As we often do, my eldest son and I rented a boatload of movies this past weekend. He is quite the cineaste. I can always count on him for interesting facts and opinion about some aspect of the film we are watching. He is taking a film class at college right now but he's always been intrigued by movies. When he was about seven or eight years old he watched Kurasowa's The Seven Samurai with me. I was surprised but pleased that a long, subtitled, and serious film held his attention even at that young age.
We finally saw There Will Be Blood which we liked immensely. A viewing of The Mist later that evening, which is based on a Stephen King novella, got me thinking about depictions of Christians, especially of the "fundamentalist" sort, in films.
A definition of terms may be in order here. A fundamentalist is simply one who holds to the fundamentals of the Christian faith. And we could go round and round on what the fundamentals are. The term arose out of the fundamentalist/modernist debates in the early 1900s. Unfortunately a lot of cultural baggage gets associated with the term: "I don't drink, don't smoke, don't chew and don't go out with girls that do." I've come to believe that the fundamental question is: Who is Jesus Christ and what did His death accomplish? We can talk about all manner of peripheral issues and even disagree about many or all of them but disagreement does not give me the right to decide whether or not you are a Christian. That province belongs to God alone.
There have been many positive depictions of faith in film: For all its cinematic shortcomings Chariots of Fire showed a man who stood on principle and personal conviction even when it placed him in direct opposition to king and country; Tender Mercies depicted how faith and family helped a flawed, troubled man come to terms with his past and failings; To End All Wars showed how faith could help men retain their dignity and survive an incredibly horrific situation.
The depiction of the egomaniacal, manipulative leader of "The Church of the Third Revelation" in There Will Be Blood was multi-dimensional compared to the cartoonish, apocalyptic, millenarian nutjob in The Mist, who seemed to be there mostly as a convenient target for the disdain of the audience.
Now Playing: Lydia Lunch - Memory and Madness - Wet Nurse in the Trauma Unit