Movie Report: Paul, Apostle of Christ

Went to see the above-named movie with several Paul_387x580banner_nowintheaters-387x580friends from church Saturday evening.  It’s well worth your time and the price of admission.  A caution: much like the movie Passion of the Christ, this is not escapist entertainment.  It makes you think.  As with that other movie, I noticed there was very little conversation as people left the theater.

Several things impressed me about this production.  First, much of what Paul says is drawn from the various letters he wrote in the New Testament — either verbatim or by paraphrase.  You get the sense his dialogue is intended to be close to the spirit and heart of the man being depicted.  Second, while the movie is nowhere near as graphic as the Passion of the Christ, it does not shy away from highlighting the very real persecution and martyring of the Church in the time of Nero.  (The PG-13 rating is a good guide for age appropriateness.)  But it does so in a way that provides a reminder of the encouragement we have in Christ even when facing death at the hands of others.  A closely related third, the Christians of Rome are not cardboard saints.  They wrestle with how to respond to such wanton evil being inflicted on them.  Without giving spoilers, I’ll say it was refreshing to see that not everyone made perfect “Sunday School” choices.

Which brings me to a final point.  A pitfall of many “Christian” movies is a desire to tie everything up neatly: the antagonist repents, there is miraculous deliverance, and so forth.  This movie manages to avoid that.  I won’t get more specific so as not to ruin it for others, but suffice to say while the film concludes in a very appropriate manner for the story it is telling, it leaves open the question of how some characters’ futures resolve.

The best compliment I can give the movie is to note that before we went separate ways Saturday evening, our group agreed it could drive some discussion in our Bible study Sunday morning.  (I should note we’ve been in Paul’s letters for a while now, so the movie’s release was very timely).  Much like the Visual Bible films of a few years ago, this movie provides a way to look at familiar scripture through a different lens than the written word alone.  I find myself hoping more such thought-provoking films will be made — movies that demonstrate a respect for scripture even while carefully filling in historical blanks.

This one is worth your support.

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Idiots everywhere

I’m looking forward to seeing the movie “Dunkirk.”  Fewer and fewer Americans are aware of just how close Hitler came to dealing a fatal blow to the Allied cause well before America formally entered the war.

But when some people wonder why the corporate media have no credibility, they need look no further than USA Today’s review of the movie:

The movie captures the real-life heroism of the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940, when nearly 400,000 Allied soldiers were pulled out after the Germans trapped them on a beach in Nazi-occupied France. Nolan’s ambitious story revolves around three tales unfolding at different times over land, sea and air, only coming together at the end…

Dunkirk is also one of the best-scored films in recent memory, and Hans Zimmer’s music plays as important a role as any character. With shades of Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations, the melodies are glorious, yet Zimmer also creates an instrumental ticking-clock soundtrack that’s a propulsive force in the action scenes.

So far, so good.  But then:

The trio of timelines can be jarring as you figure out how they all fit, and the fact that there are only a couple of women and no lead actors of color may rub some the wrong way.

(Cue scratching needle record here.)

The ONLY people who could be rubbed the wrong way by the casting of this film are those who are so historically and factually ignorant they should not be allowed within 100 miles of a voting booth or anywhere else that requires an informed decision.  For the record:

  • Nazi Germany was a nation of whites led by rabid Aryan supremacists
  • The United Kingdom in 1940 had not yet been overrun by the backwash from its imperial expansion, and so was just as white.  Admittedly, there were a handful of Indian troops among the British Expeditionary Force, but they hardly played a “lead” role.
  • The evacuation of Dunkirk occurred in France.  And while that country has long been in the vanguard of multiculturalism, only the Foreign Legion in 1940 would have had many “people of color” — and they weren’t at Dunkirk.

I suspect the reviewer was aware of most, if not all of the above. The fact he felt it necessary to insert that tripe into what was otherwise a very informative review just shows where we are as a society today.

Who knows… maybe in 25 years the role of Winston Churchill will be played by a transgendered black actress. Because diversity.