Movie Commentary: The Blind Side- Building up others by acts of faith and love.

The Blind Spot is a must see movie.  The movie brings to the big screen the story of Mike Oher and the Tuohy family.  It tells how the Tuohy’s came to reach out to Michael Oher and his life was changed, as was theirs.  The movie was filled with excellent acting from all members of the cast with Sandra Bullock leading the way.  This is a movie you leave impacted emotionally.   The movie does show that it was not just the Tuohy’s involved in changing Michael’s life but many choices along the way. There was “Big Tony” Henderson, Mrs. Beasly, and Miss Sue all who made choices that helped Michael.  Now the reality is that the movie is powerful but the story alters from the facts to fit the director’s vision.   The full details of the story can be read in detail in Michael Lewis’s book: The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game.  A sampling of the story can be found in a New York Times article written by Michael Lewis titled: The Ballad of Big Mike. It gives a fuller grasp of the elements of the true story. Regardless the movie in the film is powerful. 

Now the film gives a perspective related to the change fighting with the director John Lee Hancock’s viewpoint. In an interview, John Lee Hancock indicated that he did not feel the Tuohy’s faith was a major factor in the story; it was simply part of who they were. In his mind, it could have been anybody.  The story was about the way a young man was helped and how both touched each other’s lives. It is a story about actions that changed a life and the relationships involved.  Many of the lines used by the director/writer in the book are quotes taken from statements made by those involved.  Not at some level, John Lee Hancock also alludes to social trends and the lives of those who do well compared to those who do not.  It showed the real dynamic of acts of love not being trusted by others, and being fueled by motives of secondary gain.  Rather, the movie significantly displays that lives were touched as people responded in keeping with who they were. That this story has such strong impact that it reflects acts of love even if you remove the contributions of faith to the story. 

An interesting element of the director’s take on the story was the focus on protectiveness.  A measure of “protectiveness” is added as a measure of intelligence to portray that Michael Oher had a profound sense of protectiveness and loyalty. He cared for others and truly needed to connect with others.  Family is seen as the primary need and a comparison is even shown between those that reach out in love to those that use and destroy (Tuohy’s versus drug dealer/gang.) Ultimately, Michael was shown to care so much about others that he would protect at cost to his own self.

Another element the direct highlighted was that we all have blindsides or blind spots.  Michael constantly is protecting himself from the painful memory of separation from mother.  Near the end of the film the character talks about surviving by simply closing his eyes.  Emphasis was also pointed out toward how others can be blind to real need and giving is just a superficial part of being in society and giving out of surplus.  The Tuohy’s though went beyond that, and like the Good Samaritan reached out when others may not have.

Personally, the film for me showed the importance of giving in such a way that builds up another, reflecting the love of Jesus.  It did serve as part of the inspiration of the giving challenge issued in an article written on Black Friday. The Tuohy’s gave and it touched Michael Oher in a way that built him up and touch not only his life, but now the life of millions of other people.  Their act of love ultimately draws attention and glory to the King of Kings.  Sure, they are now famous, but famous for living the life of people following God’s lead and helping others.  Their actions were not an act as evidenced by the reaction of Sandra Bullock to exposure to the family. In an article by Terry Mattingly, Sandra Bullock stated “This family, they were themselves for no other benefit other than because they wanted to reach out, lend a hand, and had no idea that they would get a son in return” and she also as indicated that she regained “faith in those who say they represent a faith. I’ve finally met people that walk the walk.”   For those of us who follow Jesus and entered into the kingdom of God, that is words the uplift.  As Leigh Anne Tuohy stated in that same article “We absolutely believe that none of this was a fluke. This was God-driven from the start.” Life was lived in love in such a way that others see the actions and see ultimately Jesus as faith and deeds match.  The Tuohy’s in their actions truly reflected Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

So for any reading this commentary, if you haven’t seen the movie please do so.  And if you have, take a look at yourself and whether you follow Jesus or not, examine how to walk in love of others by giving in ways that touch others beyond the superficial and in a way that builds them up.  Michael Oher’s life was changed by such actions.  It is not about whether a person is built up enough to develop worldly success, rather it is about touching a person that elevates and enables them to walk with confidence into the journey of life.  



 

Sean, Leigh Anne, and Michael

Blog Anniversary 6/10/2009: One year and still ticking.

Wow, this blog has been up and running for a year now.  It is amazing to look back at when I started writing for the blog and where things have gone since.  I think some important articles have been written. Some mistake were made as well but over all the blog is meeting the vision for the blog.  I wanted to make some comments about things happening in the world, do movie commentaries as led, shine light to ways people are deceived, and hopefully shine a light of truth on how really to be in true peace. 

This blog still has room to grow and develop. At some point the blog will migrate over to being hosted at www.peacebringer.netbut in the meantime I am still writing here.  Besides the blog, God lead me to start the forum and domain.  The forum is up and active and has further shaped the vision of looking to shine the light of truth, expose darkness, and build each other up.  I feel blessed by each person God has led to participate in the discussion and find myself challenged as well as hopefully challenge others to grow and evaluate themselves before God.

Now, I know this blog has plenty of growth to do. I realize there are some pretty consistent weaknesses.  One weakness is the inconsistency of posting.  I apologize for making those that follow the blog wonder when I next will post.  I have too often given in to my energy levels and let other things get in the way of writing.  Such a fact is part of the reason I missed making this post on the actual anniversary date. 

I also know I need to better define and organize my categories and broaden them out.  Currently the categories do not make for narrowed down selection to find particular types of posts.  So this is on my ever extensive to do list.   I also plan to reorganize and update my links and blogroll.

In terms of articles you can expect to see in the future there is a good “to do list.” : Ongoing Foundations of Strong Delusion Series, Barriers to the Gospel Series, A series on what we are taught by our culture through entertainment, a Christian approach to conspiracy,  an article or small series on examing morality perspectives, and other series or articles that are not at the top of my mind at the moment.

In the next year I also do hope to have the web portal actually have productive, useful, and interesting content.  Hopefully those of you who follow the blog consistently will continue to have patience as the blog, my writing, and the other services grow and mature.  I look forward to seeing what things God leads me to write on in the year to come. 

If there is anything you would like to see in the blog, portal, or forum please feel free to make a comment. If any content on the blog has touched you within the past year, I love to hear and read testimonies.  You can either post a comment here or drop me an email at peacebringer@peacebringer.net

Above all things I want to wish the readers blessing and may God draw you into deeper awareness of His love, truth, peace, and joy.  May God draw you into true deeper intimacy with Him and may the things the hinder, blind, bind, or get in the way become evident and released.  May God grant all the readers eyes to see, ears to hear, and an open heart to the things of God the Father, Jesus the Messiah, and the Holy Spirit.

So with that I bless you all in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, let us together see what God will do.

Movie Commentary: Star Trek- The future begins

Star Trek: The Future Begins

Star Trek: The Future Begins

Recently the film Star Trek: the future begins has opened to much critical acclaim and popular support. The movie itself is well-done and well written and a testament to the skills of director J.J. Abrams and screenwriters Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman.  The movie is well-paced, with good comedic moments, riveting action sequences, stunning special effects, and excellent character development. The movie is a well-crafted display of story telling. Now, with that being said, it is worth examining the elements of what makes up this new Star Trek film.  If you have not seen the movie you may want to stop reading at this point because the rest of this article will be discussing assorted plot points and elements of the film.  Before getting started on the plot elements it is worthwhile to know a little bit about the overall orientation of Star Trek as whole.

    

Star Trek Background      

          

The movie does a good job with staying true the Gene Roddenbury’s views and beliefs. Gene Roddenbury was a self-professed humanist and atheist. There is a good article examining a Christian view of his viewpoint located here: http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/cri/cri-jrnl/web/crj0147a.html

and from a non-Christian view point:

http://www.pantheism.net/paul/startrek.htm.

In general I would argue that the Star Trek universe is one that fight in line with the proponent of “Global Oneness” view humanity as being “divine within” and really promotes moral relativism and inclusivity.  Star Trek as a whole contains both direct and subtle ways of promoting the humanist and new age agendas.

           

           There are certainly images and elements briefly shown in this film that fit within the current “New Age agenda.”  Some things I noticed during the film.  Early in the movie you have a brief flash of an alien who loves rather like the oft promoted “grays.”  There is as in most Star Trek films heavy reliance on technologies including heavy use of holograms.  The earth has become a “Global one” and even moved beyond that to a “Cosmic one” via the “Federation.”   There is the interest in taking the “human” out of law enforcement with the appearance of an apparent robotic police officer who chased young James Kirk.  There is a strong use of computers in charge of objects (internet of things) and there is also heavy use of biometrics.  None of these elements are really central to the storyline but are elements that push subtlety these core elements. Outside of the subtle images and elements that are not central to the story line there are three distinct themes that carry on through the films plot.  The elements of destiny, duality, and dedication to peace are central elements of the major plotline.

 

 

Destiny Plot Elements

        Given that this film is a reboot of the Star Trek franchise, the element of destiny plays a key role.  The characters portray in this film are well known and in a sense we already “know” their destinies.  This film portrays how they get together and shows elements of character not previously developed.  The essential characters are all shown to have extremely special “aptitudes” of one nature or another.  Uhuru is special in her understanding of languages.  Sulu is special in piloting skills and fencing.  Chekov is shown to be a math genius.  Scotty is shown to be a genius in engineering responsible for future discoveries that advance technology, he is also not afraid of stretching the bounds of ethics for the benefit of science.  Dr. McCoy is shown to be a man of quick problem solving skills and excellent medical understanding. And of course, Spock and Kirk are shown to be characters of unique superiority.  In essence, the essential make up of the crew of the Starship Enterprise are shown to be elite individuals tasked with promoting the peace of the Federation and engaging in humanitarian aide. 

The film does a lot more of explore the role of destiny with the characters of Spock and Kirk who among the elite are considered extra-special and inter-twined.  Originally the movie was shot with continual Spock and Kirk parallels starting at birth but many of those scenes got cut or cut short.  The movie does both strongly portray both as unique characters on their paths to their destiny on the Starship Enterprise.

The story of Spock’s destiny is central to the story.  Spock is the reported to be the main reason for the villain Captain Nero’s anger and destructive path. He was angry because Spock failed to save Romulus. He was sent back in time and was the cause of the death of James Kirk’s father, George Kirk.  Spock was born of a Vulcan and Human relation that caused him to be the victim of prejudice on Vulcan.  The whole element of Spock’s development rested on his having to make a choice between the Vulcan culture or something beyond the Vulcan culture, which he chose.  Ultimately the character of Spock faces the destiny of witnessing the death of his planet and the death of his mother at once, challenging his growing ability to repress his emotions.

The story of Kirk’s destiny is always pointed to both as a Captain of a Starship as well as a defender of the Peace of the Federation.   He is a child whose father sacrificed self for the greater good.  James had a difficult life, reportedly with a drunken, abusive uncle (scenes cut from movie) who lives the life of a rebel until he encounters Starfleet and meets Captain Pike who offers him a place in Starfleet along with a challenge that Starfleet need more people like James Kirk who would not just act in accordance with the letter of regulation, to “leap before thinking.” It is worth noting the “elder Spock” tells Jim that regardless of events, he would still be in Starfleet and that his destiny is to helm Enterprise.

            Spock and Kirk characters given their special destinies also display a tendency to quickly surpass their teacher and mentors. They both end up going through the rituals prescribed to shape their destinies and develop their talents but both quickly excel. They also have both destinies shaped by elder Spock who gets them to ultimately take on the path they would have followed without the “change in history” the destruction of Vulcan entails.

            Of course in terms of destiny the film gives a interesting twist to the famous Star Trek “Red Shirt” in part of the film.  A non-descript character who is looking for a fight and engages in pushing the limits ends up dead, portraying that those that end up dead do so because of flaws in their character that results in risky choices that results in their own destruction.  Ultimately the story of destiny and the Enterprise seems to be that there needs to be a group of elite and special people looking out for the well being of others. 

 

 

 

Duality Plot Elements

            As we have seen the characters of Kirk and Spock are shown to have special destinies and seen to be special. There characters also play out another major plot element and that of duality.  Spock and Kirk are portrayed as intertwined and exact opposites.  Spock is the reason based, carefully deliberate, logic based character whereas Kirk is the opposite. He is emotion, intuition, and impulse based character. They are portrayed as opposites who initially clash but ultimately are brought together by the “older Spock” albeit by manipulation.  It really is portraying the emotion versus reason dichotomy.  The film suggests that really there needs to be a sound balance between the two and that working together they cannot be stopped but they need a “wise” other to bring them together.  Older Spock also shows them that it is possible to reach a point of balance between the internal dualism. This dualism also is examined within the character of Spock as well as the differences between Vulcans and Humans as well as Vulcans and Romulans. 

         Dualism in the film is really more extensive then the Emotion versus Reason, Spock and Kirk comparatives.  The film points out that there is always paths to choose that are competing.  Spock was put in position of embracing his old Vulcan culture versus moving on to something beyond the traditional. Thus the dichotomy of upholding and building traditional roots versus working toward being a part of progressive transformation is central to the plot.  The film does show value in maintaining cultural roots but also suggests that working to the greater whole is of higher value. This part of the plot is really examined in the Character of Spock who is directed to having to paths to choose the traditional or the progressive.  Ultimately, the character of Spock is able to serve both by older Spock going to help his people maintain and rebuild culture and young Spock serves progressive transformation.

            Overall, the film plot seems to point toward these ongoing dichotomies that are ongoing and that need to be managed and balanced.  Some old emotion and logic need to work together usually brought together by some wise “other.”  The traditional with the progressive need to be balanced, and at some level even the past with the future, really any apparent opposing forces need to be brought into some sort of balance.  The search and development of that balance is really part and parcel to the last plot element to be examined, the Dedication to peace. 

 

Dedication to Peace Plot Elements

            The film certainly displays a commitment to a mindset regarding what peace would look like. The film certainly shows Gene Roddenberry’s ideals as well as the agenda of the United Nations.  In the film, Starfleet’s purpose was described as engaging in humanitarian aide and peacekeeping. The essential core values of diplomacy and peacekeeping displayed are consistent with the principles of multi-track diplomacy.  The twelve principles of multi-track diplomacy are:

  1. Relationship—Building strong interpersonal and intergroup relations throughout the fabric of society.
  1. Long-term commitment—Making an ongoing commitment to people and to processes that may take years to come to fruition.
  1. Cultural synergy—Respecting the cultural wisdom of all the parties and welcoming the creative interaction of different cultural ways.
  1. Partnership—Modeling collaborative process by partnering with local parties and with other institutions and coalitions.
  1. Multiple technologies—Utilizing a variety of technologies, as appropriate, and creating new methods, as needed, to meet the unique needs of each situation.
  1. Facilitation—Assisting parties in taking responsibility for their own dreams and destiny.
  1. Empowerment—Helping people become empowered agents of change and transformation within their societies.
  1. Action research—Learning from all that we do and sharing that learning with others.
  1. Invitation—Entering the system where there is an invitation and an open door.
  1. Trust—Building relationships of mutual trust and caring within the system.
  1. Engagement—Acknowledging that once we enter a system we become a unique part of it — an engaged, caring, and accountable partner.
  1. Transformation—Catalyzing changes at the deepest level of beliefs, assumptions, and values, as well as behaviors and structures. (Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy, 2004)

Now the intent of this commentary is not to examine the concepts of multi-track diplomacy but upon viewing the film, the essential principles of this mindset are clearly on display.  This really is no surprise, because these elements of multi-track diplomacy are really foundational to most post-modern veins of thought.

 

At a more simplistic level the film really emphasizes two types of peace, that of peace through strength and peace through tolerance.  The peace of the federation is really no different than Pax Romana, peace being maintained by the government ruling over many people.  In Rome the peace came through being forced to enter the Roman Empire by being conquered, whereas the Federation simply wants people to join the Federation peacefully.  Starfleet serves to intervene in the instances where others choose to fight against the Federation and serve to “keep the peace.”  The peace really is dependent upon the submission to a powerful governmental collective.

 

The other type of peace displayed is that of peace through tolerance.  This comes down to accepting people for whatever they believe or do as long as it does not interfere with society as a whole.  Any member of the Cosmos should be free to follow whatever their culture dictates but when they are more intellectually aware they will gravitate beyond their culture into the greater good.  The Star Trek universe portrays such a push toward the apparent cohesiveness of tolerance. 

There is more to the plot elements of the film other then the general types of peace the film portrays.  The essential plot elements center on a significant barrier to peace and how the character react in responding to that threat.  Captain Nemo from Romulus is the main villain and he is seeking vengeance for Romulus being destroyed and Spock not being able to save it, and in Captain Nemo’s mind simply sitting idly by.  Captain Nemo is obsessed with rage and anger.  He not only wants to destroy Spock’s home planet as revenge but elevates it to the home worlds of any who participated in the lack of saving Romulus.  Captain Nemo is ruled by anger and vengeance.

The film does incorporate pretty clear imagery over the destructiveness of anger.  The material for the weapon that destroys planets when inserted to the core of the planet is called “red material” and is responsible for creating black holes that destroy worlds.  The “red material” seems symbolic of anger and rage which when acted on and followed tends to seek to destroy.  Rage can be a black hole of destruction in people’s lives. In the film, the villain was so filled with rage, that in the end he let the rage destroy him. He refused to accept the offer of assistance and let anger destroy him.  

The film shows that the enemy driven by anger can be defeats through the use of ultimately of balanced duality, the working together of an elite team, the effectiveness of technology, and the willingness to self-sacrifice. Letting anger rule the film shows will ultimately lead to self-destruction with unwillingness to accept offered aide. 

In essence, the story of the film really is about how to maintain peace and triumph over those driven by anger. The film really promotes an idea and agenda on how to cope with the current age where terrorism and folks driven by anger and hate is the subject of the day.  The film really portrays the ongoing agenda of how to win a war on terror with the emphasis that the terrorist’s anger and irrationality will ultimately in the end destroy them.

 

 

The film’s message contrasted with Christianity

            The view of the world and Cosmos in the universe of Star Trek and the film really serves a stark contrast to Christianity. The world of Star Trek is that of the elevation of the individual who fulfills a destiny serving the greater good with their talents. It is a world where the elite rise to the level of their strengths, which are needed for the good of society.  The Star Trek view of peace is one of surrendering to a governmental authority that seeks to serve the greater good of society and emphasizes working together for the greater good and tolerating all differences.  In fact, as technology and society advance all religious thought is but a function of the culture which can be both embraced but also transcended.  Peace comes first by diplomacy and working through differences and failure to accept the whole will be met with strength and failure to submit will ultimately result in destruction.  The function of humanity and society is to continually grow and expand and there are no obstacles which when working together humanity cannot overcome.

            Christianity on the other hand, is about surrender to the creator of the universe.  In Christianity there is start awareness of the inherent selfishness of humanity and the tendency to serve self.   In true Christianity, peace comes through surrender to the Creator with a recognition that we cannot save ourselves.  The more we grow in knowledge and technology and even tolerance, the more selfishness becomes evident.  In Christianity, peace is not about absence of conflict but rather living in right relationship first with our Creator and secondly with those around us.  Living in peace with those around us is not about accepting whatever they do or believe, it is about loving others in spite of their choices with the ever willingness to speak truth.  Christianity is never about forcing change or looking down on those who fail to accept the truth. A Christian should take an attitude of loving concern and a willingness to reach out to others regardless of what they say or do. 

 The mindset portrayed in the Star Trek film is ever increasing and the agenda portrayed in the film will be front and center.  A time is coming when the contrast the Christian view presents to the world view as advocated in the film will result in Christians being seen as villainous as Captain Nemo with the mindset that we are ultimately the cause of our own destruction because we wouldn’t submit to the opposing view. 

Each person has a choice of what they want to accepted or believe. The ever expanding evolution of humanity into greater expansion and goodness or the submission of self to a Creator who loves beyond all measure.  A choice between trying to find and fullfill a special destiny that serves humanity or  to humbly serve the God of love with whatever gifts and talents God gives.  The world of Star Trek can seem enticing and is but an imagination. In truth, the path of self-expansion will lead to destruction whereas the world of self-submission to the Creator will ultimately lead to true peace and wholeness in spite of what goes on in the world.

Guest Movie Commentary: Slum dog Millionaire by Robert Blake

Slum dog Millionaire: A commentary

 

By Robert W. Blake

 

Recently, my wife and I viewed Slum dog Millionaire. We love India and everything about it, so one more film that helps us understand this nation was imperative to us.

 

I had read many reviews about the movie, knew that it was highly rated. I was not disappointed at all in watching the film. It is so highly rated it became the Oscar winner in the Best picture category.

The question is what it informs the viewer about India and what the commentary about people is in general.

 

The movie is a brilliant snapshot of the issues that face India. The nation is still dominated by the caste system and abject poverty. The film attacks these issues, showing how cruel those of higher standing can be to the lower caste. Specifically, the main character is Muslim and would be deemed as an untouchable, the lowest of the low.

The main character and his brother are orphans and have only themselves to depend upon and one friend, Latika, the main character loves and believes it is destiny that they should be together.

 

The basic plot is the main character is on a game show, and knows a lot of answers that he should not. In explaining how he knew the answers the viewer is given a recounting of events and circumstances of the main characters life. The events helped him to know the correct answer for almost every question. It comes in a flashback technique of the question being read on the show and the main character remembering the events for the Police to explain how he got the answer. What occurs is a brutal depiction of the main characters life.

 

The film does not sugar coat life of the poor and orphaned of India. Several scenes from actual slums are presented, as they are not cleaned up or sanitized in any fashion. One may think it cannot be that bad, but it is and worse. The viewer for example can see the conditions of heavily polluted water that residents of the slum must drink from and other things.

 

The main character and partners grow up and head in different directions due to their condition in life. Trying to find a way out of the slum in various ways, sometimes they chose how to survive and on other times it is forced upon them.

 

But, outside of this being an excellent film to watch. What is there to learn from this? What is there that can be gleaned out of this for the American Christian?

 

First, realize that the events are fictional but very realistic of the conditions and issues of India. What do you do with realizing the wealth that Americans have from the poorest to the richest? It should in some way move us to a softened heart for the world around us. The poorest person in America is much better off than the poorest of poor from India. For example, people living in slums throughout India are not even recognized as human. They have no birth certificates; there is no record of them existing with the government of India.

 

Second, the film is excellent in portraying the end result of a society apart from Jesus. It demonstrates with great clarity the depravity of man. What happens when a nation of 1 billion people knows almost nothing about Jesus? India is a nation of great contrasts and extremes. Depicted time to time in the film you should be aware of the contrasts. Like a new luxury apartment goes up where the slum used to be that the main character grew up in. But, in seeing the apartment building from a distance, you still see the poverty abounding around it. Or the gangster parked in a limousine in the middle of the slum during the opening scenes where a chase scene is occurring. You could easily miss these depictions without an understanding of the contrasting nature of India. You could also miss how it represents the results of Hinduism in the nation.

 

Third, the film portrays common spiritual themes of India. The main character and brother are Muslim. Other than a few occasions it is down played in the film. However, when it is portrayed it is giving a clear message on the need for man to find forgiveness and freedom from guilt. The main characters brother becomes more devout to Islam as the film progresses. It is clear the more violent the brother becomes the greater his need is for forgiveness. Several occasions in the film he takes an action to pay for a sin/wrong he committed against the main character or others. It depicts the need for redemption.

 

It does not stop there. Another theme as mentioned earlier is the main character and Latika. The main character begins to believe that “destiny” is the reason that they have been together since they were children. As the main character moves into adulthood, the destiny turns into love for Latika. It clearly depicts the concepts of karma that are infused into the society of India. What happens to you is what you deserve be it good or bad. In relation to India for example, if you are poor, it is deserved and nothing should be done to remedy it.

 

How do these themes apply to us? Do we live the same way, seeking self-redemption or living as if you have a destiny that cannot change? The answer to both is found in Christ, where I no longer need to redeem myself from my sin and my destiny is changed.

 

Finally, if you are interested about India, how can you learn more? I suggest the following:

 

Films that can be found in the USA:

Water

Monsoon Wedding

The Namesake

Vanaja

 

Books:

 

Being Indian: Inside the Real India by Pavan K. Varma (Not Christian but excellent if you can find it.)

The Quest for Freedom & Dignity: Caste, Conversion & Cultural Revolution by Vishal Mangalwadi

(Actually, any of numerous books by this Indian Christian.)

 

 

Short-Term Summer Project

London Evangelism and Prayer Conference http://www.whm.org/leap

A one week conference learning about India and its culture along with reaching out to the South Asian immigrants living in London.

 

Music:

Aradhna  www.aradhnamusic.com

Aradhna means worship in Hindi. This is taking Indian styled worship and applying it to worshipping Jesus. A mix of Classical Indian music and western music.  

 

 

 

Movie Commentary: The Mummy-Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Yes, I actually spent time watching another movie. I do enjoy movies, even some that are not the best done. I went with my wife and mother and saw The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. And to the reader, again a reminder that my commentaries when read will include spoilers, so you may want to stop reading if you care about spoilage.

 In terms of the technical merits of the film, it was at best an average action film.  Plenty of fighting, gun shots, explosions, and other special effects fill the screen.  The movie even tends to have some developed themes to the script. The writers and director of the film do not take themselves too seriously. I think of the three mummy films, this one was not as well done as the other two but definitely a fun movie to watch and worth viewing. 

However, the film is not real artful in presenting the product.  The acting is mechanical and devoid of true emotional connection.  The movie does more “telling” the story then showing the story. You really don’t feel the emotion of the conflicts depicted on screen, but really get told they exist, or if shown, shown mechanically. The movie does have a lot of interesting puns, some entertaining, some fall flat. They even have the actress playing Evelyn (Maria Bello, 2nd actress playing role) stating “I’m not that person.”  The funniest moment for me was the Yeti putting up arms for a field goal after kicking a soldier head through some posts of some sort.  

The film of course relies heavily on special effects. The most interesting was the three-headed dragon. The most impressive special effect to me was the avalanche with the evil emperor mummy walling it with a wind for a short period.  There are some instance though that the special effects are not real clear.  Twice the evil emperor mummy transforms itself into some form of beast, but it is not real easy to figure out what he is supposed to be.  Overall, though the film was fun and enjoyable and if you enjoyed the other movies, you should enjoy this one.

Now that the technical merits have been examined, now time to explore the themes of the story.  I will of course examine things, as always from a Christian perspective.  This movie, like most Hollywood movies contains themes that can be related to Christian theology and symbolism, but it is clearly coming from a non-Christian theme.  The movie displays a magical and mystical view of the supernatural with magic being a force used for either good or evil.  And I don’t want to dwell on that fact any further, since there are more interesting theme dynamics to examine.

I think the movie all boils down to a central theme of being when we are reconciled and work together, even if coming from different perspectives, we can defeat evil.  This was really made evident in how they defeated the evil emperor. Rick (Brendan Fraser) initially states that the plan is to divide and conquer.  In the process of fighting the evil emperor, the special dagger that needs to go through the mummies heart to kill him, breaks in two.  Rick and Alex (Luke Ford) come together from different angles and reconcile the knife in the heart of the mummy, resulting in the mummy’s death and defeat. This scene encapsulated the varied themes of the movie into the central theme of ultimately coming together.

 The coming together and reconciling is important in the movie.  Rick and Evelyn at the start of the movie are missing each other and basically living in their own separate worlds.  They also are alienated from their son, who isn’t telling his parents what he is up to.  Everyone is doing there own thing.  When they come together for this adventure, they rediscover what they have in common and ultimately reconcile around those common elements, which ultimately is based on their love for each other, but also the similar ways they interact with the world.

As such, the movie also points out the need to be true to ourselves. We need to be doing that which fulfills how we are wired and created.  When we step back from our place in this world it can lead to dissatisfaction and ultimately conflict and isolation.  Rick and Evelyn came alive when they were back in the action versus being retired and holed up in their mansion.  

The movie does put a lot of emphasis on love.  The movie has love betrayed by the evil emperor resulting in the death of his general.  There is love restored between Rick and Evelyn, and there is the new love being formed between Alex and Lin (Isabella Leong).  Amidst these relationships also runs the theme of the value and importance of sacrifice.  The writers designate that the pure in heart sacrifice for those they love. Evelyn was willing to die for her husband.  Rick received a fatal wound for his son, Alex.  Lin and her mother sorceress Zi Juan (Michelle Yeoh) have their immortality sacrificed for a spell to raise those the Han Emperor (Jet Li) unjustly killed building the Great Wall. So by their sacrifices the writers designate the characters as good, pure in heart.

Of course as in any movie with mummies, resurrection is also a theme.  The movie has Han Emperor resurrected by water from a fountain in Shang-ri-la.  There is  Rick being spared from death by same fountain.  There is the resurrection by spell bring back  those wronged by the Han Emperor. There is also the immortality of the sorceress and her daughter.  The resurrections are generally limited to their tasks.  The emperor would become permanently immortal and set to take over the world. The resurrected wronged time ends when the evil emperor is defeated.  The sorceress and her daughter lose immorality in completing task to stop the emperor.  We don’t know the effects of the water on Rick other then keeping him from death.  Actually the movie does also draw from passing on of purpose from father to son, which is a fairly common theme connected to resurrection, that our lives and purpose carry on through our children.

So you have themes of reconciliation, love, sacrifice, resurrection, and purpose. These themes all taken from a standard secular view.  The movie shows love is epitomized through the romantic relationships as well as passing on of through our children.  The secular view is also seen in the reconciliation of coming together under the common bond of purpose, which is that of fighting evil in the film. 

These messages are positive and uplifting and definitely being cause for reflection, but it misses the boat when compared to Christian beliefs. Evil has been defeated through Jesus at the Cross and no need to fear some mummy coming to life to conquer the world. Christians believe there will be on last great political figure intent on taking over the world and who will be defeated when Jesus returns.  My mother  felt a connection to the resurrection of the Saints related to the resurrection of the oppressed and unjustly killed.  However, the resurrection of the Saints will not be just a bunch of flesh rotted corpses and skeletons but with new bodies. 

As a Christian, love is vitally important but love doesn’t stop at those we care about. Love doesn’t stop and burgeoning romance.  Love is to be displayed toward all and not a love that looks out for own needs but matches what is shown in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (NIV) 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.

The essence of that love as played out in sacrifice is found only in Jesus who is the true fountain of eternal life.  Eternal life is not some mythical fountain or spring, it is found in the gift of Grace through the sacrifice of Jesus.  Jesus is the way the truth and the life.  Any sacrificial love on our part, is reflective of Jesus on the cross.  To have true eternal life, true resurrection, a person simply needs to accept Jesus sacrifice, and turn from the self-seeking and power grabbing that occurs in building kingdoms of self.  God has created true purposes for each person, things to do in the Kingdom of God that truly fulfill how you were created and no matter how successful you are, until you walk in the true purpose in the Kingdom of God you will not be satisfied.

Movie Commentary: Bella

From time to time on this blog I will make comments on movies, television shows, or other culturally significant issues. When I make comments on a movie I am not going to censor content. So if you do not want content spoiled it is best to read my thoughts after viewing said movie.  If I think a movie is not worth viewing I will state so up front.

            This weekend I watched the movie Bella with my wife and mother.  I had heard good things about this movie and heard it had a strong positive pro-life,  even pro-God/Christianity message. 

            In watching the film, I found the message to be rather straight forward. In terms of the message of the film I found it to be a mixed bag.  On the positive side, the movie definitely has a strong pro-life message. It stresses the importance of relationships and the value of life.  I did find the movie to contain more elements of kharmatic thought over essential Christian themes. 

            The main character essentially saves the life of a child, in essence undoing the life he cost.  It came off as promoting the good done to replace the bad. Some elements of it would seem to fit into an episode of  My Name is Earl without the humor. 

            It do admit that the movie does have a strong positive message. It does a good job of showing a character moving beyond being wrapped up in self and reaching out to others but again it comes off more as kharmatic versus essential Christianity. The main character even is shown with a guru-like, messiah type persona. Perhaps you could stretch the presentation to have allegorical references but the essential themes of the film do seem to fit kharmatic line of thought.

            In terms of the pro-life message I did find it to have value. However, I look at the content of the film and the emphasis on the life of the child and I see the persistent cultural theme of having a child is the apex of humanity. The film does a good job of contrasting selfish pursuit versus looking out for others. However, I do not see complete selflessness in the film. 

            The film did have some moments referencing God, including a blind-man interacting with the two main characters with a sign behind him stating “God made me blind so that I might see” (any errors are do to my faulty memory.)  If anyone who reads this blog and has different thoughts please share them. Am I missing something in this film?  Is the value of this film simply the pro-life message?  I would appreciate any comments.