Saturday, June 30, 2007

Top Ten Films: Part Five

Okay, the fifth film on this list is not really a movie that was shown in theaters. It isn’t really a film, but rather a mini-series, and while we’re at it, it is really two miniseries.

In most cases it is a no-brainer that a book will be better than the movie interpretation of that book—just look at the Harry Potter franchise. They are some good films but nowhere near as good as the books. Well, there are exceptions to every rule, and the two Anne of Green Gables miniseries by Kevin Sullivan fit into that exception. These movies take three or four of the books from the series and turn the small, funny episodic chapters into a sweeping story of Anne's life in a way that the viewer really gets to know her. Watching her grow and mature, fall in love, and embrace reality without losing her romantic imagination is a great experience.

It is perhaps a little ironic that a story that is essentially a classic, period, romance carries the message that reality can be more romantic than silly, imaginary, romantic ideals. Anne is a wonderful character, with a rich imagination, and as a result, she has a hard time living in the real world. Nothing can measure up to the ideals that she invents for herself. While the viewer wants her to finally recognize the good she has available in her life, she is such an endearing character that she never really becomes annoying.

As with most romantic stories, this one never explores the “happily ever after.” Sullivan did come up with his own “Anne” story not based on the books exploring events later in her life, but why bother?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Top Ten Films: Part Four

What can be written about Raiders of the Lost Ark that has not already been said? Probably nothing. Among its many other accomplishments, however, it must be mentioned that it made fantasy and adventure stories of this sort respectable. Fantastic adventures had always been found on film, but seldom had they been pulled off so effectively. In the thirties and forties, adventure films were very popular, drawing viewers back again and again with cliffhangers each week. But these films were never viewed as anything better than B Film product.

Spielberg and Lucas had already created the “Summer Blockbuster” with Jaws and Star Wars in the seventies. But with Raiders, they reinvented the old adventure yarn as truly first class filmmaking. It was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar! The adventure movie was here to stay. Raiders was followed by two (soon to be three) great sequels as well as: Goonies, Romancing the Stone, The Princess Bride, the Robin Hood remakes, the Zorro films, The National Treasure films, and more.

It did more than just reinvent the adventure genre, however. It also began a new sub-genre perhaps best described as a supernatural or magical adventure. Young Sherlock Holmes, Big Trouble in Little China, the new Mummy movies, and the Pirates of the Caribbean movies all owe their existence to Raiders of the Lost Ark.

As enjoyable as all these listed films are, the original is still the best. From the opening mini adventure in the Amazon to the shot of the government storing the Ark in the giant warehouse at the end, it is all cinema magic. For that matter the two sequels (yes both of them) are too.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Propaganda (or Redeemed Art part 2)

A lot (but not all) of Christian art must unfortunately be termed propaganda. Propaganda is a legitimate art form so this Christian art is art; however, propaganda is usually of a lesser quality than most art, so…

Nonmodern has addressed art before, and the crucial missing element here is the aesthetic. Propaganda is concerned more with message than beauty, and often the truth of the message is lost in the substandard delivery. (It must also be said here that a lot of so-called Christian art is devoid of truth as well.) When a Christian does art it should be done well—as art. All too often the artist creates a very poor work knowing that they have a built in audience simply because it is labeled as Christian. Painting (or hiring people to paint) cookie cutter mass-produced images with gimmicky light on them is neither Christian nor Art no matter how many scripture verses are attached.

At the same time, Christians dismiss some artists because the art isn’t Christian enough. Heaven forbid a Christian waste time writing songs about life that fail to present the Four Spiritual Laws, or the Roman Road! Even worse, how dare some Christians practice their art outside the community approved Christian industry? Christian and secular are poor labels to be used on any art. Whether a piece is redeemed or not should not depend on the label, or a limited acceptable message, or the genre, or even the artist. Compare the “secular” U2 with the “Christian” Amy Grant for example. Judge art on the truth it contains and the beauty it has.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Arrogance

Christians are accused by Secular Humanists of being arrogant, ignorant people who force their view on everyone else. That this happens is really strange for a couple of reasons.

First of all, the majority of Christians believe that there are truths that apply to everyone, whether they believe them or not. Namely that God exists, that humanity is dependant on Him for life and Salvation, and that people need Salvation from God because they have strayed away from the way God created them to be. However, Humanists also believe that there are truths that apply to everyone whether they believe them or not. They say that there is no God and nothing happens after death. Belief in one system or the other does not entail a higher level of arrogance.

Secondly, Christianity teaches that people have a God given right to choose whether they will accept God’s teaching or not. While some Christians try to “spread the news” most do not. Any attempt to tell others what they believe is usually an attempt to warn others out of a concern for their good. Most Christians offer their views out of what they would call love. Humanists, on the other hand, (at least those that complain about Christians) tend to attack Christians and their message. They don’t spread their “we are just matter and will cease to exist in the end” message. Certainly not out of a concern for others or a desire to help them.

In the end the question must be raised. Which is arrogant? Is it arrogance to share a message that you have believed that could change lives? Or, is it arrogance to deny that message and attack its believers because it does not measure up to your (apparently complete) understanding of the universe?
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