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.
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.
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.
[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.
William Park (InsideCatholic.com) 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 DecentFilms.com.
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?
I saw the movie with Liam Neeson entitled “Taken”, the other night. It is the ultimate ‘Dads protecting daughters’ fantasy. It plays on a whole lot of primal emotions- particularly the temptation to give oneself over to extreme violence to protect the lives and sanctity of one’s children. Every father wants to imagine himself capable of defending his beloved children from any and all threats- and the father in “Taken” was that ultimate fatherly force. He represented more of a divine Angelic father who slays spiritually evil forces, than a realistic earthly dad- and as such I was able to excuse the incredible violence as something of a parable of ultimate accountability for those humans who perpetrate the evils of human trafficking and slavery.
A number of feature films and miniseries have been made about the events of the American Revolution. Here are my top ten choices for Fourth of July viewing:
10. The Devil’s Disciple (1959)- I am not a big fan of the plays of George Bernard Shaw, but this film has its moments. Set during the Saratoga campaign of 1777, Laurence Olivier was an inspired choice as General “Gentleman Johnnie” Burgoyne, and Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas as the two American protagonists have their usual fine chemistry together on film. Not a classic but certainly an overlooked gem.
Aristotle taught that the purpose of tragedy is to inspire pity and fear in the audience, thence causing catharsis, a purging of emotion. I’ve always found his explanation of tragedy compelling, but as I get older (queue laughter at the thirty-year-old getting “older”) I find that I want to achieve catharsis much less than I used to. Not that my life is layered in tragedy or anything, indeed, far from it. But somehow, one just doesn’t feel as much like seeking out pity and fear at thirty as at twenty.
This has been running through my head as I’ve been reading about The Stoning of Soraya M.