Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Holiday Entertainment

I enjoyed the holiday break and hope you did as well. I want to quickly review one book that I read and one movie that I saw over the holidays. One, I enjoyed - the other, not so much.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
The book first. McCarthy won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2007 for this post-apocalyptic tale of a father and son trying to find their way together in a world ravished by some kind of terrible worldwide devastation. I'm always nervous when I read Pulitzer-recognized fiction because sometimes I feel like it can be so wordy that the stories are hard to follow. But McCarthy is the opposite - the book is short, the writing is abrupt, yet powerfully beautiful. I really connected with his description of the father-son relationship. I also resonated with his insight into the human soul as he imagines what life might be like after some kind of disaster that wipes out most of what we value. What do humans do when all that their lives are built around disappear? Some of his scenes are gruesome, but they connected with me as plausible because of my view on the depths of human depravity. Wow - even now as I write, I am reminded of the powerful emotions that this book ignited in my heart - a great little read. They turned the book into a movie that was released in November - I haven't seen it or heard much about it.

Avatar by James Cameron
The movie Avatar is at once visually appealing and at the same time intellectually insulting. Insulting not in the sense that I wish the story had been better (which I did), but insulting that the $350 million movie is a cover for political propaganda and theological instruction. Cameron knows how to use to technology, no doubt, and I was actually glad that I saw the movie just to witness the 3D movies of the future. However, Cameron's main point, it seems, is to present us with his conclusions on America's involvement in Vietnam and Iraq. He's not trying to really hide these lessons - the references are repeated and clear. But the theological instruction is more subversive - a high-tech apologetic for pantheism. I'll refer you to Ross Douthat's article because I can't say it any better - Cameron's religion of choice is clear.


Brent said...

Saw The Road at the movies...don't go if you're looking to leave the theatre in a great mood or anything. It's minimalist, but beautiful. I'm thinking of teaching it for a "film & theology" class.

Blueboy said...

I have to agree about the Avatar message. Gina and I were realy amazed by the effects and world created by technology, but the anti-American, anti-military message and overtly natural/scientific pantheism were really ofeensive and over the top.

Scripture states that you can judge a tree by its fruit (Matthew 7:17-20) So far, the fruit from this movie has actually led to depression and suicidal thoughts in many audience members who obsess over the mythical world of the Na'vi, wishing they lived there. Other fans have expressed feelings of disgust for the human race after watching this film. One teen interviewed after watching the film expressed a feeling of dispair and wanting desperately to escape reality after vieiwing this movie.

This film is a bad tree giving bad fruit. Given fertile soil and the right conditions, this movie might plant seeds of destruction in certain individuals.

See the related CNN article here.