner that was both unnecessary and poorly supported in the context it was provided, then I don't think you would have received the criticism you did.

There is a difference between critical analysis of something and just straight bashing it because you dislike it. Sometimes that line might become obscured or so hard to see that a person can't cross it, but it's there. To be honest a review of a movie that actually turned out to be pretty darn decent to many people when you looked PAST the religious undertones (or overtones depending on your particular perspective) should have remained in the context of the FILM, but instead you scarcely touched on any OTHER aspect of the film. This aided the impression that you didn't like the movie because it was the kind of film someone of faith might walk away from feeling slightly inspired to continue believing in a God you do not believe in.

But we can all consider such thing, teachable moments. Disagreeing on a subject does not give one carte blanche to ignore or even insult the importance of said subject to others. One can be diplomatic in these things while still maintaining your own personal beliefs and exercising free speech.

I suppose one could call it "tact".

i gotta admit, you make an excelent point. I dont really believe in religion, but i didnt really like the review of Book of Eli either.

I didn't read it as god-bashing or even bible-bashing. I read it more as MovieBob is saying using religion as a basis for the moral ground in a story is lazy. It's an easy way to set up "protagonism" and antagonism against a set of actions/people. We're spoon fed right and wrong in some manner, and I feel a lot stories are lazy and just boring because of it.

I believe there is no right or wrong, just actions waiting to be interpreted a certain way. Certainly many actions against me or others I would not like, but I would have to set my reasons for believing in what and why. That's good story telling.

Like in avatar, the culture of the people (both humans and Na'Vi) is explained, quickly and not too much in depth, and both sides of the issue are seen. There is an obvious conflict of interest, and the audience is left to side with whomever they choose (of course it's biased towards the Na'Vi). Imagine adding the Human religion into it? The divine right to take over the Na'Vi's land.

Imagine the difference in story then. It could have been a really lazy way to make the Na'Vi evil without explaining any real reason why.

Perhaps the context is a bit weird that I used it in, but adding religious reasons to hate/disagree with something is lazy. It's faith-based hatred, and anything faith-based (in my opinion) is just ignorant/hokey as a total basis of story telling.

The creator of Neon Genesis Evangelion, an anime which uses TONS of Christian terms, even admits he uses the terms just because they SOUND COOL. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neon_Genesis_Evangelion_(anime)#Religion Yet people analyze the heck out of it, lol.

HyenaThePirate:
Had you stated THIS in your review of the book of Eli instead of "The Bible?! BOooooooo!" and ranting on about it in a manner that was both unnecessary and poorly supported in the context it was provided, then I don't think you would have received the criticism you did.

There is a difference between critical analysis of something and just straight bashing it because you dislike it. Sometimes that line might become obscured or so hard to see that a person can't cross it, but it's there. To be honest a review of a movie that actually turned out to be pretty darn decent to many people when you looked PAST the religious undertones (or overtones depending on your particular perspective) should have remained in the context of the FILM, but instead you scarcely touched on any OTHER aspect of the film. This aided the impression that you didn't like the movie because it was the kind of film someone of faith might walk away from feeling slightly inspired to continue believing in a God you do not believe in.

But we can all consider such thing, teachable moments. Disagreeing on a subject does not give one carte blanche to ignore or even insult the importance of said subject to others. One can be diplomatic in these things while still maintaining your own personal beliefs and exercising free speech.

I suppose one could call it "tact".

exactly

dead_rebel:
Also, have you ever heard the story of Joan of Arc? Specifically the version Luc Besson made? Well the story (it's also true history) is about a young girl who leads the French army against the English because she has received a message from God.

Here's the thing about Luc Besson's version, he leaves it up to interpretation. Was she chosen by God? Or was she a mad zealot who imagined the whole thing?

Dustin Hoffman made a pretty good Satan in that movie.

But yeah, it's not the source material that's to blame, it's the writer. When people make religious based movies, they take the easy way out by saying, "God is good, the Devil is evil and that's that". They don't look at the individual characters and what makes them tick.

Satan as a character is horribly simplified in movies. He's always depicted as a fist-shaking angry man instead of the corrupted and clever trickster that he is in the bible.

And isn't the new Coen brother's film, a Serious Man, sort of a retelling of the book of Job?

It's a pity that religous faith be used, as you say, to attract "heat" to material that doesn't ordinarily deserve it, or to the lend the appearance of depth and meaning to a story where it is otherwise not in evidence. But I have to say it would also be a pity for creators of popular media to shy away from doing so merely for the fear of having such things alleged of their work.

Movies especially, which have a limited amount of time in which to carry off their stories, often rely on a quiet kind of "shorthand" to carry off certain elements without having to burden the audience with heavy-handed narration or exposition. Sometimes this is well done, and other times, admittedly, it becomes even more ridiculous than the narration/exposition would have been. But these are tools in the toolbox- the holy symbol driving back the monster identifies the nature of the conflict; the chanting in the background can create either a sense of reverence and solemnity or dread, depending on the chanting and other aspects of the setting. It isn't all inherently about religion, per se; the holy symbol thing has as much to do with a pop-culture fixation with vampires going back to Bram Stoker.

Movies like Eli and, I guess, Legion are more blatant about these things, to be certain. I wonder if it might not be healthy if the appearance of such things in popular culture makes people a little more willing not to take them quite so seriously. If you believe in God and think He has no sense of humor, you need to take a look in the mirror some time.

for me religion is an easy answer for a hard question

but using them as movie characters etc just seems kind of lazy as you already have conflict, characters and a plot, but that's just me i dunno

thenamelessloser:
The creator of Neon Genesis Evangelion, an anime which uses TONS of Christian terms, even admits he uses the terms just because they SOUND COOL. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neon_Genesis_Evangelion_(anime)#Religion Yet people analyze the heck out of it, lol.

There are a lot of instances of directors saying something contradictory about a beloved piece of fiction.

- George Lucas with all the midichlorian stuff in the Star Wars prequels.
- Ridley Scott, saying that Decker was actually an android in Blade Runner.

Just because they've created it doesn't mean they have the final say in it's context. As soon as someone releases a movie/show/comic into the world it belongs to the world.

dead_rebel:
This article to me seems as if you're giving us a reason for your horrible review of Book of Eli. Fact is, it wasn't a good review.

Also, have you ever heard the story of Joan of Arc? Specifically the version Luc Besson made? Well the story (it's also true history) is about a young girl who leads the French army against the English because she has received a message from God.

Here's the thing about Luc Besson's version, he leaves it up to interpretation. Was she chosen by God? Or was she a mad zealot who imagined the whole thing?

The same could be said for The Book of Eli albeit more subtle. Every action of "faith" he takes can either be explained away as "God used him" (which is the interpretation you're sticking to tooth and nail) or he is lucky/skilled/a hero.

HERE'S MY POINT: Arguing a movie is not critically good because of your personal interpretation of events that take place is redundant to argue. They are your interpretations. You should have spent more time considering things that are universal such as cinematography, acting, writing, etc instead of only talking about one aspect...your interpretation of the theme.

This and...

Since when is throwing God into a story lazy? Since when is throwing anything into a story lazy? People turn into zombies because they were infected by a virus. Is that going to be considered lazy now too? Or how about the evil mastermind behind some grand scheme to rule the world? Is that considered lazy as well? I don't understand where this sense of "laziness" is coming from anymore, and frankly I'm quite tired of hearing about it.

I have an interest in the matter, as a trying-to-be-devout Christian looking forward to a career in church ministry and theological lecturing.

I think Bob's 100% right that films use popular tropes (topos, as it were) to hook audiences. The new Transformers series has used childhood nostalgia, big explosions and tits to make up for an enormous vacuity, appalling morality and narrative abombination. Some other films use religion, or gratuitous violence, or child abuse, or whatever - an emotive or exciting issue - to lend weight to a thin plot.

Bob, in this article (though not consistently elsewhere), recognises that religious material and conviction can provide the basis for fantastic literature and film (contra Martin Amis). Lord of the Rings is the other very obvious example of an evidently Christian story, written by a devout Christian. C.S. Lewis' science fiction trilogy is similar, and Chesterton's Father Brown and Peters' Cadfael both tie the faith of the detective and the situation closely together (cf especially Brown appealing to Flambeau to change his ways). Religious feeling has motivated some of the greatest poetry of all time - Donne, early Wordsworth, Browning, Eliot, to name but a few English language poets.

It genuinely seems a healthy, sincere faith is a creative thing, not something that calcifies, and certainly religious material, from Greek mythology to Christian Scripture, seems able to inspire great works by those who don't necessarily believe. But what about films? Is it somehow uniquely inappropriate in films to wear your faith on your sleeve? Or is the Exorcist's indebtedness to Christianity ONLY to the sociological background of the Satan concept?

Well, no. The Exorcist is about, amongst many other things, a struggle for self-worth and understanding of the world in the face of doubt, and the redemptive epiphany of self-sacrifice in the face of true evil (the Truest Evil, you might say). The Stone Table scene in the new The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe film is heartbreaking and redemptive not because of some strictly humanist perspective, but because of the theological narrative facts involved. And so on.

(Also, to call the West a religious milieu borders on the ridiculous. Europe is very secular and America is about the least Christian country I can imagine, in so many ways. Having a religious heritage is like having a heritage in mining - it means you know some half-remembered things about it, but doesn't make you a miner!)

Yikes are you still whining about book of eli bob???
:P

Wait. Why would a story about an evil angel blow your mind? Isn't that what Satan's always been?

Once again, I have found my thoughts presented preemptively by others, and probably more succinctly. OwenEdwards, Dead Rebel, and Hyena the Pirate, I salute you.

Bob, I would add one thing: although there was a certain lunatic fringe in the dissent to your review of BoE, you seem to have focused solely on them, rather than upon the reasonable and earnest contrary views. The bottom line for most of us, I think it's reasonable to say, was not that we were disappointed you panned the movie, but that you over-focused on one particular aspect and used it to beat the movie to death with it; that over-focus on the Bible/religious aspect made it seem (to me at least) that once you were exposed to that aspect, it spoiled your ability to approach the rest of the movie critically, which is your job. I really didn't get very much useful information about the rest of the movie out of your review, and since I don't share your opinion on the calamity of using the Bible and faith as a viable plot device (at least not when there isn't a religious agenda driving the inclusion of those elements, and I highly doubt you can say that the Hughes Brothers are evangelizing with this movie), your review was a complete waste of my time. THAT was the point.

ANYway. Back OT, I appreciate your point of view, and you make some very reasonable points, even if I think you're not really trying hard enough to consider how someone outside of your particular demographic would view these sorts of things.

And man, the story about The Passion explains SOOOooooo much.

I just look at faith/power of god in the same way I look at having the force or magic in a story, its just there and it does what it wants, if your not into it then don't go see the movie, its like having someone who hates magic saying that LOTR was bad because Gandalf was a story shortcut for a lazy writer, either accept it for what it is in the script or leave it alone

Quick question, as my thoghts in use of religion have been better stated, you have made numerous refrences to Halo throughout your reviews, specifically how shitty it is. I wish to know if you have actaully played or, or are
coming at it with the same apparent baud that you do with films using religion ( Specifically Christianity). Just something I was wondering.

dead_rebel:
Here's the thing about Luc Besson's version, he leaves it up to interpretation. Was she chosen by God? Or was she a mad zealot who imagined the whole thing?

The same could be said for The Book of Eli albeit more subtle. Every action of "faith" he takes can either be explained away as "God used him" (which is the interpretation you're sticking to tooth and nail) or he is lucky/skilled/a hero.

Problem is, no one would ever be as lucky as he would have to be unless God were actively supporting him from the get-go. And when God is an active participant, wave bye-bye to dramatic tension.

Mr.Pandah:
Since when is throwing God into a story lazy? Since when is throwing anything into a story lazy? People turn into zombies because they were infected by a virus. Is that going to be considered lazy now too? Or how about the evil mastermind behind some grand scheme to rule the world? Is that considered lazy as well? I don't understand where this sense of "laziness" is coming from anymore, and frankly I'm quite tired of hearing about it.

I think "throwing" something into a story is not the same thing a PUTTING it in. "Throwing it in" implies not that it is an important element, but that it's tacked on, either as a cheap way to bring heat to a story that doesn't have any, or as a cheap way of getting around creating interesting characters. When your answer to every question about why we're supposed to root for this guy is "Because God told him to do what he's doing," that's the very definition of a Designated Hero. And while I admit there is a BIT more going on in The Book of Eli than just "He's the good guy because he's doing God's work and that's all there is to it you heathen," this article isn't just ABOUT that one movie. It's about how "It's about God" is used as a crutch in a zillion works of fiction out there.

Bob,

A central theme in your critiques and articles is that your are a person who appreciates the succint transmission of ideas. As such, you really ought to know better.

I really enjoy your writings and reviews, but your link ("interesting" feedback) merely takes us to the comment page of the Book of Eli. I refuse to read all 351 (at this time) comments on your review of this movie, and a scan of the first and last page shows nothing out of line. Provide us with examples of what you feel is so over-the-top. If we want to see if the comments you produce are representative of the feedback as a whole, those of us who are so inclined can look at the comments page for that review ourselves.

Now, On Topic:

I do agree that shoehorning Judeo-Christian stories and themes into a story can often generate an insulting result. I'm a white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant Christian from the Southeastern United States, but I frequently find the insertion of the Christian faith into stories where it isn't appropriate incredibly uncomfortable.

There is a huge difference between an artist exercising their talent with their religion as inspiration and an evangelist trying to push a message by trying to hide it in art. The first generates amazing and moving works. The second generates empty-feeling kitsch that cheapens the very message the idealogue is attempting to spread. An example of this is the vast majority (not all, flame-throwers!) of the Christian popular music industry.

What bothers me most is that I feel that many of the movies we're seeing now are produced by a third category to which Bob alluded in his video review of Legion. This is the person who is not an inspired artist, and not a misguided evangelist, but an exploiter who wishes simply to ride the devotion or scorn of the faithful to notoriety. Once you get the name of a film out there, and people see it as something inspiring/edgy, you're halfway to getting their butts in the seats of the movie theater. That is profoundly cynical, not just from a religious perspective, but also from an artistic one.

Let me quote from that review that Bob linked in this article:

"The Book of Eli" isn't just Christian, it's off-the-rails Christian...literally. Heathens might as well hit the lobby at the end of the second act because the final act is all about the faith. You're more than welcome to stick around, but I have a feeling those of you with red strings tied 'round your wrist will be checking your watch for the last twenty-minutes.

But make no mistake, this is a genre film. A B-film (with kind of a silly final twist). No molds are broken. You've seen it all a hundred times before. But this is a Christian genre film...a very Christian genre film with a fabulous cast and stylish direction.

I'm not sure that it's a problem of lazy story-telling as such, but if you're relying on something that only a very specific portion of the audience can relate to, don't be suprised if everyone else dislikes it and percieves the movie as bad.

I find myself wishing I had used my ten minutes more wisely than wasting it reading an article poopoo about how there aren't enough superjew movies. To put it in perspective how many WWII and holocaust films assume you already know about all the holocaust? Are they produced lazy writers? Some maybe but not because they assume you already heard about the holocaust and for that matter wtf was the deal with Avatar not once do they explain what space is. F^^&&** laxzy writing if you ask me.

More specifically your thought on the Christian thing. Hmm where was this movie produced? OH America? LOt of christians there? I didn't notice. Look, India makes movies where its assumed you get the whole "I need to dance!" thing. Korean films assume you like depressing movies. Belgian films assume you..want to watch Belgian films??

Anyway it's not lazy writing it's the demographic. You haven't reached some profound level of understanding Cinema. Get over it if you hate movies which assume you don't know what angels are look to I don't know New Zealand? The kiwis are a bit more closed off culturally. I mean no offense they're the better for it.

thenamelessloser:
The creator of Neon Genesis Evangelion, an anime which uses TONS of Christian terms, even admits he uses the terms just because they SOUND COOL. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neon_Genesis_Evangelion_(anime)#Religion Yet people analyze the heck out of it, lol.

You have to remember that Neon Genesis Evangelion was designed to fail so the same could probably be said about the whole series.

On topic, what was it about Book of Eli that made it worse than Daybreakers?
And was that praise or criticism for Narnia to say it bases itself in Christianity?

Religion as a shield, as a plot device, and as a motive does not make the best of storytelling. Introducing flaws in what should otherwise be conceived as a good vs evil approach by twisting rebelliousness into those that should be following the all-encompassing good and inspiring doubt in them that their ever-enduring leader might be wrong in some regards? Now that's storytelling. One's inclined to remember at this point that for all of the Messengers (that's Angels for those that don't know that that's what it means) that God had once upon a time, head among them at God's side was the leader of the rebellion, and he brought with him many of the Messengers. Should there be such things as 'evil angels'? Well, in terms of how the normal Angels are viewed--YES! There's angels on both sides, folks, and they tend to look identical.

Axolotl:

On topic, what was it about Book of Eli that made it worse than Daybreakers?

Superior cinematography, more ambitious setup, people turning into giant bat-monsters and Sam Neil.

And was that praise or criticism for Narnia to say it bases itself in Christianity?

Let's call it "observation" in this particular case, though otherwise I'm quite fond of Narnia even while recognizing that Lewis is using it to work through some... "interesting" psychological hangups, or at least appears to be.

OwenEdwards:
I have an interest in the matter, as a trying-to-be-devout Christian looking forward to a career in church ministry and theological lecturing.

I think Bob's 100% right that films use popular tropes (topos, as it were) to hook audiences. The new Transformers series has used childhood nostalgia, big explosions and tits to make up for an enormous vacuity, appalling morality and narrative abombination. Some other films use religion, or gratuitous violence, or child abuse, or whatever - an emotive or exciting issue - to lend weight to a thin plot.

Bob, in this article (though not consistently elsewhere), recognises that religious material and conviction can provide the basis for fantastic literature and film (contra Martin Amis). Lord of the Rings is the other very obvious example of an evidently Christian story, written by a devout Christian. C.S. Lewis' science fiction trilogy is similar, and Chesterton's Father Brown and Peters' Cadfael both tie the faith of the detective and the situation closely together (cf especially Brown appealing to Flambeau to change his ways). Religious feeling has motivated some of the greatest poetry of all time - Donne, early Wordsworth, Browning, Eliot, to name but a few English language poets.

It genuinely seems a healthy, sincere faith is a creative thing, not something that calcifies, and certainly religious material, from Greek mythology to Christian Scripture, seems able to inspire great works by those who don't necessarily believe. But what about films? Is it somehow uniquely inappropriate in films to wear your faith on your sleeve? Or is the Exorcist's indebtedness to Christianity ONLY to the sociological background of the Satan concept?

Well, no. The Exorcist is about, amongst many other things, a struggle for self-worth and understanding of the world in the face of doubt, and the redemptive epiphany of self-sacrifice in the face of true evil (the Truest Evil, you might say). The Stone Table scene in the new The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe film is heartbreaking and redemptive not because of some strictly humanist perspective, but because of the theological narrative facts involved. And so on.

(Also, to call the West a religious milieu borders on the ridiculous. Europe is very secular and America is about the least Christian country I can imagine, in so many ways. Having a religious heritage is like having a heritage in mining - it means you know some half-remembered things about it, but doesn't make you a miner!)

Cadfael's entire premise for becoming a monk was to atone for his actions in the crusades. In a way, he was trying find Christianity for himself. He is post-change but parts of his old life pop up in places...such as his son.

However it is a case where religion makes sense. Medieval England was in many ways run by the church, so setting wise it works. I agree with Bob that in many cases religion is used as a prop for actual setting or character development. There is a large difference between tropes such as in Lord of The Rings and blatant use of Christianity such as in Legion.

That being said, the Christian-Right will attack or support anything based on their view of Christianity. I find it a horribly sad state of affairs that their Christian moniker holds despite blatant contradictions and hypocrisy.

HyenaThePirate:
Had you stated THIS in your review of the book of Eli instead of "The Bible?! BOooooooo!" and ranting on about it in a manner that was both unnecessary and poorly supported in the context it was provided, then I don't think you would have received the criticism you did.

There is a difference between critical analysis of something and just straight bashing it because you dislike it. Sometimes that line might become obscured or so hard to see that a person can't cross it, but it's there. To be honest a review of a movie that actually turned out to be pretty darn decent to many people when you looked PAST the religious undertones (or overtones depending on your particular perspective) should have remained in the context of the FILM, but instead you scarcely touched on any OTHER aspect of the film. This aided the impression that you didn't like the movie because it was the kind of film someone of faith might walk away from feeling slightly inspired to continue believing in a God you do not believe in.

But we can all consider such thing, teachable moments. Disagreeing on a subject does not give one carte blanche to ignore or even insult the importance of said subject to others. One can be diplomatic in these things while still maintaining your own personal beliefs and exercising free speech.

I suppose one could call it "tact".

This now that I understand what you were really trying to get across and why you disliked Book of Eli I don't feel like defending it's religiousness.

Some of its story telling could have been done better, like, and I didn't really see the whole "God's side vs. Satan's side" the same way you did.

W/e I still enjoyed it...I liked it better than Daybreakers anyways....Could have done without the last 3 minutes of it where the chick walks off with all of Eli's gear.

MovieBob:
Superior cinematography, more ambitious setup, people turning into giant bat-monsters and Sam Neil.

Fair enough, I disliked Daybreakers because it's action scenes hid the actual action making them confusing to watch, and it's obsession with people exploding. I saw Book of Eli's trailers and it looked like a similar film with better action and Post Apocalypse vibe and wondered what separated them.

Let's call it "observation" in this particular case, though otherwise I'm quite fond of Narnia even while recognizing that Lewis is using it to work through some... "interesting" psychological hangups, or at least appears to be.

Well Lewis was inspired to write the Narnia books because of his conversion to Christianity. And whilst he got really hamfisted towards the end they wouldn't exist without his religious inspired passion.

Also it's worth noting that the person who converted Lewis to Christianity was none other than J. R. R. Tolkien.

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