Thursday, March 10, 2005
- In case you missed it the first time, and based on the hype it seemed like few conservative Christians missed it, The Passion of the Christ is back in recut form. In the ad I've seen, Mel Gibson is quoted as saying, "By softening some of its more wrenching aspects, I hope to make my film and its message of love available to a wider audience." With all due respect to Mr. Gibson and his efforts to "soften" the impact of his film, I plan to skip the Passion this time, too for two major reasons: (1) its theology is based on Roman Catholic doctrine and mysticism rather than on Scripture alone and (2) by having an actor portray Jesus Christ, it is in blatant violation of the Second Commandment, which expressly forbids the making of graven images which purport to represent God. (Incidentally, I share this "no images of Christ" view with many of my Reformed brethren. It's not novel with me.)
For the life of me, I can't understand why evangelicals have so praised this film in spite of these terrible flaws, but yet virtually ignored a far more praiseworthy film: the recent biopic of the great Reformer Luther. How a heretical, blasphemous depiction of the crucifixion of our Lord came to be touted as a unparalleled witnessing tool, but a film that strongly and positively portrays a man as preaching justification by faith through Christ alone is to be so woefully overlooked is utterly beyond me. My advice: skip the recut Passion, and buy or rent the new DVD of Luther. You'll be glad you did.
- The other week, I had the opportunity to watch, on DVD, an epic of an altogether different kind: a 1960's Russian adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's great novel, War and Peace. Although I can't agree with every aspect of Tolstoy's system of philosophy or Sergei Bondarchuk's interpretation, this epic story covers such a gamut of human emotion and suffering that it can't help but touch on many issues that are well worth the consideration of all men and women. As a film, it is an amazing accomplishment. It is actually made up of four films, which total seven hours in length. There are many amazing scenes, not only on the battlefield (100,000+ members of the Russian Red Army served as extras) but also in the ballroom and the drawing room. One bit of cinematography is especially noteworthy. In the ballroom scene where Natasha dances with Prince Andrei, there's a sequence where the camera follows a group of people who are walking through a darkened room adjacent to the great ballroom. As the camera moves, you're mostly in darkness, with occasional glimpses of the brightly lit ballroom, until you take one last movement, suddenly immersing you in the light, movement, and sound of the ball. When I saw this sequence unfold, I audibly gasped in amazement. I'm familiar with many of the landmarks of cinema history, but this sequence has to be one of the greatest of them all.
- On an altogether different note, I am pleased to inform my readers that the second season of one of TV's all-time greatest shows is now out on DVD. Yes, it's that chronicle of the world's quirkiest farming couple, Oliver and Lisa Douglas, Green Acres!!! I was crazy about this show when I was a young lad in the 1970's, and I still think it's a riot. Based on the episodes I've seen so far, the second season looks like it's an improvement over the first season, which was very funny in its own right. If you have a soft spot for, er, corny humor, be sure to pick this one up!
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