Friday, April 18, 2014

God is in the Movies!

I’m going to be honest with you all.  I started this blogathon for one really dumb reason; I liked the name of it.  I felt clever for once and was like “that sounds like it would be a cool blogathon” and then I felt almost instantly in over my head.  I tried this blogathon thing once before, and it was kind of an embarrassing failure, but try and try and try again, right?  So, without thinking too much about it I put it all out there. 

Come, be my follower!

All that hesitation and skepticism and trepidation aside, the more I thought about what this blogathon could bring to the surface the more I was really, really glad I just went for it.  Faith, religion, God…these are all so personal and present us all with so many conflicting and passionate feelings.  You want to know a surefire way to make someone angry, and I mean ‘throw a tantrum, call you a heathen, wish death upon your entire family’ kind of mad?  Debate their religious beliefs with them.  I’ve always found this aspect of human nature alarming in a few ways.  First, why are we so savage when it comes to ideas about a God who is supposed to be so kind and loving?  I mean, do we really think that God is smiling down at us while we are seething with anger and berating someone for their personal beliefs in him?  I’ve never understood how someone can be so tactless and so vile when speaking about a symbol of love.  I wasn’t brought up that way.  It doesn’t mean I agree with you, but I’m not going to cast down fire from the heavens to swallow you up either.  The other reason I find this alarming is because I feel like this passion alone makes the subject so valid.  I mean, we don’t get fired up about things that don’t matter.

I’ve often said this to my wife, when we have one of those stupid arguments that ends with us wanted to scream “I hate you, I want a divorce”; you can’t have love without hate.  You can’t really love something if it doesn’t affect you so deeply to the point where you absolutely HATE it from time to time.  In line with that, I guess that real passion, real love for something as complex as God can give us those same explosive feelings.

It really only makes sense then that film would discuss God in so many different ways.  Film is essentially a medium for passion, and what isn’t more passion driven than faith?  So I put it to my fellow bloggers to find a film or a specific avenue of depicted faith that moved them the most and that made them want to keep watching.  I results were as varied as they were interesting.

But before we get to them, I guess I should answer my own question.

I’ve always been a very religious person.  I was raised in a Christian home and we went to worship every week and we did our utmost to live by Bible principles and I feel like that upbringing has trickled down into my adulthood and the way I raise my children.  It’s funny, because when I first posted my idea for this blogathon I had a very concrete (at least I thought) idea of what I was going to talk about, but as the extension took place it opened me up to having the opportunity to see a certain movie that has lasted with me far longer than I expected (especially given the way it was handled) and has made me alter my initial idea for my post.

Yes, I’m talking about Noah.

I’m not going to review the film, really, since I already reviewed it and have reviewed it again (sort of) and linked other reviews to it, and so the subject (at least here) has been beaten to death.  But, the film caused me to reflect on something I wasn’t going to reflect on initially.

Noah is a very controversial film for me.  About halfway through the movie I saw individuals actually getting up and walking out of the theater.  They didn’t come back.  Faith can do that to a person.  I’m not going to lie, when I first saw The Watchers my stomach dropped a bit and I thought to myself ‘I should leave’ and then when those fallen angels were taken back up to  heaven I again felt the urge to leave, or at least pray for forgiveness and then, when Ham began to waver and actually contemplate killing his father (which is the point when the people in front of me actually left the theater) I almost went with them.  Still, the entire time, I was held to my seat for reasons I didn’t fully understand.  First, I told myself it was because of Russell Crowe (who is BEYOND outstanding in the film) and then I told myself it was because I couldn’t rightfully write a review of the film without having seen the whole thing, but then I realized that the reason I was still watching was because, deep down inside, the film was about me.

The film was human.

Now, I will go on record right now saying that I think Aronofsky’s depiction of Noah and the account recorded is not accurate.  And yes, call me crazy all you want but I am actually one of those people who BELIEVES the Bible and the accounts recorded and so YES, I believe that there was a WORLDWIDE flood and that Noah and his family were the only ones spared.  I honestly don’t care if you think I’m a loon.  Still, that is not what I want to talk about.

The reason that I fell for Aronofsky’s Noah is that he took inspiration from a story we have all heard and made it feel accessible, modern and realistic.  THIS is how I like me God in the movies.  I want to feel it connect with my own personal plight, struggle, whatever with faith.  I want to feel in my bones the authenticity of a situation, not just physical but emotional.  The way that Noah was so conflicted with what was right, what he MUST do felt so natural and so organic.  I think that religion has become something so conflicted these days.  There are people who swear by it and people who loathe it, but no matter what side of the fence you are on, faith is important to everyone.  Without it, we have nothing.  In Noah, Aronofsky allows us to look down at ourselves and understand that while we maybe aren’t as drastic as Noah was (in his version), we have all been so internally conflicted with what we believe, what we stand for, where we are going and in the process he gives us something to examine within ourselves.

Aronofsky’s Noah was NOT a story about Noah, it was a story about you, me and everyone we know.

I like to see me in my movies.

But enough about me, what about you?  Here are some inspired links to posts from fellow bloggers who were kind enough to give this blogathon a shot and weigh in on their take. 

Big Screen, Small Words takes us to a fantasy world...
Cinematic Spectacle takes us to the world of Ingmar Bergman...
The Matinee so graciously lent us his post on Jesus of Montreal...
Film Flare takes on a tree of life...
Perspective of a Writer takes on death...
Rambling Film questions a certain passion...
Films and Coke explores a more lighthearted depiction of God...
Flixchatter caps it all off with an Easter look at Jesus in the movies...

I want to thank everyone who participated.  This was a weighty subject, but as these posts all show, the answers are as varied as they are personal and this is really what makes film watching (and loving) so special!


  1. Great commentary.

    You make me want to see Noah more than I have previously. Someday, when the festival is over. :-)

    1. It really is one of the most controversial experiences I had in the theater, and for that alone I recommend it. It made me feel so many different things.

  2. I love how you handled such a weighty topic as Aronofsky’s Noah from the perspective of a person of faith. I love this especially: "I like to see me in my movies." Cheers.

    1. Thanks! It is the most rewarding experience as a lover of film to sit back and see your own reflection in the screen.

  3. Firstly, THANK YOU for hosting this blogathon, I'm glad I took part and I'm grateful for the chance to talk about my faith on my blog. Secondly, wonderful commentary here! I probably would've felt the same way as you about Noah, not sure that my admiration for Crowe's acting would've kept it on my seat though. That's why I think I'd rather just rent this (if I feel like watching it later). My issue with Noah is that I felt (well seems proven in this case) that Aronofsky did not treat the subject and source material with respect. I don't just believe the Bible (as you did, in its entirety) but I LOVE God and what he has breathed to life in written form via some of his chosen people, so to see it being butchered in such a way just pains me and it would likely my enjoyment, or should I say, lack thereof.

    In any case, no I definitely don't think you are a loon, if you are then I am too and so be it :D I know that being a Christian is often regarded that way by the world anyway, so nothing new there, ahah.

    I like what you wrote here... 'I like to see me in my movies' Me too! That's why I like the personal journey of faith depicted in Ben-Hur as I see Judah in me as well, as someone who often struggle with sin in whatever form it may be, but God keeps on pursuing us and meet us where we are.

    1. I'm really glad you were able to participate. I personally loved, and connected deeply with your post. I too LOVE what God and his son have done for us, and so I completely respect and understand your stance on Noah. Like I said, it left me conflicted throughout and even now. I do tend to try and separate film from personal belief as a way to appreciate where other people are coming from, but there are times when even I can't do that (like with the atrocious Last Temptation of Christ).

      We can be loons together!

  4. Really enjoyed reading that post. However "you can’t have love without hate." - ooh, I disagree. It's possible for love and hate to exist together, but the ideal of love doesn't have an ounce of hate present there. If love is pure good, hate is rot.

    That can be my only contribution here as I never even held the bible in my hands and still haven't seen Noah :)

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed this Sati! I agree with you 100%, in a perfect sense. If we have perfect love then hate does not exist, because in a perfect sense hate is not an option, but we are imperfect souls and until we reach a perfect state I don't see how the two can be separated. They are like the ying and yang of emotions. But this is all subjective obviously, and it is just a personal opinion/thought/epiphany for me.

      As a person who is removed from scripture, I'd be really interested to hear your take on Noah. As soon as you do see it, I expect a Twitter PM ;-)

  5. Beautiful write-up man! I'm in the same boat (couldn't resist!) as you on this film and how you like God in the movies. My connection to The Seventh Seal is like your connection to Noah. Antonius Block is, more or less, me. I believe the words of the Bible too, but I struggle with faith at times, as Block does all through the film. I like to see me in the movies as well, which is probably why I love Noah too.

    1. To be honest, when I first started this I was intending on writing on Winter Light, so we aren't that far off on our thinking here buddy. Bergman had such a way with tackling faith and man's internal struggle with it.