Saturday, September 23, 2006

Time Bandits
by Terry Gilliam

Ok. I'll admit it... for those of you who haven't been paying attention; Terry Gilliam is definitely one of my favorite filmmakers. He has the unique ability to show you the strangest things in ways that bear out the most ordinary truths.

While Time Bandits isn't nearly as disturbing or intentionally thought provoking as Brazil, even when Gilliam's just having fun he can't seem to help himself. I think what I found most intriguing while viewing last night was just how much really good (and downright Orthodox) theology was woven throughout this film. In fact... I don't think this film would have been nearly as funny or effective had Gilliam not had a pretty good command of Christian Orthodoxy.

The scene that brought this to mind most was when Evil's minion points out that "even the Supreme Being can't be all bad since one of his creations was the dark lord himself" (my paraphrase). Followed up by one of my favorite lines concerning digital watches. And of course there is Kevin's question at the end when he ask's God why he allowed for evil in the first place, and God answers "freewill".

I'm not suggesting that Gilliam subscribes to Orthodox Theology, but he is certainly aware of it and at times the jabs he takes at it are very funny ;"the universe is a bit of a botch job.... we only had seven days to finish it." I wonder if most viewers (believers or not) appreciate the depth that this kind of comedy is rooted in.

Another film that comes to mind is the original "Bedazzled" Starring the 60's Comedy team Dudley Moore and Peter Cook (I have no idea if the remake is aware of any actual theology. The trailer I saw suggests not). Based on the classic story of "Faust", Dudley Moore is a looser fry cook who is offered the fultiment of his wildest dreams by Peter Cook, who plays Bealzabub himself. The only thing Dudley really wants is a relationship with a girl who visits the diner daily. So Dudley sells his soul... but he never seems to get the girl. As you can imagine the Devil is completely without scruples and so much smarter than Dudley. He's constantly twisting Dudley's requests to get the better of him. Did I mention Racquel Welsh plays "Lust" ?

Like "TimeBandits", "Bedazzled"uses comedy to weigh all sorts of heady Theological issues in the balance (and to take a poke or two at Christian belief).

I supposed I could be offended by these films but in a way I find them comforting. In a world where even many Christians don't know their doctrinal heritage these films seem like old friends (with a wicked sense of humor). I find that they both sharpen and challenge my beliefs. They may cause me to question why I believe them in the first place. Over the years I've found some things that I've believed have fallen to the wayside, some things I'm still working out... but the most important things have always held true. This sifting process is part of a growing faith.
A faith that can take (and even enjoys a good challenge) and not simply a list of beleifs that I take for granted and ocationally shore up to keep from getting flabby.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Brazil by Terry Gilliam

For those of you who missed it, our last Friday night movie was the extremely funny (and extremely disturbing) Sci-fi masterpiece Brazil. Terry Gilliam (of Monty Python fame) uses a potent combination of humor and perception to hold up a mirror and ask us if we like what we see. This is not unlike Fannery O'Conner's writing style. The fact is that we don't like what we see in the mirror and humor is the one way that we can stand to look at ourselves long enough to come to any lasting conclusions. In literary terms this kind of humor is called "grotesque". Framed in this way the truth can be compelling no matter how unflattering it may be. And since looking away doesn't seem to be an option, laughing is one way to come to terms with what we are watching. At it's best The Simpsons have mastered this kind of truth-telling.

So does that make Brazil or The Simpsons Christian? According to Flannery O'Conner; whether something is or isn't Christian relies soley on it's ability to "speak the truth". But I think for discussions it's probably best not to ask that question at all. Better to ask;" does it speak truth?... and is my response to the truth I see a Christian response. James talks about the man who looks in The mirror and then "...once he has gone away he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was." (Ja 1:24)

Historically it has been the Artist in society who has played the role of holding up the Mirror.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Welcome to my Blog

Welcome to Intro to Digital Media Arts...

The above image is from one of my all time favorite animated films, Hedgehog in the Fog, but you'll be hearing about that later. i just wanted to get my blog up before the rest of you and welcome you to the program. If everything goes as planed (which it almost never does) you'll be visiting this, and other blogs, quit frequently this semester. Hey, it beats writing papers