Because Reading Is Hard

Tuesday, July 17, AD 2012

This might be one of the saddest things I’ve ever read. No, it’s not some Womynpriest ranting about the Vatican, or a sportswriter waxing poetic about a “gritty” but otherwise terrible baseball player, or anything written by Thomas Friedman. It’s a list of “six films that improve the source material.” There’s nothing inherently wrong in suggesting that a movie is better than the book it is based upon. For starters, The Godfather movie is arguably better than the book as it doesn’t cut out any of the good parts but it does excise the superfluous and frankly bizarre sublot from the middle portion of the book. Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List was much powerful than Thomas Keneally’s Schindler’s Ark. And though I haven’t seen and don’t plan to see the latest film adaptation of Atlas Shrugged, it’s inconceivable that it could be any worse than the source material.

David R’s list, on the other hand, is a bit different.

The Social Network: Didn’t see the movie, didn’t read the book, and I generally don’t care.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: I never saw the movie. The book does drag in certain parts, but it’s still a classic. I’ll let this one go.

And now this is where he just gets nuts:

Pride and Prejudice (2005): 

I’m probably not the target audience for this particular book, what with being a 21st-century twenty-something male. That said, Pride and Prejudice has always struck me as a pretty good story wrapped up in circuitous, indirect writing. It’s light and frothy, and entertaining to an extent, but ultimately presented in a way that prevents me from really reaching out and connecting with the characters. I’m only passingly familiar with the much-adored BBC miniseries, but am under the impression that it more or less transcribes the book verbatim.

The 2005 version with Keira Knightley, on the other hand, does a much better job streamlining the story into a vibrant, energetic romance. It still retains the story’s amusingly frivolous air, but in a way that, for this viewer at least, renders the story both funnier and more touching than the original novel. Side characters are exaggerated, losing complexity but gaining a more tangible sense of fun — particularly in the case of one Mr. Collins. Director Joe Wright manages to make the dancing and socializing so much fun to watch that you can actually understand why so many people would show up to these parties. And the movie is simply gorgeous in a way that only a movie can be.

Speaking as a fellow 21st Century male, this is heresy. As I wrote on facebook, this isn’t even the best film adaption of this story.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: 

While the Harry Potter books are enjoyable for the most part, there are some notable problems with the series. One of the most obvious is J.K. Rowling’s tendency to veer off on wild tangents that derail the forward momentum of her stories. It looks like her editors were able to keep her on track for the first three books (with the third being the series’ best), but by the fourth she had become too popular for that. The Goblet of Fire— which, at 752 pages, is a whole book longer than any of the first three books — was filled with wandering storylines: S.P.E.W., the Quidditch World Cup, and plenty of other bits nearly cripple the already improbable storyline.

Screenwriter Steve Kloves and director Mike Newell took a scalpel to the book, skillfully extracting the core plot and character threads while leaving behind nearly everything that didn’t matter. Gone are the unnecessary distractions, bringing the characters and growing menace of the story to the forefront. And the movie still retains much of the detail that makes up the world, like Rita Skeeter, the Unforgivable Curses, or the eerie world of the Triwizard Tournament. It just never gets so enamored with any of these ideas that it forgets why we came in the first place.

Kloves and Newell didn’t take a scalpel to the book; they obliterated essential sublots and cut out fun little diversions. I recognize that tastes vary, but Goblet of Fire is the best book in the series in my mind particularly because of the fun little side excursions. Yes, I might be one of the few people who doesn’t hate the S.P.E.W. supblot, but that aside the movie just falls flat. Also, as my wife has pointed out, the climactic maze scene in the race for the Triwizard Cup is completely bland, as though they just ran out of money in their CGI budget. Rowling’s description of that part of the tournament is so much more vivid than what the filmmakers came up with.

It only gets worse.


This is kind of an apples-and-oranges situation. The Iliad (not The Aeneid, like I thoughtlessly wrote earlier) is an ancient epic poem; Troy, a modern action film. They’re going after completely different things, going about their aims in completely different ways, and generally couldn’t be further apart from each other without being entirely unrelated stories.

That said, I don’t get a whole lot out of Homer’s original. The way the gods act in his text is distracting, particularly when they swoop into the middle of a battle to remove key players from the action. Homer’sOdyssey includes gods and fantastical creatures much better. Then again, the main conflict in The Odyssey is between men and gods (or at least men and fate). The Iliad’s conflict is much more between men; two nations are at war. In the film Troy, the gods were taken completely out of the story, allowing the focus to fall squarely on the war waged over petty revenge and hubris. The human element is much more important, allowing the story to resonate more for its human viewers.

This make me weep openly, as Achilles did at the death of Patroclus. Leaving aside Homer’s epic, Troy was one of the most wretched movies ever put on screen. Troy wouldn’t be  an improvement over a Dan Brown novel, let alone freaking Homer.

And for number one:

War of the Worlds (2005):

Before you burn me at the stake, let me clarify. I’m a huge H.G. Wells fan, and if you remove the different versions from their cultural context I don’t know that one is better than the other. However, War of the Worlds is one of those stories that deserves to be retold every now and then, as it can offer a lot of commentary on different periods in history. The first film adaptation was of reasonably high quality; it (like much of that era’s science fiction) pitched the story against the fears and imagery of the Cold War.

In the early 2000s, Spielberg came to a realization, “I thought that this story’s time had come again.” It was a stroke of brilliance to deal with 9/11 through H. G. Wells’s century-old classic. The images in the movie arise very organically out of the story, but the specter of 9/11 hangs over the event. Missing-person posters, victims covered in dust, military trying to keep the peace. This allows Spielberg and writer David Koepp to use the text to examine the paranoia and weaknesses of our current society, and as a member of that society, this is somewhat more compelling and noticeably more relevant today than Wells’s book, while still retaining the lean structure and addictive concept that make up the core of the story.

It’s not as bad as favoring Brad Pitt’s version of Achilles over Homer’s, but it’s still pretty silly. Spielberg is a great director, but his inability to constrain his own innate Spielbergness fails to do Wells justice.

The frustrating thing is that the author doesn’t appear to be some high school kid who really hates books. He seems fairly literate, and he’s a decent writer. Yet his reasoning for most of these selections is that he just can’t deal with the long slog of reading books that have plot points he can’t relate to. Or, as one commenter put it:

This is less a post about movies that improve the source material and more about the author’s inability to enjoy a complex novel.

I can understand, and as I said, tastes vary. That being said, David R should be banned from public commentary for the rest of eternity.

Oh, I do need to address one of the comments to the linked article:

Just wanted to say that the Lord of the Rings movies are worlds better than the books for a number of reasons, but the one most worth mentioning being the total excision of Tom Bombadil from the screen.

Not only should this person be banned from public commentary for all eternity, he should be shunned by polite society and forced to live in seclusion with nothing but the Twilight books to keep him company.

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12 Responses to Because Reading Is Hard

  • Wherein you report on the “fruits” of public education . . .

  • First, ‘Pride and Prejudice’ – THE movie – with Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier from the 1940’s managed to develop manners, morals, virtues, character, love and ‘fun’ with a lot left to the imagination. Mind over matter. Contemporary productions aren’t for the mind. So, vehicles that could inspire just feed fashion markets, outre behavior and the viewer’s desires.

    “That said, Pride and Prejudice has always struck me as a pretty good story wrapped up in circuitous, indirect writing. It’s light and frothy, and entertaining to an extent, but ultimately presented in a way that prevents me from really reaching out and connecting with the characters.”

    Skip the character development and go for the action – third millenium culture. Reading Jane Austen prevented connecting with characters ?!

  • @PM, The BBC P&P miniseries is by far the best version I’ve ever seen, beating out even Lawrence Olivier. However, it being a miniseries (3 hours long, I believe) they had a lot more time to get into the nuance of P&P. That being said, the book is wonderful and none of the movie versions, even my favorite one, do it complete justice.

    @ Paul Zummo, the only quibbles have with you is over S.P.E.W. That was a subplot that annoyed the snot out of me. However, I was disappointed that they didn’t go more into the discrimination themes that S.P.E.W. and the whole subplots involving the house elves brought about. The plight of the magical creatures, especially the house elves, was such a recurring theme that it made it all the more important when Dobby’s big moment came in the last book. And you really miss that when you go five movies without seeing him.

  • The Lord of the Rings movie left out one of my favorite parts, the setting the shire to rights near the end of the book. A movie couldn’t do the book justice. And the Harry Potter movies cut out way too much. And most of them made me feel like I wanted to take off my sunglasses, but I wasn’t wearing sunglasses. Just because the theme is dark doesn’t mean the film should be dimly lit.

  • “He seems fairly literate, and he’s a decent writer.”

    How anyone who can confuse the Aeneid with the Iliad can be described as “literate” baffles me.

    Jane Austen should be, of all novelists, the easiest to adapt to the screen, as her technique is so largely dramatic; she develops character principally through dialogue. On the other hand, I have often wondered why anyone thought it a good idea to dramatize “The Portrait of Dorian Gray.” When the leading dramatist of his age decided to tell the story through the medium of a novel, it i a bold person indeed, who decides to second-guess him. One might as well try making a novel out of Hamlet or Phèdre.

  • Part of me would love to see Tim Powers’ novels Declare or The Stress Of Her Regard made into movies, but a bigger part of me realizes that too much would be compromised for time, and the essences of the stories and complexities of the characters would be sacrificed.

    I can’t comment on On Stranger Tides being adapted for Pirates of the Caribbean 23 or whatever part they ended on, as I haven’t seen the movie, and refuse to do so.

  • “Just wanted to say that the Lord of the Rings movies are worlds better than the books for a number of reasons, but the one most worth mentioning being the total excision of Tom Bombadil from the screen.”

    “Not only should this person be banned from public commentary for all eternity, he should be shunned by polite society and forced to live in seclusion with nothing but the Twilight books to keep him company.”

    Or The Hunger Games series.

  • Unfortunately, some books are just not really adaptable to the big screen. Although it seems most modern novels are written with more than half an eye toward their big screen debut (the HP series seemed to exhibit this, particularly with the later books). Just finished reading Father Elijah, and although the book is good, and the basic plat seems it would make for an interesting film, so much occurs in the characters’ psyche that it would be difficult to translate to the screen. If it did, I could see someone thinking the film an improvement undoubtedly because it would have more “action” and less contemplation of big questions than the book. But to me, that would be an unfair assessment because of the differing purposes of the respective media.

  • I think LoTR could have been adapted to the screen better, but I suspect that the writer / producer / director did not share any of Tolkien’s commitments to a transcendental / hierarchical, universe, among other things. Credo ut intellegam, indeed.

    This becomes especially apparent in a scene from the extended version of RoTK where the King of the Nazgul mystically shatters Gandalf’s staff on the walls of Minas Tirith. The staff – the symbol of Gandalf’s status – shattered by a Nazgul? The staff of Gandalf – Olorin – recently elevated to the head of the enfleshed Maia on earth? What a stunning inversion!

    This article, coincidentally showing up this morning, does a very good job of describing it:

  • Comparing Troy to The Iliad “is kind of an apples-and-oranges situation”. That “kind of” may be the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time.

  • I’m thinking “Howard the Duck” maybe?

  • I’m surprised Jaws didn’t make the list. The novel was pretty much forgettable.. the movie on the other hand, not so much.

1988: Best Year Ever!

Friday, February 18, AD 2011

Advisory Warning: The video is rated R for skimpy clothing and suggestive sexual behavior.  Youth should receive permission from their mother or father to view this video.

I’m a sucker for anything ’80s as you can tell, but you have to admit that it was pretty tamed back then compared to today.  You could say that the 1980s today is what the 1950s were back then, but much more fun!

Take Me Home Tonight is a movie in in the summer of 1988 as it winds down.  Three friends on the verge of adulthood attend an out-of-control party in celebration of their last night of unbridled youth. Starring Topher Grace, Anna Faris, Dan Fogler and Teresa Palmer.  Take Me Home Tonight is a raunchy, romantic and ultimately touching blast from the past set to an awesome soundtrack of timeless rock and hip-hop hits.

Raunchy is an understatement.

Nonetheless I probably wouldn’t let anyone under the age of 17 watch it.

Here’s the trailer.

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13 Responses to 1988: Best Year Ever!

  • Tito,

    The 80s were totally awesome, I mean radical, or tubular; however, comparing them to the 1950s, even in relation to today’s cultural breakdown may be an overstatement. I think the cultural chasm brought about in the 60s and 70s is way too vast. Although, all those hippies began to assert their influence when one of them became president in 1992 and now a generation later the kids are more screwed up than ever. I did not know that oral was not considered sex – it sure was in the 80s. The culture is getting worse by the minute, but I think it changed in cataclysmic and dramatic ways from the mid 60s through the 70s – ah, and then it was morning again in America.

    Man, I really miss my flux capacitor. 🙂

  • This is complete nonsense. Everyone knows that 1986 is the best year of the 80s.

  • AK,

    1992 was the end of Morning in America.

    I still believe the 80s were the best decade of the century.

    How many music videos can you name from the 1920s?

  • Tito,

    I am not so sure about 1992. I think that Morning ended in 1989 when Mr. New World Order, read my lips, thousand points of light took over the White House, but 1993 was especially bad, of course, 2009 was the worst.

    I can’t recall any Big Band videos from the 20s, of course, that was before my time. There is no question that the 80s were the best decade. The music, even the bad music was more or less happy. Today it is either a bubble gum product, a prostitute product or just a bunch of whiny wussies that can’t play instruments. It is all Owen Wilson music, kinda makes you wanna cut your wrists 🙁 What’s with this Beiber kid, I don’t get it.

    Heck, even Madonna Louise wasn’t that bad back then.

    In the words of Patrick Bateman: Do you like Hewy Louis and the News?

    And Jeff Spicolli: No shirt, No shoes, No dice! Hey, where’d you get this jacket?

  • I agree with Paul that 1986 was the best year of the ’80s, although for different reasons.

    Van High School
    Class of ’86

  • I am very grateful to have come of age in the 80’s. It was a great time – comparatively speaking (vs 60s, 70’s, 90’s). It was the end of the cesspool era that began when the Boomers came of age yet before the Boomers’ kids turn.

    It was indeed like a new dawn. People were bathing again, the fashions (while still laughable like all viewed post-mortom) were clean looking and pointed forward – even the torn clothing of the dance crowd wasn’t ragged, it was like precision cuts for effect. 🙂

    Ronald Reagan was president and he was largely just a common man doing good things and inspiring.

    The great rock bands from the 60’s and 70’s were still doing great things, even if pop music still sucked as it changed (though I have a lot more tolerance for some of the pop now than I did then).

    This new pope, John Paul II, was a story in himself. 🙂

    The cool new technologies were ramping up and they too pointed forward.

    We witnessed the death throes of the Evil Empire.

    The primary bad cultural things were hookups were just as much or more prevalent than in the 70’s (until AIDS came on the scene) and drug use was technically growing. Wasn’t uncommon for people in bars to be doing coke out in the open.

  • No way, y’all. 1985 was THE best year of the 80’s. You know why? I was in 2nd grade and received my First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion. Yeah, man, ’85 was awesome.

  • “I remember my youth and the feeling that will never come back any more –the feeling that I could last for ever, outlast the sea, the earth, and all men; the deceitful feeling that lures us on to joys, to perils, to love, to vain effort –to death; the triumphant conviction of strength, the heat of life in the handful of dust, the glow in the heart that with every year grows dim, grows cold, grows small, and expires –and expires, too soon, too soon –before life itself.” Joseph Conrad, “Youth”

    Tex: For me, that is 1957.

    Read more:
    on Quotations Book

  • The late 70s and early 80s weren’t all that wonderful in terms of world events or popular culture — remember “America Held Hostage,” the Marines killed in Lebanon, the recession of 1981-82 (it hit particularly hard in Central Illinois with a prolonged strike at Caterpillar, plus other industries closing), DC-10s falling out of the sky, the Soviet misadventure in Afghanistan, Iran-Contra, the rise of AIDS, MTV, Madonna, New Coke, linebacker-size shoulder pads for women…. you get the picture.

    For me personally, however, it was a great time simply because that is the era when I was going to high school and college. No matter what is happening in the world when you are in your late teens and early 20s, you usually remember it fondly for the rest of your life simply because you were young and relatively carefree then.

  • I was home schooled in the late 80’s; don’t remember much of popular culture; parents raised us without a television. . . . however, I do recognize that rocker doing the cover of ‘Don’t You Want Me Baby’. He was the only computer programmer I know who quit his day job to become a rock star and actually succeeded.

    Never in my wildest dreams would I expect to encounter him on American Catholic. Small world. Thank you, Tito, for throwing me for a loop. =)

  • Christopher,

    You were raised better than I was… homeschooled and no tv, much better than being exposed to the banality of a worldly culture.

  • I kind of want to see that movie.

    And what is it with Topher Grace and making tv and movies about past decades?

  • Should I be proud or embarrassed that I could name every one of the references in the first video?

    The hard thing about making a movie about the 80s is that so many great 80s movies were already made . . . in the 80s. And John Cusack is too old now. Topher Grace looks like he might fill those shoes pretty well, but I wonder if they’ll be able to get the innocence (at least by today’s standards) of that era right.

Susannah York of ‘A Man For All Seasons’, Requiescat In Pace

Sunday, January 16, AD 2011

Susannah York succumbed to cancer this past Friday at the age of 72.

She is best remembered for portraying Saint Thomas More‘s daughter, Margaret More, in what is arguably the greatest Catholic film of all time, A Man For All Seasons.

She was very beautiful and enchanting and her role as Margaret More captured the essences of an integrated Catholic life that is an excellent example for laypeople everywhere today.

The following clip is that of the King paying his Lord Chancellor, Saint Thomas More, a visit on his estate.  The King encounters More’s family and is introduced to More’s daughter, Margaret, at the :45 mark of the clip.  They engage in conversation at the 1:32 mark of the clip.  The entire 10 minutes should be viewed to really enjoy her performance and appreciate the film itself:

Here is the trailer to that magnificent Catholic film, A Man For All Seasons:

Post script:  I was unable to find out if Susannah York was a Catholic or not, but her portrayal of Margaret More is a fine example of living a Catholic life.

Cross-posted at Gulf Coast Catholic.

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8 Responses to Susannah York of ‘A Man For All Seasons’, Requiescat In Pace

Sneak Peak At There Be Dragons Movie Trailer

Thursday, July 29, AD 2010


The famous director of the movies The Mission and The Killing Fields, Roland Joffe, has just released a trailer teaser to his new film he is producing that encapsulates the early life of Saint Josemaria Escriva.

The film is about a news reporter investigating the life of his father where he discovers that his father was a lifelong friend of Saint Josemaria Escriva.

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9 Responses to Sneak Peak At There Be Dragons Movie Trailer

Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and Willis Together Finally

Saturday, July 3, AD 2010

Sly, Ahnold, and Bruno finally make my dream action flick I’ve been waiting for since the 1980’s called the Expendables.

Unfortunately, Ahnold and Bruce only make a cameo appearance.  But the film is packed with 80’s and contemporary action stars, from Dolph Lundgren to the under-rated Jason Statham.

The rest of the film looks real good, so I’ll be watching this movie at my first opportunity.

Here is a preview from Reuters:

It is the action hero dream team. Sylvester Stallone will shoot a scene with Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger soon for his upcoming adventure “The Expendables,” due to hit theatres in 2010.

The man behind the successful Rambo and Rocky franchises has also brought Jason Statham, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke and Dolph Lundgren on board for the story of a team of mercenaries who head to South America on a mission to overthrow a dictator.

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8 Responses to Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and Willis Together Finally

  • Stop beating around the bush Tito! We all know the real question here! Who would win in a fight: Rambo, the Terminator or the cop from Die Hard? One of the burning unresolved philosophical questions from the last century!

  • This movie is a must see for me. That’s a hard one to answer Don. My pick is Rambo. I have to be honest my favorite isn’t among the actors- Chuck Norris. I believe that Chuck could kick all their butts.

  • It’s a draw between Ahnold and Sly.

    I just find it hard to see an NYP hardcase beat up on two weapons and survival experts.

    As for Chuck, that’s a different universe.

  • Wow, that is great news. I usually can’t bother with the expense, dirt, noise, crowds of a movie theater, but for this I will make an exception. But that question. Tough.

    I think that the Terminator can be defeated – after all Sarah Connor ‘killed’ him once, in the past, or is that the future? Whatever. As for Rambo and McClane, I suppose that has to do with the setting. I mean Rambo ran circles around Brian Dennehy and David Addison couldn’t stand a chance against him, but McClane, he is more like Rocky, he keeps getting his behind kicked, he bleeds, he gets knocked down and yet he keeps coming. Drago said of Rocky, “He’s not human. He’s like a piece of Iron.”

    Rambo is better than Commando.
    Arnold did beat the Predator, but I think Rambo can take the Terminator.
    Cobra would lose to McClane.
    Since McClane is more like Rocky than Rambo is – I give it to John McClane – yippee ki-yay!

    In any event, I am pretty sure that Clint Eastwood could beat any of them. And we all know that John Wayne kicks Eastwood’s behind.

    So the winner is Hondo or Rooster G.

  • From Rick Atksinson’s second ETO book, a GI (in Naples) asked Bogart how he could buy a pistol like the one Bogie used in “Sahara” that could fire 16 shots without reloading. Bogie said, “Hollywood is a wonderful place.” That was before the Glock 9mm.

  • Wayne? Are you kidding me?

    “You feeling lucky, punk?!?”

  • hi folks i cannot wait 4 the expendables to come out! It’s going to be awsum!

Top Ten Patriotic Movies for the Fourth

Wednesday, June 30, AD 2010

Last year I listed here my top ten picks for movies about the America Revolution for the Fourth.  This year here is my list of patriotic movies for the Fourth.

10. National Treasure (2004)-Sure it’s cursed with a ridiculous plot involving the masons and a treasure, it is still a lot of fun and calls us back to the foundation document, the Declaration of Independence, that is the cornerstone of our Republic.

9. Hamburger Hill (1987)-Content advisory: very, very strong language in the video clip which may be viewed here.  All the Vietnam veterans I’ve mentioned it to have nothing but praise for this film which depicts the assault on Hill 937 by elements of the 101rst Division, May 10-20, 1969.  It is a fitting tribute to the valor of the American troops who served their country in an unpopular war a great deal better than their country served them.

8.    Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)-James Cagney in perhaps the greatest film bio of them all, a salute to George M. Cohan, the legendary composer, playwright and patriot.

7.    The Alamo (1960)-“The Republic” scene from The Alamo, a film which was basically John Wayne’s love note to America.

6.    Gettysburg (1993)-The movie that I think comes the closest to conveying to us the passions of the Civil War.  You really can’t understand America unless you understand the Civil War.  As Shelby Foote, one of the greatest historians of the war, said:  “Any understanding of this nation has to be based, and I mean really based, on an understanding of the Civil War. I believe that firmly. It defined us. The Revolution did what it did. Our involvement in European wars, beginning with the First World War, did what it did. But the Civil War defined us as what we are and it opened us to being what we became, good and bad things. And it is very necessary, if you are going to understand the American character in the twentieth century, to learn about this enormous catastrophe of the mid-nineteenth century. It was the crossroads of our being, and it was a hell of a crossroads.”

5.    Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)This movie came out at a time when fascism and communism seemed to be the wave of the future.  In the face of that dark reality, Mr. Smith is a brilliant paean to American democracy, and the idealism and devotion to the principles of the Founding Fathers that constantly battles against political corruption.

4.    Glory (1989)-The tale of the 54th Massachusetts in the Civil War, and a long overdue salute to the black troops who fought for the Union.  A superb film in every regard, and a model of  how history should be recreated on film.

3.    Wake Island (1942)-At the beginning of World War II the 1rst Marine Defense Battalion on Wake Island, gallantly supported by civilian workers, made an unforgettable stand against the Japanese.  This is the story of the American Thermopylae.

2.  Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940)-Raymond Massey gives the performance of a life time as the greatest President this nation has ever had, save, perhaps, for George Washington.

1. 1776  (1972)-Singing and dancing Founding Fathers!  What’s not to love?  The film does a good job of depicting what a leap of faith the Declaration of Independence was.  For all the Founding Fathers knew, they could have all ended up dangling from British nooses, and cursed by their posterity.  They banished their fears and went boldly forward with their revolution, the most successful revolution in history, and which is still underway.

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15 Responses to Top Ten Patriotic Movies for the Fourth

  • “God gave us memory so that we could have roses in December.” J. M. Barries

  • That should be “Barrie.”

  • 1776? Yuck, I hated that movie.

    However, I do love the pick for “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

  • Why is The Alamo on the list of patriotic movies? That battle was part of the Texas War for Independence. It has nothing to do with any part of the US outside of Texas. I agree there needs to be a John Wayne movie on the list but pick something patriotic to all 50 states like The Green Berets or the Sands of Iwo Jima.

  • “That battle was part of the Texas War for Independence. It has nothing to do with any part of the US outside of Texas.”

    “To The People of Texas and
    All Americans In The World —
    February 24, 1836

    Fellow citizens & compatriots —
    I am beseiged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna — I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man — The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken — I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls — I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism, & every thing dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch — The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country —


    William Barret Travis
    Lt. Col. Comdt.

    P.S. The Lord is on our side — When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn — We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels & got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves -“

  • That’s great that you can quote COL Travis, and he calls on American qualities, but so have many others around the world and the Alamo is still only relevant to Texan patriotism.

  • He called on all Americans in the world for aid. It is not only Texans who remember the Alamo.

  • Okay, I’m gonna have to send a little love towards 1776. I first saw it on a field trip in elementary school, and even then, the final scene where each man signs the Declaration and takes his place (ala Trumbull’s symbolic painting) while the Liberty Bell tolls sent chills up my spine. It really impressed on me the seriousness of the undertaking.

  • “while the Liberty Bell tolls sent chills up my spine.”

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who has that reaction!

  • I have posted what I believe to be the 13 best Patriotic movies for Independence day. (One for each of the thirteen original colonies.) Check it out at:

  • How could you leave out The Patriot ?

  • I had it on my top ten revolutionary war films for the Fourth.

  • Meh. I’ll stick my neck out and say I don’t think The Patriot was a very good movie.

  • Have to agree with Darwin. Will risk any run-in with Mel.

C.S. Lewis Book, The Great Divorce, Coming to the Big Screen

Wednesday, June 23, AD 2010

The following is from Alex Birko of the A.V. Club reporting on C.S. Lewis‘s book, The Great Divorce, being produced into a movie:

Last week marked the arrival of the trailer for the third “Chronicles Of Narnia” movie, The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader, and as everybody knows, C.S. Lewis news always comes in twos. It appears that Lewis’ religious allegory The Great Divorce is the latest of his work be slated for the big screen, according to Variety’s announcement that production studios Beloved Pictures and Mpower Pictures are joining forces to co-produce. Children’s author N.D. Wilson, known for the 100 Cupboards fantasy trilogy and his parodies of the Left Behind series, is attached to adapt the screenplay. With luck, the arrival of Mpower (The Stoning Of Soroya M.) will jump-start the project, and let it avoid the seemingly never-ending gestation plaguing the film adaptation of Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, which was announced back in 2006, scheduled for a 2008 release, and delayed until 2010. It’s seen little discernable progress since.

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12 Responses to C.S. Lewis Book, The Great Divorce, Coming to the Big Screen

  • OK, now, technically, Lewis was a universalist, like George MacDonald, who serves as the Virgil to his Dante. However, the views of _The Great Divorce_ are “unconventional” only to Protestants, as it is really Lewis’s take on Purgatory.

  • GodsGadfly,

    Lewis was a universalist

    I’m pretty sure he was an Anglican. And a Anglo-Catholic at that.

    Unless you’re referring to something else?

  • Lewis was a universalist? I wasn’t aware that it was his soteriological view at all; in fact, I have a hard time — given my knowledge of his other views — believing that Lewis was a universalist. He explicitly says things that would lead one to conclude otherwise particularly when talking about Hell.

  • I should note that the Christian hope for salvation for everyone–for no one deserves or earns on their own accord the gift of Heaven–is not the same thing as the so-called doctrine of universalism.

    There is a difference for holding onto the radical hope that no one should ever have to face the reality of Hell, a reality so unimaginable, undesirable, and horrendous that there should be a deep fervor in all Christians that we should hope and pray fervently that by responding to God’s grace and/or God’s unfathomable mercy that all poor sinners are delivered from the menacing threat of eternal damnation. This view does not necessitate the heretical assumptions that there is no Hell, that no one goes to Hell, or that eternal punishment is incompatible with God’s mercy.

  • Eric has it right on Lewis (and why Balthasar consistently quoted Lewis in his works when dealing with eschatology). Lewis isn’t a universalist, because he made it clear universalism would lead to a rejection of free will. But he did hold out that the intuition of George MacDonald would be shown true — that while it is not necessary that everyone will be saved, it is possible that everyone will. This hope is what is expressed at the end of The Great Divorce. Lewis directly questions MacDonald in it, and MacDonald says, quite rightfully, “We don’t know the end.” That is indeed where we stand, and why we must work out our own salvation with much fear and trembling while hoping that Christ’s grace will lead us to that salvation.

  • I don’t know how I feel about this. I love Lewis, but I think there’s less room to be artistic (as opposed to Screwtape, which i thought could have the gaps between the letters filled imaginatively). Being less room, I fear room will be created. Oh well; let’s hope it comes out well.

  • From the synopsis provided by Mpower:

    Story centers on a man who learns that the sprawling, dim metropolis where he’s been living is actually Hell; he hops on a bus headed for the outskirts of Elsewhere, only to discover that the one place worse than Hell, for a self-absorbed ad executive, just might be Heaven.

    it sounds like it might be headed into clicheville. Is there any lazier Hollywood shorthand for bad guy in need of redemption than “self-absorbed ad executive”? Variations included businessman-who-works-too-hard, salesman-who-has-no-time-for-his-kids, etc. (Not CEOs, though. In Hollywoodland, CEOs are beyond redemption and have no souls.)

  • I am not optimistic.

    The protagonist of the book was, of course, Lewis himself, with the book taking place as a dream, and the solid blocks of light crushing his ghostly existence during Heaven’s dawn at the end are only the books of his reading-table which, in his slumber, he had pulled down on his own head.

    So, “self-absorbed ad executive” indicates right away that they’re taking liberties.

    Lewis was no universalist.

    But I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that Hollywood’s version of The Great Divorce is a lot of universalist, “all religions are the same” claptrap.

    Certainly they’ll have to put in a Christian who got damned for believing too much in the exclusivity of his faith. (Now if that Christian should happen to be Father Feeney, fair enough. But they wouldn’t stop there: They’ll make it a “reactionary” Catholic bishop whose sin was a lack of charity, exhibited by his exclusion of a pro-choice politician from communion, or some such thing.)

    One of the best characters in the book is the heretical Anglican clergyman whose apostasy, far from derailing his career, won him book deals and a bishopric.

    A true-to-Lewis film would take this character, self-consciously pattern him after Shelby Spong, and make it utterly unquestionable (as it was in the book) that the man is ultimately a damned soul, and deservedly so.

    But will they do that, in a film?

    C’mon. What’re the odds?

    And what’re the odds that the woman who loved her son too possessively will still, in the movie, be a woman? Nah. She’ll have become a man. Probably a distant father who wasn’t sufficiently accepting of his son’s homosexuality, or some such thing.

    Lewis’s book makes it clear that a person who rejects Christ is in hell, and that it’s deserved, and their own fault. And that Purgatory is the process by which a soul filled with self-love is purged of that self-love because as they themselves, wrenchingly, finally relinquish the last poisonous bits of it, they are thereby choosing to love Christ above all else, and thus become, for the first time, truly human souls.

    If that message gets past Hollywood’s Satanic censoring, it will be such a miracle as to possibly presage the imminent Second Coming.

    Which event I anticipate much sooner than any cinematic version of The Great Divorce that does it justice.

  • R.C.

    The one big hope that they would be close to Lewis’ spirit: the executors of Lewis’ estate would not let the right go without it.

  • I don’t know Henry; I want to be optimistic about this, but Lewis’s estates’s executors did let that diluted and shallower version of Prince Caspian go to production.

  • R.C.,

    I wouldn’t be too worried about it. One of the producers is a former executive for Icon (i.e. Passion of the Christ) and the screenwriter is solid Christian whose father is a pastor and huge Lewis, Tolken, Chesterton, Sayers fan. I imagine that some liberties might be taken in translation from book to film, but only because of the difference in medium.

  • And every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.

Under the Roman Sky

Monday, June 21, AD 2010

A new film, Under the Roman Sky, starring James Cromwell as Pius XII, details the heroic efforts of Pius XII to save the Jews of Rome from the Nazis, after Rome came under Nazi occupation subsequent to the fall of Mussolini following the Allied invasion of southern Italy in 1943.

Rabbi David G. Dalin, in his review of a Moral Reckoning, a tome by Daniel Goldhagen which sought to blame Catholicism for the Holocaust, details the efforts of the Pope to save the Jews of Rome:

Goldhagen’s centerpiece is the outrageous allegation that Pius XII “did not lift a finger to forfend the deportations of the Jews of Rome” or of other parts of Italy “by instructing his priests and nuns to give the hunted Jewish men, women and children sanctuary.”  Much of this is lifted straight from anti-Pius books like Susan Zuccotti’s Under His Very Windows–and thus Goldhagen repeats the errors of those books and adds extras, all his own, in his determined attempt to extend their thesis into over-the-top railings against the sheer existence of Catholicism.

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4 Responses to Under the Roman Sky

  • I may be wrong. I think Goldhagen’s and Zuccotti’s fictionalizations would be classified “calumny” and “detraction.”

  • I believe too much attention is paid to the books attacking Pius XII. Goldhagen has lied; Cornwall has lied. They are like weeds in the garden, impossible to eradicate completely. One can but let them be treated as Our Lord recommends we treat chaff. We have better things to do.

  • “We have better things to do.”

    Whatever the situation there are usually better things to do. However, responding to calumnies of this degree against Pius XII is an important thing to do. People will believe this rot unless Catholics respond with the truth, loudly, clearly and frequently.

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Gibbon, Hypatia and Bigotry

Monday, June 7, AD 2010

One of my favorite historians is Edward Gibbon.  I have made my way through his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire several times.  I find his style entertaining, his wit dry, and his scholarship, for his time, adequate.  Unfortunately Gibbon was also an anti-Catholic bigot, in part a reaction to a brief conversion to the Faith as a teen-ager, which exposed him to considerable paternal displeasure.  His bigotry is on full display whenever he treats of the Church, but usually he does not distort the facts.  That was not the case in his account of the female philosopher Hypatia, and the fate she met in Egypt in 391 AD.  That account, usually in distorted form, is a staple of anti-Catholic and atheist websites.  Now Hypatia is the heroine of a Catholic bashing movie Agora. The English trailer of the movie is at the top of this post.  David Hart has a superb post at First Things correcting Gibbon and the movie.

The occasion of my misery is the release of Alejandro Amenábar’s film Agora, which purports to be a historical account of the murder of the female philosopher Hypatia by a Christian mob in the early fifth century, of the destruction of the Great Library of Alexandria, and (more generally) of an alleged conflict that raged in the ancient world between Greek science and Christian faith. I have not actually seen the movie, and have no intention of doing so (I would say you couldn’t pay me to watch it, but that’s not, strictly speaking, true). All I know about it is what I have read in an article by Larry Rohter in the New York Times. But that is enough to put my teeth on edge.

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2 Responses to Gibbon, Hypatia and Bigotry

  • It just won’t stop will it?

    Thank goodness for Catholic New Media to expose this sort of bigotry.

  • Here art imitates bigotry.

    Found a pithy article by a Preston Chesser on the burning of the library.

    If I (a total anti-islamist) were employing the same “scholarship” (must support the agenda) as many of today’s academics, I’d use the following (deleting from Chesser that which doesn’t advance the agenda/narrative) as a base.

    “In 640 AD the Moslems took the city of Alexandria. Upon learning of ‘a great library containing all the knowledge of the world’ the conquering general supposedly asked Caliph Omar for instructions. The Caliph has been quoted as saying of the Library’s holdings, ‘they will either contradict the Koran, in which case they are heresy, or they will agree with it, so they are superfluous.’ So, allegedly, all the texts were destroyed by using them as tinder for the bathhouses of the city.”

    The director could get beheaded for that . . .

11 Responses to The Infidel

  • Many errors with this premise. But let’s assume it could be as it was — would you think it good if they did a show called The Pagan about someone who thought they were baptized and found out they were not? Or someone who thought they were a priest and not?

  • That is hilarious Tito! No doubt the humor impaired will deny it, but it is!

  • Here is a clip from the Four Lions, a comedy about four inept British muslim terrorists.

  • What if someone did a show about “someone who thought they were a priest and were not?”

    I dunno about that, but I have seen that premise done in reverse — someone who WAS a priest and thought they weren’t. The character of John Black on “Days of Our Lives” (Drake Hogestyn), when he entered the story about 20 years ago or so, had been brainwashed, or had amnesia, or something, and forgotten his previous identity. Only after his beloved Marlena (Deirdre Hall) became possessed by the devil did he discover that he had been a priest in his past life, and he ended up exorcising the evil spirit from her. Then, of course, he dropped his vocation like a hot potato.

  • LOL!

    “I used an I.R.A. voice.”

    I will be putting that on my Netflix cue now.

  • There have also been several comedies where everyone thinks someone is a priest when in fact he is not.

  • Too funny… I agree that in premise it has errors. Any Jew or other religion can be accepted into the Muslim community. In Islam it is believed that every one is born Muslim – period. If you say you are Christian – Jew or other – you are wrong and need to be corrected through Dawa first.

    But this is histerical, I can only imagine how it will turn out and who will be upset about it….

  • Nice to see the Brits haven’t yet succumbed to political correctness!

  • CMinor,

    They may well be the last bastion of common sense left in Europe!

  • The fact that Islam accepts conversions from any faith (which faith doesn’t?) doesn’t delegitimate the story, since Jewishness is perceived ethnically as well as religiously. There are secular Jews just as there are secular people from a Christian background, etc. The fact is that people who’ve found out they’re Jewish halfway thru life- and there are many, for obvious reasons – are generally turned upside down by the news. What’s more interesting is why a filmmaker would feel this premise is important to us now as something to laugh at and learn from – it’s the zeitgeist and a conversation (and laughter) that needs to be had.

  • Interesting that Islam isn’t so tolerant when people convert away from Islam.

Res et Explicatio for AD 2-3-2010

Wednesday, February 3, AD 2010

Salvete TAC readers!

Here are my Top Picks in the Internet from the world of the Catholic Church and secular culture:

1. On ABC’s “This Week” this past Sunday Arianna Huffington, of the Huffington Post accused Glenn Beck of “inciting the American people” to commit violence against Obama by talking about “people being slaughtered.”

Here is Glenn Beck’s response from last night:

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7 Responses to Res et Explicatio for AD 2-3-2010

  • Safari and Chrome are superior to Firefox in page loading speed and web standards compliance. Firefox uses the least memory but the #1 reason I stick with it is because of the extensions. All this competition is producing rapidly improving browsers.

  • “Here is a neat story of how a kitty cat at a nursing home in Rhode Island curls up to patients just before they are about to die.”

    Oscar, The Cat of Doom!

  • RR,

    I agree. Competition makes everyone better. And if they don’t get better they wither and die!

  • I have found Google Chrome to be the superior browser, at least on my home computer. I don’t do much except browse the internet, and it is super fast. I have two problems with it, though they might be unique to my circumstance. For one, last I checked it still wasn’t syncing with PayPal to enable me to print out shipping labels (I have some ebay business), and for whatever reason whenever I attempt to write out blog posts all but the first paragraph disappears when I attempt to publish.

    I do like Safari as well, and Firefox works great on my work computer but for some reason is slow as heck at home.

  • Thanks for the post about Glenn Beck and for your pro-life stand.

  • Paul,

    Some of the online and evening classes I’m taking requires that I use Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox to access my assignments.

    Ironically they never configured their secure sites for Google Chrome, but Chrome works infinitely better than IE and Firefox!

    Go figure.

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33 Responses to Hollywood Angelology

  • The movie looks demonic.

  • That pretty much eliminates this film for my viewing enjoyment.

    I’ll be watching A Man for All Seasons instead.

    Can I assume that the title of the movie is in reference to the demon Legion in the Holy Gospel of Saint Mark 5:9?

    And he asked him: What is thy name? And he saith to him: My name is Legion, for we are many.

  • Hollywood’s hatred for God is unlimited.

  • I’m going to reserve judgment until I see it. Maybe there’s some crazy plot twists and it turns out to be a good Christian film.

  • RR,

    Paul Bettany also starred as the Opus Dei albino monk assassin.

    Is there a pattern that I am detecting of this English actor?

  • I doubt it. These people absolutely hate God, and they admire Satan for rebelling against him – whether they see that as a reality or a myth, that is who and what they identify with.

  • Some people have pointed out that “the fallen angel” supporting his own messiah sounds like “making the audience root for the anti-Christ.” We have come to this.

  • Here’s a good quote:

    “So, it would appear that just about everything in this movie in relation to the Christian worldview upon which it is supposed to be based has been turned on its head. Now I understand that the producers are trying to spin this as a re-telling of the Old Testament Flood narrative with God giving up on mankind and effectively hitting the reset button, but in no way was God ever depicted as the bad guy in that scenario, so that analogy doesn’t hold up. This treatment of this worldview betrays either an unfamiliarity with the subject matter or an utter disdain for it. At this point one might think it would be time to ask what this says about the folks behind the production of this film, but there is something else that concerns me greater. Similar treatment of the Star Wars or Star Trek universes by a director would stir up a firestorm across the blogosphere the likes of which we have never seen. Yet in this case there is mostly silence. So, what does that say about us?”

  • As an aside, I’ve considered all the light-porn angels we see, such as in Victoria’s Secret ads, are good evidence for existence of the succubus…

  • HK,

    light-porn angels we see, such as in Victoria’s Secret ads, are good evidence for existence of the succubus

    Good catch on that one. I’m sure Victoria Secret won’t like that bit of info.

  • It also says,

    “So, we have a movie where the audience is asked to root for Satan as he tries to protect the Antichrist from being killed by God. Nice.”

    Yes, this is exactly what they want. They’ve been doing it through music for decades, and subtly through film, but now it is out in the open. It is out in the open because they know that now most people either agree with, or are indifferent to, their message – and that even the people who see it for what it is and are appalled by it will do absolutely nothing about it.

    They aren’t just mocking Christianity. They’re spitting in our faces. And there will be millions of fans of this, who have been prepared now for a generation to hate Christianity and above all the Catholic Church.

    I could say a lot more, but I’ll leave it at that.

  • Joe,

    I agree wholeheartedly.

    I could say a lot more, but I’ll leave it at that.

    That would be good for another post don’t you think?


  • “As an aside, I’ve considered all the light-porn angels we see, such as in Victoria’s Secret ads are good evidence for existence of the succubus…”


  • Similar themes have been popular in video games for years, though that’s probably due to historical anti-Christian prejudice in Japanese culture.

  • Why would God try to prevent the second coming of Himself? Seems like a plot point thats either going to end up with a lame explanation or be completely ignored… which is what I’ll be doing to this movie.

  • Tito, the funny thing is, Bettany also played the Catholic doctor Stephen Maturin in Master and Commander with Russell Crowe.

    This story tilts as so very many windmills. The portrayal of God is obviously not a Christian one… what happened to the “for God so loved the world” stuff? What seems at least implied is the standard, superficial-yet-common view of God: angry, vengeful, ready to get medieval on your… you know what. (To be honest, I think many Christians have this view of the Father!) To apply Sheen’s famous remark about the Church more generally… there are many who oppose Christianity, but only a few of them really understand that which they are opposing.

  • “The portrayal of God is obviously not a Christian one…”

    That really depends. I believe the makers of this film fully intend for the audience to accept in their minds that this is the one God, the God of Jews, Christians, Muslims and assorted sects and cults, the God that has been called “Yaweh” and “Jehova.”

    By virtue of what they propose God is doing, no, is not our God. But that isn’t the point. The harm will be done regardless. Movies such as this are both caused by, and contribute to, the moral, spiritual and intellectual degeneracy of our time. I believe this movie has been created to give the open and violent enemies of God, and the open admirers of Satan, something to salivate over. It is a celebration of rebellion against the one true God, who it turns out was a mean guy all along – don’t you see, that Satan guy had the right idea.

    It would be a grave and foolish mistake – and I don’t accuse you or anyone else here of this, mind you – to shrug this off, or get a laugh out of it. At no point in Scripture did God find blasphemy amusing, at no point has the Church found it amusing. It is always something to be taken with the utmost seriousness.

    Finally, I do believe that God is capable of anger, vengeance, and “getting medieval” – but also, as we know, of infinite mercy and love. These are not mutual exclusives. Only to modern man have they become so.

  • Annoys me that 1) it would be *easy* to make this movie OK with at least shallow Christian mythos and 2) they are STILL making everything look like the CGI of The Mummy.


    To both.

  • One could, in theory, say this is a Gnostic film, and that would be why “God” would oppose the second coming, but it really feels more as if it is an Antichrist film

  • Henry, I thought the same thing initially, but there is no “salvation through esoteric knowledge” theme… then I thought it was simply Manichaean or an even more basic dualism… then I concluded that I was giving the screenwriter et al. *far* too much credit and that the story is too superficial to merit too close a philosophical analysis.

    Joe, I appreciate your comments; I’m certainly not laughing the movie off… as I noted in the OP, I was dumbfounded by the premises. And I agree that God is capable of something analogous to anger… my concern is that we are once again seeing an implicit dichotomy between the OT and NT: the God who seeks to wipe out humanity reminds people — naturally — of the God of the flood, but far too many people fail to realize that the God of the OT is a God of mercy & love… we didn’t have to wait until Jesus to find that out! If you read the Psalms, Hosea or even “boring” Deuteronomy God’s love for His people is apparent and obvious. One of my many concerns about this film is that it will reinforce that false stereotype, even for those who see the more obvious errors in the storyline.

  • I think it hilarious that the new Messiah is discovered in a diner in New Mexico. Does anyone have an idea of which diner in which town?

    There is a level of absurdity which is too far out to criticize or to make mock of.

  • IIRC from the trailer, the town’s sign indicates that it’s named “Paradise”.


  • Chris,

    I thought there could be a sense of inspiration from Pullman going on here, which would both allow for Gnosticism, and allow for the scriptwriter to include it without knowing what he/she is doing.

  • “I think it hilarious that the new Messiah is discovered in a diner in New Mexico.”

    Is his first line “Can I finish my waffle?”

  • I think it hilarious that the new Messiah is discovered in a diner in New Mexico.

    So much for returning in glory.

  • well, Hollywood has hit a new low, really low. They must be getting very desparate at trying to shock us. We all need to write a letter-to-the-editor of our local news papers urging christians, jews and muslims not to spend one dime on this movie that encourages us to rebel against God and side with fallen angels who are supposedly sticking up for us. Sure…thats going to happen.

  • Given the many *fake* “Christian protests” that have gone down, we don’t want to do that.

    Perhaps, more effectively, we could tell a better story?

  • i just saw the movie last night, and the angels certainly did look demonic, and with the due consideration that they “possessed” human bodies in order to take out the “new messiah”… well, at least it explains why they can be killed, i guess. the archangel gabriel is sent to actually kill the baby, which bothered me more than almost anything else in the plot line. the movie itself was cheesy and didn’t give any regard to the actual biblical stories, one that it even references. i was still resting under the impression that God has promised that He will never kill his children off again.

    but in the end, He is supposed to have come to his senses because of saint michael and realized that humanity is still good and He still loves them, so i suppose it has a happy ending after all.

  • also, i feel it important to add that the angels who possessed aforementioned bodies came with flies, which was, i was always taught, a sign or demons/satan. this is just a bad movie based shallowly on the end of days, with a few out-of-context biblical references and some “get your life straight” lines sprinkled in.

    overall… i wouldn’t give it much more thought than given to constantine or any number of movies fitting the same motif.

  • Emma,

    Thanks for the update! Interesting ending as you said.

    Chris B.,

    Tito, the funny thing is, Bettany also played the Catholic doctor Stephen Maturin in Master and Commander with Russell Cr

    Stephen played a cynical character that doubted and questioned tradition. His only saving character trait was that he helped secure the capture of the French frigate while disregarding his selfish impulse of continuing his naturalist research.

  • Finally saw it. I don’t think it was really anti-Christian. Despite the premise, religion doesn’t feature prominently. You’d think there’d at least be some religious imagery. Nothing. It must’ve been one of the dumbest movies I’ve ever seen. There’s so many holes in the story you wonder if the writers even thought this through. Watched it with my mother who was laughing. It’s that ridiculous.

  • Better than Hollywood angelology, or even the new novel Angelology, is a true life story of a musician and a life with angels and their teachings for the world today.

    See it at Amazon. Angels on My Stage: The True Story of Eddie Benitez

Advent and John the Baptist

Friday, December 11, AD 2009

In Advent my thoughts frequently turn to John the Baptist, the last, and the greatest, of the prophets who foretold the coming of Christ.  The Jews lived in expectation for many centuries for the coming of the Anointed One, the Christ.  It was left for the Baptist to be His final herald.  His cries for repentance in preparing the way for the Lord are a useful reminder to us as to the proper spirit to celebrate the birth of Christ.

Of the film portrayals of John the Baptist, my favorite is that of Charlton Heston in the movie The Greatest Story Ever Told, who conveys well the sheer force of the Baptist’s message and the courage with which he conveyed it.  John came to testify to the Truth and nothing would stop him from doing it, not even death as the last 2000 years can attest.

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No Islamic Holy Sites Destroyed in 2012 Movie, Fear of Fatwa

Thursday, November 5, AD 2009

Grand Mosque of Mecca

Due to the fear of a death threat in the form of a fatwa from Muslim scholars, movie director Roland Emmerich chose not to shoot any scenes depicting the destruction of Islamic holy sites in his new end-of-the-world film, 2012.  Though Roland Emmerich says this did not stop him when filming scenes depicting the destruction of Christian landmarks such as the Sistine Chapel, Saint Peter’s Basilica, and the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro.  He wanted to make sure his views of opposition to “organized religion” were not soft-pedaled in the movie 2012.

Of course, “organized religion” is a euphemism for the apostolic churches of the Catholic and Orthodox faiths.  Hence why you’ll see the dome of Saint Peter’s Basilica topple over in the 2012 film and not the Ka’aba inside the Grand Mosque of Mecca collapse.

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54 Responses to No Islamic Holy Sites Destroyed in 2012 Movie, Fear of Fatwa

  • They wont show any Jewish holy sites going up in smoke either.

  • I understand your frustration, but things are not exactly how you have presented. Hollywood doesn’t miss an opportunity or is hardly reluctant in its oft ill portrayal of Muslims as terrorists hell bent on destroying the world more than it does to any other organised religion.

    Hollywood as an industry works on what is normal, acceptable and what will sell. It will produce a movie like Bruno which may have offended some groups of poeple but whilst doing so, they ensure they stay just within what is acceptable by general public. Likewise, when it comes to Muslims it assesses what will sell based on what is acceptable. In the Muslim world certain things to do with thier faith are not acceptable, its not just a case of poeple being offended and rioting but potential ban on the movie by the muslim governments.

    We can’t imagine a movie showing destruction of kaba or acting the role of the Prophet being produced let alone shown anywhere in the Muslim world. Can we say the same about the Christian world? Britian and America as Christian countries have never been reluctant to or fear any backlash in what maybe called abuse of sacred religious aspects in the name of art, film, drama? The people have become desensatised and just don’t care anymore even if it is Jesus being shown as a fornicator. Surely you can’t blame the Muslims for this?

  • What caught my eye about Mr. Emmerich is that he openly admitted that he was afraid for his life and it wasn’t worth it to depict an Islamic holy site being destroyed.

    But still wimpy.

  • Salman,

    I’d have to disagree with you there.

    Christians don’t go out and destroy property and issue death threats AND carry them out.

    And no Christian government, if there existed one in the 20th or 21st century has banned a film that offended Christians.

  • Salman,

    On your point of Hollywood portraying Islam in a negative light, it has not been explicitly done. But they have done so implicitly such in the movie True Lies and in the tv miniseries 24.

    Though they were depictions of individual Muslims in general and not Islamic holy sites or Muhammad in particular.

  • Hollywood doesn’t miss an opportunity or is hardly reluctant in its oft ill portrayal of Muslims as terrorists hell bent on destroying the world more than it does to any other organised religion.

    As John McEnroe would say, you cannot be serious. No better example of the ridiculous pc atmosphere is the move version of Sum of All Fears, where the evil villains went from Muslims in the book to white skinheads in the film. The bad guys on 24 are almost always some shadowy, white-led corporation. Whenever there are Islamic bad guys, it’s usually revealed that some pucker-faced white dude is the guy pulling the strings.

  • The very real silver lining: it’s a backhanded but genuine compliment to the overwhelmingly civilized behavior of Catholics.

  • Interesting article. As for Emmerich, it took guts to say that, assuming he meant it as an accusation. If he meant it as a warning to fellow Westerners not to rock the boat, it’s pathetic.

  • I look at this as – we must be doing something right! I can care less that hollywood has a bias – it has and always will. The movies that do talk truth will be the ones I go to see. I saw th previews to this and thought 2012 and thought here we go again. I am sure the twist at the end will be that we as humans didn’t enough to stop global warming and that we should have slowed our population down enough to reduce our carbon signature. If only we ate less meat this wouldn’t have happened. Sheesh…

  • I think you are reading too much into the supposed ‘anti-Christian’ content of this movie. While scared sites do meet destruction, the movie is, after all, about the End of the World. We would expect sites like these to be destroyed, as part of the movie’s theme, and also for general ‘shock value’.

    I do agree that his declaration about Muslim holy sites is cowardly, but he, at least, admits it.

  • NauticaMongoose,

    Its under the surface.

    Their bias comes out that they can do this to Christian holy sites with impunity unlike Muslim holy sites.

  • The fact that taco stands being destroyed was not actually depicted in the movie is sheer proof that the movie maker harbors great respect, if not, great fear of Tito Taco Man, who might have issued a fatwa against him!

    Fear the Taco Man; fear Tito!

  • e.,

    I used to own and operate a taco stand.

    You know my feelings very well!

  • I really don’t understand how the dome of St. Peter’s is able to fall to its side and roll all the way out into the square to crush the masses of people gathered there… I mean, it’s a *long* way from the dome to the front of the church!

  • Maybe there’s some kind of time/space distortion in Hollywood that fundamentally alters the laws of physics there?

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  • “Calling director Emmerich a “coward,” a blogger for The American Catholic writes, “This is just another example of Hollywood picking on us Christians. ‘Us’ Christians call this behavior bigotry in the form of Christophobia. More commonly known as anti-Christian or more specifically anti-Catholicism in the case of this film.” The blogger goes on to note that Emmerich was concerned about having a fatwa (essentially a Muslim death threat) on his head.”


    Tito Taco just expanded his taco stand.


  • @ Tito :

    We, Muslim also accept that Jesus( Peace Be Upon Him ) was a Prophet of God and I would like to inform you that Islam equally forbids depiction of Jesus or David or Moses or any other Prophet in any form. I would also like to inform you that movies that are offending to Christians like The Da Vinci Code were not allowed to be screened in Pakistan and Iran which are Muslim States ….
    About the fact that no Christian state has banned such a movie is not our problem …. its up to the Christians to raise their voice and ask their Governments to Ban such films. If your leaders are don’t care about it, what can ‘we’ the Muslims do ??
    Just look around and see what resources the Christians have … you are a hundred times ahead then Muslims in many aspects consider Education, Electronic Media, Technology, Research and Development, etc etc …. yet with all those advantages if you cant make your point clear … its a pity ….

  • Osama,

    I understand what you are saying. Christians appreciate the fact that Pakistan and Iran banned the film as well as other Maghreb and south Asian.

    We do protest in a civilized manner via all of our resources.

    We live in a civilized society that allows for dissent in a peaceful manner. At most we will organize marches and demonstrations but we will not resort to violence.

    After those steps are procured and Hollywood still insists, and does so, in distributing such blasphemous films then we have done what we could and it is in the hands our Father after that.

    So we execute our final step of prayer, prayer, and more prayer.

    This is the mystery of iniquity that will be revealed to us in the last days. But until that happens we completely place our trust in Him with abiding joy and love.

    Thank you for engaging in this dialogue and hope you return again in the future when our paths cross again.

    After all we are sons of Abraham via Noah descended from Adam and are brothers in God.


  • I do agree with most of the comments above.

    Hollywood is just a business. They will produce movies they think people want to see, hoping to make a profit.

    If we do not agree with what is shown ( and – or not shown) in a particular movie, we can decide not to support it. Money walks. No money, no movies.

    In the light of Emmerich’s decision to show the destruction of Holy Christian symbols in 2012, I have decided to not see this movie. I will also tell my family & friends about it so that they can decide for themselves if they will support that movie or not.

  • Hi Osama and Salman, your comments are welcomed, we need more such voices and louder to make a fruitfull and meaningfull dialaogues. After all, as Tito says, we are brothers in God.

  • As it appears some of our commenters are not accustomed to the American system I think it needs to be pointed out that although the U.S. has a majority Christian population and was founded on principles that stemmed from Christian thought, it is a secular, not a Christian state. There is no “official” faith singled out for special protection. While this may result in some extremely distasteful things being said, published, filmed, and televised, it’s necessary to recognize that the same freedom that allows Hollywood filmmakers to wallow in anti-Christian images allows Christians and everybody else to freely discuss and advocate for their beliefs. We are wary of bans even when the lack thereof allows offensive speech and images; when you start banning the communication of certain ideas it tends to become that much easier to ban all the others, your own included.

    But this isn’t about official bans or what Christians should do to get more respect from the film industry; it’s about a climate of fear that silences any discussion of Islam, reasoned or otherwise, that subjects it to the same scrutiny as any other belief system. It’s a fear that the laws that are supposed to preserve our freedom of speech are insufficient to protect us against the lawless.

    That is what is most troubling–that a filmmaker so accustomed to saying what he likes that he thinks nothing of showing images that disturb or offend the majority of his audience can be so completely cowed by a violent minority that he will not speak up even when he might have something important to say.

    Theo Van Gogh spoke up, and paid for it with his life. It appears few of his colleagues are willing to exercise that freedom if it puts their necks on the line. Give Emmerich credit for at least acknowledging that.

  • Interesting. He hates “organized religion” but for some reason makes sure that those who practice Islam survive the end of the world in his movie “2012”

    His irrational hatred of Christianity and Catholicism in particular, winds up with him making the largest pro-Islamic propaganda film in the history of mankind – despite him hating “organized religion” – the message of the movie is clear: If you wish to survive the end of the world, you got to join Islam.

    Very nice. Way to go.

    Irrational bigotry always leads to irrational consequences.

  • Osama —

    Jesus was/is not a PROPHET, he is God incarnate. I am sorry but your religion is a counterfeit that has some of the characteristics of the true faith — just twisted ever so slightly into something that is profoundly untrue. Please accept Christ for who he is and save yourself while you may still have time.

  • I saw this movie today, at hubby’s insistence. Don’t waste your time or money on it. Yeah, the special effects are great but the plot and acting are pretty lame, and laughably so at times, plus the movie goes on WAY too long.

    If this is “the largest pro-Islamic propaganda film in the history of mankind,” I hardly noticed, probably because I was too busy snickering at all the over-the-top escapes and disaster flick cliches 🙂

  • Also, it seems to me that the religion(s) to join if you want to survive the end of the world in this movie would be either Buddhism or (SPOILER ALERT) any religion practiced in Africa, which actually does have a lot of Catholics as well as Muslims and adherents of native faiths.

  • Ronald did it again. This movie, 2012, looks awesome. I don’t think I can wait until it comes out. The trailor is mind blowing. Finally a film to spark the imagination.

  • This is so pathetic. It seems to me you’re more upset that Islamic holy sites were not destroyed in the movie. The simple fact of the matter is that Hollywood is run by Jews. That’s not an uncharitable statement. I wonder why you chose not to insist that the Wailing Wall was not destroyed as well? The demonization and degradation of Christianity and Islam by Jewish fanatics is nothing new. Yet where are the Christians when it comes to making their voices heard?
    Tito also makes some atrocious fallacies in his condescending statements. Civilized? My friend, westerners have and still are amongst the most violent and genocidal people in human history. Babbling about fatwas while going around the world invading countries and slaughtering millions based on a pack of lies? Hypocrisy and bad comedy at its best.
    Pick up a history book sometime.

  • Unimpressed,

    Straw man arguments all around.

    So much straw I could start a bon fire.

    As far as your statements are concerned:

    1. I am pointing out that Hollywood remains largely anti-Christian, more specifically, anti-Catholic.

    In the context of the film and the statements made by the director it is clearly evident that his hatred for Catholicism.

    2. Genocides? You’re referring to “Westerners”, I am defending the Catholic faith.

    There is a stark difference. Remember the first genocide was done by the Turkish Muslims when they eliminated 1.5 million Armenian Christians in the late 19th and early 20th century.

    Are they “Western”?

  • “Babbling about fatwas while going around the world invading countries and slaughtering millions”

    Actually that is not a bad summary of the history of Islamic imperialism. Of course it ignores the positive aspects of Islamic culture as you ignore the positive aspects of the history of Jews and Christians.

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  • Hmmm … you mean the Ku Klux Klan does not terrorize in the name of Christ? Obviously Muslims are very serious about their faith. Perhaps Christians should be as devoted to theirs?

  • Bernice,

    Know your history or don’t say anything at all.

    The KKK equally hated Catholics as much as blacks.

    Catholic churches were bombed and Catholics were terrorized in general.

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  • you say “What? You thought it was a recent phenomenon? Muslims have been waging war against non-Muslims since Mohammad started their religion, but that’s for another day).” so you totally ignore that All non-muslims started wars against Muslims ,also at current time ,whose countries are invaded and destroyed ? Iraq,Afghanistan ,Egypt was occuppied by british christians ,Somalia by France ,Algeria was occupied for 300 year ,about 3 Million Muslims were killed there in genocide by Frensh Christians ,Italy is no Different it Invaded Lybia ,need more ?

  • Ahmed,

    The Middle East was Christian for 600 years before Muhammad arrived.

    Get your facts straight before spouting off nonsense.

  • Hi, Tito,

    To put the record straight, the part of Arabia where Muhammed(pbuh) was born, had just a sprinkling of Christians but a had a number of tribes who were Jews.
    And regarding persecution, The number of practising Coptic Christians in Middle East shows that they were allowed the freedom of choosing and practising their religion.

  • Ragsayed,

    The number of practicing Copts used to be over 90% of the population.

    Years of persecution have whittled their numbers down to 10%.

  • Hi Tito,

    U have got it wrong the practising copts were abt 15% only , the other were worshippers of different Gods like Laat, Uzza, Mannat etc. Wouldn’t it be fair to say that , each major religion had some or the other leader who perpetuated atrocities in name of religion. If u talk abt Turkey then u also have to remember that after 600 yrs of rule when the christians conquered Spain all the muslims were slain there too.

    I am not justifying any of the genocides but just want to make clear that any kind of killings in name of religion is done by the proponents not saanctioned by that religion. The same yardstick should be applied to all.

  • Some times I think Catholics, Christians, and my fellow Americans are jealous, in a silly sort a way. For the most part we have nothing serious to complain about, so they have to convince themselves they are under attack by Hollywood, of all things.

    I have to ask what was so civilized about US policy that has resulted in the deaths of Muslims, deaths that many Christians seem to feel not worth counting post WWII. By supporting the creation of the modern State of Israel in the manner it was. Propping up an Iranian monarch. Arming both Iran in Iraq in propagated by the US. Bad as it is radical Muslims kill because of they interpret their holy book, what drove US policy? Worshiping the God almighty dollar?

  • Ragsayed,

    The Muslims in Spain were expelled. Besides, it was Christian before it was Muslim.

    As for Egypt, the See of Alexandria is one of the oldest sees in the world. It was overwhelmingly Copt before the Muslims came in.


    Relativism is your god, not ours.

  • Hi Tito,
    The muslims in Spain were not expelled, they were put to death to the last muslim by The Crusaders in the period of 21 days.

    Regarding Spain being Christian b4 Muslims conquered it, yes it is a fact. But it is also true in the 600 yrs of Muslim rule there was never a mass execution or expulsion of the christians.

    Always get ur facts right b4 commenting.

  • Rizwan,

    The Crusaders were never in Spain.

    The Muslims persecuted both Christians and Jews.

  • The only religions which you can ridicule without fear of any reaction seems to be Christianity and eastern religions.

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  • Osama and salmon,

    Thank you for your dignified responses. I am a Christian, not a Muslim, but you are showing more grace and dignity than most of the “Christians” on this site. Please don’t listen to ignorant comments that plead for you to mend your views on Islam religion. We have all found God, and He is the same. Allah, Jesus, He is the same. We should honor our similarities and celebrate our differences. No human has the right to tell another how to think, act, or feel. Jesus knows this. Some of you should learn to follow His lead.

  • I’m not sure why Emmerich had to destroy any religious landmarks or symbols in the film. I sensed a degree of derision when the senior American official on the ark made a comment about the Italian prime minister coping with the imminent disaster with ‘prayer’, then showing thousands of people getting crushed under the rubble of St Peter’s. I would have liked to have seen some casinos, adult film studios and credit card bank corporate headquarters crumble instead. It felt like the film was presenting a message that prayer is meaningless. I respect people who don’t believe in a higher power but I certainly believe that it helped my infant son many years ago when he was fighting for his life and continues to help me today. Anyway, I hope Emmerich will steer away from this type of controversy in future film projects.

  • ” Osama Says:
    Thursday, November 12, 2009 A.D. at 1:19 am
    @ Tito :

    We, Muslim also accept that Jesus( Peace Be Upon Him ) was a Prophet of God and I would like to inform you that Islam equally forbids depiction of Jesus or David or Moses or any other Prophet in any form. I would also like to inform you that movies that are offending to Christians like The Da Vinci Code were not allowed to be screened in Pakistan and Iran which are Muslim States ….
    About the fact that no Christian state has banned such a movie is not our problem …. its up to the Christians to raise their voice and ask their Governments to Ban such films. If your leaders are don’t care about it, what can ‘we’ the Muslims do ??
    Just look around and see what resources the Christians have … you are a hundred times ahead then Muslims in many aspects consider Education, Electronic Media, Technology, Research and Development, etc etc …. yet with all those advantages if you cant make your point clear … its a pity …. ”

    Salaam Alekum Osama. In Islam Issa ( Jesus ) PBUH is a Prophet of Allah the merciful and the compassionate that is quite true, but very many Muslims when in communication with Western audiences seem to go out of their way to omit the very important fact that in Islam, Issa is not God’s son and to claim that he is God’s son would be a major heresy in Islam, in that the Noble Koran in Islam is regarded as the exact word of God and is the final authority in Islamic law and theology. And a claim that Issa is God’s son would run slam bang in to Surah 112

    Translations of the Qur’an, Surah 112:

    Total Verses: 4
    Revealed At: MAKKA
    YUSUFALI: Say: He is Allah, the One and Only;
    PICKTHAL: Say: He is Allah, the One!
    SHAKIR: Say: He, Allah, is One.
    YUSUFALI: Allah, the Eternal, Absolute;
    PICKTHAL: Allah, the eternally Besought of all!
    SHAKIR: Allah is He on Whom all depend.
    YUSUFALI: He begetteth not, nor is He begotten;
    PICKTHAL: He begetteth not nor was begotten.
    SHAKIR: He begets not, nor is He begotten.
    YUSUFALI: And there is none like unto Him.
    PICKTHAL: And there is none comparable unto Him.
    SHAKIR: And none is like Him.

    Why do Muslims act in this manner in relation to describing the position of the Prophet Issa in Islam and my view is that in many cases they assume often correctly that many Westerners will have little detailed knowledge of Christianity and know next to nothing about Islam and such Muslims conclude that they can trick Westerners in to believing that Jesus ( Issa ) holds the exact same position in Islam as he does in Christianity. Also, I would suggest to you that Pakistan and Iran are not Muslim states, they are merely countries where the majority of the population are of the Muslim religion, which is a very different thing, since a conceptual idea of Islam is to be aware of the imperfection of mankind and to show the mercy of God to the sinner and not to cast him or her adrift from the Islamic community, so for sure good and bad the majority of the population of Pakistan and Iran are Muslims. To say Pakistan and Iran are Muslim States is something seriously different. For example, the Prophet Mohammad peace be upon him, sent certain of his companions abroad to seek sanctuary and support from a Christian King in Africa thus establishing a principle that if people are legitimate and honorable they may seek the protection of just leaders. If the Prophet Mohammad should seek protection for his companions from a King who was foreign King in a foreign land, how much more so, for example should the Baha’i in Iran have a right to have the Government of Iran protect them in their own country. If a government will not protect its own people and even encourages their persecution, how could it claim to be Islamic ? As for banning films, such as the Da Vinci Code, where is the authority derived from the Koran to do this and furthermore if you wish to ban depictions of Prophets such as for example the Prophet Mohammad, why allow any films or photographs of real people or actors playing roles, since my understanding is if one wants to follow an interpretation of Islam that would ban a depiction of the Prophet Mohammad, it would also require that pictures of human-beings be banned.

  • the world wil never end that way because god said he would never flood the earth he said when the world end we will see him ..wwe cant listen to men or people that said this cause people are born everyday in we will never no when time is here,

  • Hi,
    I’ll present you with a simple math. If emmerich did put in his film collapses of islamic holy places, he will loose much. 90 % of the 1 billion muslims will not watch his film, coz they are devoted fanatic muslims who will not be happy with it..On the contrary, by putting in collapses of vatican churches, his loosing risk was only made by small percentage of devoted fanatic catholics all over the world { less than 5 % }, the rest are much more tolerant. As for the question why he didnt put in the destruction of jewish holy places, most of the hollywood producers are jewish, arent them? Its only business as usual pal………..

  • Hermione,

    That is simply rubbish.

    Equating Catholic “fanatics” on the level of Muslims is part of the anti-Catholic smear campaign.

  • Tito,
    you miss the point. the point is, its business, just a business as other fictious films. by mentioning catholics majority are much more tolerant, does it mean its an ‘anti’ campaign? Or maybe the sentence could be altered this way : on the contrary, by putting in collapses of vatican churches, he will not loose much, coz catholics majority are of much more tolerant.

Cinema Classics: The Thin Man Movies

Sunday, September 27, AD 2009

Giving strength to the phase “they’re not making them like that any more” is the classic series of film noir take-offs the Thin Man movies, starring William Powell and Myrna Loy.

The first movie, The Thin Man (1934), was based on a novel by one of the godfathers of noir, Dashiell Hammett, who also worked on the screenplays for the first two movies. However the chemistry of Powell and Loy make the movie of The Thin Man a good deal more fun than the book: classy, witty and all-around a good time.

The movie was such a success it was followed in 1936 by Another Thin Man, and eventually a total of six Thin Man movies were made, ending with the 1947 Song of the Thin Man. To my mind, the three 30s movies are the best, with the feel of the movies changing slightly in the later movies.

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3 Responses to Cinema Classics: The Thin Man Movies

  • Yes, excellent movies, though when my wife introduced me to them I wondered if William Powell might have been the Bill W of AA.

  • Count me as another Thin Man fan. I’m just sad there are only six of them.

  • I am again one of the many that loves the Thin Man series. I was the same format would be made to make a new set of films for example the son of the tin man or grandson of the thin man takes over for Nick The one thing I hope would be not shown is someone throwing up on screen. I have never thought that was emtertainment.

The 13th Day

Wednesday, August 19, AD 2009

[Updates at the bottom of this post as of 10:33 pm CST for 8-20-2009 AD]

The 13th Day is a film based on the true story of the Marian apparitions to three shepherd children at Fatima Portugal on the 13th day of six consecutive months in 1917, starting on 13 May.  The three children were Lucia Santos and her cousins, siblings Jacinta and Francisco Marto.  These apparitions at Fatima were officially declared worthy of belief by the Catholic Church.

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"50 Best Catholic films of all time"

Monday, August 17, AD 2009

William Park ( lists, in his judgement, “the fifty best Catholic movies of all time”.

Some readers, myself included, were very surprised by the absence of The Mission. A magnificent cast (including Robert DeNiro, Jeremy Irons and Liam Neeson); a play by Robert Bolt (A Man for All Seasons) — it has, in my estimation, one of the most powerful illustrations of penance and forgiveness in cinema.

The Mission deservedly won seven Academy Awards, and made the top 15 films under ‘Religion’ selected by the Vatican, commemorating 100 years of cinema.

So why didn’t it make the list? — the author doesn’t offer much of an explanation, save that “Bolt’s screenplay for The Mission looks at the Church from the point of view of Dostoevsky’s “Grand Inquisitor.” Steven D. Greydanus, however, explores the complexities and ambiguities of The Mission for

Question for our readers: do you agree with the list? — Do you agree with Warren’s list? Any notable omissions? What would you have selected?

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34 Responses to "50 Best Catholic films of all time"

  • Many of the films on the list, while excellent, don’t really seem to fit into the “Catholic film” category.

    In terms of films that aren’t on the list that do have more of a Catholic focus, I would add Catholics (duh!), The Third Miracle, and Return to Me.

  • To be honest, it seems like a really weird list to me. A lot of the movies on there are at best made by Catholics or deal with themes that Catholics may find compelling, but it seems like a strange list when it comes to “Catholic films”. Even some of the ones on there I really like (Blue, for example) I’d be hesitant to put down as being “Catholic films”.

    If I were to go adding films, I would consider in addition to The Mission:

    The Godfather (the original movie being pretty clearly laid out as a story of damnation set against a Catholic background)

    The Addiction & The Funeral (these two indie flicks have their problems, including convoluted plot and massive amounts of “content”, but both have very interesting explicitly Catholic themes layered in as well.)

    And while it’s not a movie, how about the magnificently done BBC adaptation of Brideshead Revisited from 1980?

  • I suppose a lot of it depends upon what they mean by “Catholic” film. I think the definition was predicated upon a film dealing with Catholic themes (salvation, sin, redemption, divine love, etc.) in a Catholic way – bringing out the Catholic view of these things. Movies that would support Catholic doctrine, although not necessarily mentioning it expressly. Surprised no LOTR mentioned. Regardless of the director’s/writers’/actors’ own subjective understanding of what they wanted the film to get across, by maintaining at least a significant adherence to Tolkien’s work, many of the Catholic themes are present.

    Another film many might find odd for this category, although I think it does an amazing job of exploring themes of sin, penance, salvation, purgatory and redemption (with some objectionable scenes) is High Plains Drifter.

    Can’t comment on The Mission since I have not seen it (will have to do that sometime).

  • Notable omissions:
    The Passion of the Christ
    The Robe
    King of Kings (very Catholic portrayal of Mary)
    The Mission
    Black Robe
    Jesus of Nazareth

  • I read the comment by Steven D. Greydanus in the link you post.

    He seems to know a lot about movies but I don’t think he’s been following up Church politics. Liberation Theology is alive and well in Latin America and elsewhere. Unfortunately.

  • I’d also add Hitchcock’s I Confess.

  • The BBC production of Brideshead has to be in the top 10, if not the top 5.

    And the Passion of the Christ, after I paid attention to this, was teeming with “Catholic imagination.” Gibson’s problems aside, the film really comes across as a deeply spiritual enterprise.

  • I happen to second DarwinCatholic’s sentiments; to me, the list strikes me as more secular than it is “Catholic”, with perhaps a very few exceptions.

  • Just to avoid any potential confusion the ‘John Henry’ above is not me. While I agree that the linked review is well done, I am not informed enough to comment on the state of liberation theology in South America.

  • One reason why many films did not get put on the list is that it was an old list, made over 15 years ago. Also, Park defined what he meant by Catholic, and that also should be kept in mind –“The best religious films, and therefore the best Catholic films, convey the great truths of Christianity implicitly rather than explicitly, not unlike the mystery of incarnation itself, in which the Word became flesh in the person of an obscure carpenter from a hick town in a minor province. In addition, this list consists primarily of films that deal with Catholic characters, Catholic society, and the Bible in ways that are not hostile to the Church.”

    Now, would I have a different list? Certainly. I agree with The Mission as being one. I also agree with the Lord of the Rings (I will put it as one, because it is one long epic). But I would also add movies like “Grave of the Fireflies” (based upon his explanation) and “The Matrix,” despite its flaws.

  • …I am not informed enough to comment…

    You don’t have to be informed to make comments on the Internet. In fact, it seems informed comments are usually disregarded in favor of those that are fallacious, condescending, insulting, or emotionally provocative. Nevertheless, I find your approach more appealing.

  • “In fact, it seems informed comments are usually disregarded…”

    If by “informed” you mean those of the Pro-aborts who claim that their opinions are remarkably corroborated by a whole corpus of substantial data and other such compelling evidence for their particular views; then, clearly, it is better to yield to the inferior & even ignorant.

  • Henry K.,

    Something you and I agree on!

    Matrix and Lord of the Rings I thought had direct and indirect references to Christianity.

  • Actually, Matrix had more to do with Putnam’s “Brain in a Vat” than it did either directly or indirectly with Christianity; of course, what do I know?

    I’m not a well-informed Pro-abort.

  • Ummm, e., are you for some reason under the impression that I am a pro-abort or running interference for their abominable positions like some Catholics do? If so, you’re terribly mistaken.

  • The best religious films, and therefore the best Catholic films, convey the great truths of Christianity implicitly rather than explicitly, not unlike the mystery of incarnation itself, in which the Word became flesh in the person of an obscure carpenter from a hick town in a minor province.

    I’m highly sympathetic to that kind of approach to what’s a Catholic film or novel, but at the same time, it strikes me as a fairly fuzzy and personal definition. Being Catholic, I think that Catholicism describes how the world is. Generally, good art is true as well, describing the world in the way it is through a fictional medium. (Some exceptions here, I suppose. I think Apocalypse Now is an incredibly good film, despite bearing little resemblance at all to the real world.) But does that mean every movie I think provides a deep reflection of reality is therefore Catholic?

    At a certain level, perhaps, since there is just one reality. But going by that kind of definition makes it very hard to come together on a film list — especially since often one person will see a film as strongly evoking some truth despite other contradictory elements, while another person will only see the problems.

  • e., implying that Rick Lugari is a pro-abort would be as odd as someone implying that I am an Obama supporter. They don’t come more pro-life than Rick.

    As to the list of films it strikes me as more catholic than Catholic. Half the films on there have not even a tenuous connection with the Faith. Further suggestions for additions to a list of Catholic Films: The Scarlet and the Black, the Agony and the Ecstacy, the Prisoner with Alec Guinness in a Cardinal Mindszenty like role, and I Confess.

  • The passion of the Christ?

    God Bless,

  • How could I forget:

    Joyeux Noel

  • I’m perplexed as to how he came to that conclusion about The Mission, too. The film is far too complex for that reading, even for an amateur like me.

    Agreed as to “Return To Me”–very underrated, old school romantic comedy and a love note to Catholic Chicago. I’m happy to say I saw it in the theatre, too.

    My adds: Barabbas, and the surprising omission: Jesus of Nazareth. I know the latter isn’t a complete success, but the best parts are brilliant and at worst it’s slow and dry.

  • One of my personal favorite “Catholic” movies, in the sense that it portrays Catholic faith and devotion as a normal part of everyday life rather than as a surefire indicator of fanaticism or mental illness, is “The Rookie” with Dennis Quaid. The main character is encouraged to pray to St. Rita — who like St. Jude is regarded as a patron saint of hopeless causes — for the success of his impossible dream of pitching in the major leagues at his “advanced” age (late 30s).

    I also can’t believe that “The Mission” was left off the list; it was a really magnificient movie.

    One of the commenters on the original list disses “Song of Bernadette” — and I happen to agree with him about Jennifer Jones’ voice — but there is a part of the plot that made a lifelong impression on me. (I used to watch this at least once a year on WGN’s “Family Classics” Sunday afternoon movie show.)

    When Bernadette enters the convent, she encounters an extremely strict Mother Superior who boasts of all the penances she performs and openly wonders why the Virgin Mary didn’t choose to appear to her instead. She also insists that Bernadette receive no “special” treatment, and when Bernadette shows signs of illness, suspects her of pretending to be sick to get attention. However, when the doctor informs her that Bernadette is dying and that the pain of her illness — which Bernadette had never once complained about — is too horrible to describe, the Mother Superior is overwhelmed with contrition, rushes to the chapel and begs God’s forgiveness.

    To me, that storyline sums up the difference between practicing self-imposed penance in a prideful or Pharasaical sort of way (NOT to imply that all self-imposed penance is done this way, just that it CAN be) and embracing involuntary penance in a spirit of humility and submission to God’s will.

    Of course, BOTH forms of penance and devotion should be a part of our lives and complement one another. But what I took away from that movie is that being patient with others and one’s own limitations is of greater value in the eyes of God than, say, how often you fast or how late you stay up every night praying.

  • Dale Price:

    Thank-you, dear Sir!

    Any list which would include such films in the category of “Barrabas” and “Jesus of Nazerth” would indeed be within the realm of “Catholic”.

    I would add to that same list, if it were even more comprehensive and not limited to simply movies, such series like “A.D.”, which was amazingly Catholic (at least, in its more complete version which featured St. Paul unambiguously preaching about the Eucharist and not some symbolic Protestant manifestation thereof).

  • Although the production qualities of “AD” were not the greatest (not bad, but not what could be done with a bigger budget), I was pleasantly surprised by the very Catholic approach taken in many of the scenes. In particular, the strong leadership role portrayed in St. Peter.

  • c matt:

    I’d have to agree with you concerning A.D.’s seemingly subpar production qualities; but, more importantly — yes! — the Peter as magnificently portrayed in the series simply seemed to scream, for me, “Catholic”.

    What’s more interesting is the fact that A.D. came from the very same who brought us “Jesus of Nazareth”.

    They don’t make mini-series like these anymore, unfortunately. Gone are the days when they made the likes of “A.D.” and “Peter & Paul”; now, it’s purely more of the Dirty Housewives & American Idol variety.

  • If CASABLANCA (1942) made the list I think SHANE shoud be on there too. After all, Shane really straightened out the evil in the end!!!

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  • Shane, now there was a magnificent film! My father’s favorite Western. Alan Ladd and Jack Palance made wonderful archetypes for Western good and evil.

  • Boy, it’s been a while…

    It seems like when my Dad sat me down to educate me in the The Western, the first one he showed me was Shane, followed by The Searchers. To be honest, I don’t remember either one all that well at this point. I should re-watch it.

    Currently I’d put my favorite western as The Big Country, though that’s a non-standard one in many ways.

  • The Searchers, my favorite western. There was a good DVD released in 2006 with lots of commentaries and extras.

    John Wayne’s finest performance and the culmination of his great creative partnership with director John Ford. One for the ages.

  • While I admit Shane was a great movie (at least, when I first saw it as a kid), if you will actually admit it into such a catalog, might as well allow entrance of such films as A Fistful of Dollars or even The Good, The Bad & The Ugly; if anything could ever merely touch on elements purportedly “Catholic”, it is these.

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