SansBlogue  
Monday, February 28, 2005
 
Hell wants him. Heaven won't take him. Earth needs him. ::

She: “I don’t believe in Satan”
He: “You should, he believes in you!”

The movie is Constantine,
• staring the Kiwi Keanu Reeves
• directed by music video maestro Francis Lawrence
• with perhaps more theology in its advertising than any flic since the Ten Commandments.

Well, how much theology was used to sell even The Passion? Didn’t they rather use the star quality of Mel (through the words) and of Jesus (through the images)?

It’s no wonder that the distributors thought a couple of free tickets should be thrown to the School of Theology… I was the “theologian”, and my (still just) teenage son was the representative of the likely target audience. Well, the plot and script was based on the DC/Vertigo comic book Hellblazer so I assume teenage boys are the target…

Released in the Northern Hemisphere spring (like the The Matrix) the film has been doing well and looks like making money. My small sample of the target audience pronounced it “cool” without much enthusiasm. The special effects are fine, like in Shrek 2, or perhaps more appropriately other recent horror flicks …

The theology is in both the script and the plot. The plot depends heavily on the belief that all suicides go to hell. John Constantine (Keanu Reeves) who like Angela Dodson and her twin sister (both Rachel Weisz) can see the half-cast devils and angels who break through to earth. Such half-casts are needed because God and the Devil have agreed to leave humans (almost) to their own devices to fight the battle of good and evil with only clues and hints from outside (echoes of Yancey’s Rumours of Another World?). This theology is highly dodgy and the mythology that packages it is worse.

Yet, strange mythology aside, the message of the film is basically Christian.

No matter how heroic, humans cannot save themselves or others, but that sacrifice and recognition of one’s helpless need can bring redemption.

That’s the gospel in a nutshell.

So, probably entertaining enough for its target audience, this movie is no classic of the cinema (as The Matrix was), but it could provide the stimulus for lots of good theological discussion, and even an old-fashioned revivalist “appeal” to conversion. Given the prominence of “Evangelical” (read Fundamentalist?) Christians in the USA elections recently it seems strange that the movie seems to be doing better in the European and Asian box office than at home. Perhaps the more secular Europeans can take their religion dressed up in apocalyptic myth more easily than US Christians can?


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