Friday, March 9, 2012

A Bit of a Leap Off of “Martha Marcy May Marlene”

Martha Marcy May Marlene is promoted as a psychological thriller film. That is unfortunate, because people expecting that will likely complain that it is a psychological sleep aid film. In other reviews and critiques, much was made about the analysis of a cult in the film. That is also a bit unfair, because this is not an explanatory sort of story either. It is more of a meditation on the affects that such a group has on an individual. In this case it concerns a girl who leaves a Manson-Family-like group after realizing their true nature, her failure to reintegrate back into society, and her increasing paranoia that she is being pursued.

The film does touch on methods and practices that strip Martha of her reason and program her to do their will, but it is all a part of the effective way that the film confuses present day with the past in the cult. This is the intent of the film, exposing the audience to Martha’s mental damage, but it makes the cult life a secondary issue. Still there are enough glimpses to serve as a warning—both to those who would expose themselves to such a group as well as to groups who wish to influence culture with their beliefs.

…Because that is always a concern for religious communities in general and followers of Jesus in particular. It does no good to have a wonderful truth that can change the world for the better if you are going to turn it into a system of your own rules to control people. Well intentioned as it may be, care needs to be taken to let faith and truth serve as guides and not religion and regulation. There is not a single mainstream denomination that would be brought to mind by this film, but if you look into methods cults use to trap people some can come uncomfortably close to things that churches will try in an effort to win more people.

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