Friday, February 17, 2012

Two fantastic cinematic reflections on Christian theology

I've been on holidays for the past few weeks. Yesterday I got to watch two films, both of which are profound reflections on christian theology

The first was Terrence Malicks "The tree of life". The film places a very particular, and ordinary, story, of growing up, of joy, of suffering and encountering death, sin and shame, in the context of protology (how things began) and eschatology (how it all ends). Malick's construction of eschatology is especially rewarding. On some levels it is a reworking of the daunting protology, only in a gracious key. His particular ability as a director is extracting complex emotions from his actors without dialogue, and this shows particularly in the wistful joy of the gracious final scene. The movie is an extended reflection on the book of Job, and it works marvelously.
I must give a warning though, this is a weird film. It is not a linear narrative. It is more lifelike than that. So, if you can't deal with a movie that makes you think..perhaps this isn't the movie for you. Also, I think this is a movie for philosophy and theology graduates. At least, they will get the most out of it. Malick makes interesting comments on all sorts of things that would, I think, be missed by most viewers. There are all sorts of allusions to scripture in the movie as well, though it is not specifically Christological.

Not like "of God's and Men". This film is essentially about how the resources of christian worship empower a bunch of christians to love their enemies. It is a mindblowingly good film to boot. I have never encountered a movie that is so explicitly christian, and wrestling with the questions of christians, yet also so well made. The film won the Grand Prix at Cannes. I especially enjoyed it's construal of martyrdom, not as the pursuit of death, but as the pursuit of love. The film is also full of wonderful hyms that I've never encountered before (then again, they are in french).

The takehome from both the films is that life is lived in the small decisions and interactions that we have with others. Even in the case of possible martyrdom, it is still just one person interacting with another.
Do see these films, they are both out on DVD

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Have you seen Melancholia? It's the only film I saw last year that rivals TOL.

- Daniel