Tuesday, November 20, 2007
In Which I Write About Movies and Controversy and Religion Beliefnet had a list of the Ten Most Controversial Religious Movies so I thought I'd go ahead and write about the list. I know, not very exciting. Sorry. I was sick in bed all day yesterday and, trust me, unless you think reading about my having diarrhea is exciting, this is far more entertaining than anything I could say about yesterday. 10. The Exorcist When this movie came out I was only about 9 or 10 years old and I begged my mother to let me see it. She wouldn’t but she did let me read the book. I read it more than once. I even bought a book that had still shots (in black and white) from the movie along with the script. Horrifying! Eventually I saw the movie as a teenager while babysitting for a family who had cable television. I was alone. The special effects, music, etc. were definitely creepy but maybe seeing it on the small screen was not enough to scare me or maybe I just focused on the theme of the book more than the average movie go-er would have and I was more interested in the priest’s personal spiritual struggle than the gross special effects. When the movie was re-released with its added scenes I was disappointed that these scenes had been removed mostly because they furthered the development of the novel’s theme, including the bizarre image of Regan skittering down the stairs like an insect. (This deleted moment, btw, was/is perhaps the most frightening of them all!) 9. Dogma Alanis Morissette as a flower child, cartwheel turning, god? Not just any god but The God of The Bible? I was perhaps predestined to like this movie. This was only my second Kevin Smith movie, believe it or not, and is still a close second as my favorite. I can see why it is controversial. What I don’t see is why religious people don’t have a better sense of humor. Also, I just like movies about falls from grace and redemption. 8. Battlefield Earth I honestly didn’t know that this movie was supposed to be a type of creation myth linked with the Christian Science belief system. I thought that the movie was simply based on one of L. Ron Hubbard’s many science fiction novels. It is tempting to watch this tediously dull movie one more time just to get the full meaning of the story’s background. However, I watched it when I was first struck down with vertigo and although I managed to not fall asleep I just kept thinking that it was all so ridiculously ponderous. I wonder of Hubbard’s novels are as tedious to read? 7. The Birth of a Nation Never saw it. Never will. I remember watching D W Griffith’s movie about the crucifixion, The King of Kings. Both the silent and sound versions. I preferred the silent one, believe it or not, probably because of all the eye-fluttering, broad gesticulation, and scenery chewing. After I learned about The Birth of a Nation I had a hard time watching (with any pleasure) his movie The Ten Commandments. I suppose the problem is not that such a movie was made but that there are people still around who truly believe that the KKK can be heroic and solve our nation’s problems if only the Jews and Blacks would stop controlling the media. *sigh* (And if you read into this last sentence any implication that I agree with the KKK's teachings then please stop reading my blog.) 6. Stigmata I still have not seen and truly want to see this movie. When it first came out I was very curious about it and remained so even as the controversy developed. Usually controversy causes me to lose interest but the idea of an atheist being given the gift of stigmata is so intriguing to me that I still wish I could catch this on television. Unfortunately it was not so popular as to ever be aired except at ungodly hours or, perhaps, on cable which I do not have. I know one day I'll break down and get Netflix but I have not yet finished watching the dvds I already have at home and so . . . 5. The DaVinci Code Another one in which I have absolutely no interest. I wasn’t interested in the book. I am even less interested in the movie, although it would take me less time to sit through the movie than it would the book so I suppose if I were forced at gunpoint to do one or the other, I could be forced to watch the movie. But I would still resent it. 4. Water I had never heard about this movie, nor the controversy surrounding its production, until I read this list. After reading about it, I would be very interested in seeing this film about Indian widows forced into prostitution. Sad and historically accurate. 3. The Passion of Christ When this movie was released there was an outcry from the Jewish community. I remember that. I remember not knowing if I wanted to see it or not and ultimately decided to wait until it came out on dvd. Then I still chose not to see it but for very personal reasons. I have gone to many sermons in which the preacher/minister/whoever teaches some lesson or other. I have also gone to some services where it seems the sole purpose is to get people emotionally stirred up to confess their sins, give money, etc. effectively turning a spiritual matter into psychological and/or emotional manipulation. That is what this movie is to me . . . a means of manipulation. The times I have seen someone truly teach are rare, precious, and too few. 2. Submission I had never even heard of this film until reading through the list. Probably because it is a ten minute documentary. Nor had I heard about one of the directors being murdered. I do not wish to see it mostly because I am aware of many of the abuses women suffer under any fundamentalist religion. That this one focuses on Islam is fine. Too bad the documentary was not expanded to include other spiritual path’s patriarchal condoning of “submission” as an excuse for abuse. 1. The Last Temptation of Christ Oy do I remember the controversy around this one! I still don’t get it but it reinforces how easily swayed people are when you tickle their emotions rather than approach them with reason. This was as movie that was based on a novel and yet I heard teacher after teacher accuse this movie of attacking Christianity. Assuming that the story of Christ is 100% accurate, the book was merely a novelization with added details and hypothetical situations. Christians didn’t cry out against the bastardization of The Ten Commandments and yet there is Moses being tempted by a married woman, something that is never described in the Bible, and yet nobody even blinks at that. You know why so many people take other novels like The DaVinci Code so seriously? Because so many Christians seem threatened at the very idea that Christ could be tempted to have sex. Forget that the Bible says he was tempted in every way. But then I forget, this is not about intellectual stimulation but psychological and emotional manipulation. Oh yeah . . . I never saw that #1 most controversial movie either. Sorry. Got on a soap box and got distracted. These controversies are so pointless.