This is another thing I like to post every Easter: Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, in The Greatest Story Ever Told. The emotional impact of this scene speaks for itself.
Why did Jesus do miraculous works? So that they would be a witness to whom and what He is. We have the Scriptures, we have the works, we have eyewitness testimony, and we have the Holy Spirit: Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior.
And here is where the Bible parts company with pious pagan fictions: John 11: 39:
Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.
This kind of realism would not enter fiction for centuries yet to come.
Here’s a movie that’s older than I am, and yet amazingly, maybe even shockingly, pertinent to today.
To the Ends of the Earth (1948) stars Dick Powell as a U.S. Treasury agent trying to bust up an international drug ring. Set in 1935, it might as well be now.
This film gave me an insight I’d never had before: the drug trade and human trafficking feed on one another: you don’t have one without the other. Agent Barrows gets one look at the human trafficking aspect of the crime–and I ought to warn you, it’s an intense scene–and devotes himself to bringing the criminals to justice.
To do that, he has to travel all over the world–to China, Egypt, Lebanon, Cuba, and then back to New York. Wherever he goes, he has to liaise with his local counterparts–men of all different countries, all working together to protect the world from organized evil. Here we cross over into fantasy-land, because all these guys are brave, unselfish, cooperative, and pure… instead of being unspeakably corrupt themselves.
But the idealism behind the film does come through, and I found it rather affecting. If only things could really be that way!
Alas: how could organized crime exist without criminals in government?
Nowadays we’re dealing with Mexican drug cartels, international bad guys in China and Iran and Russia helping them along, and massive human trafficking across our ruptured southern border. These are evils countenanced by the Democrat Party, whose leaders work hard to block reform. Whether they’re getting paid off by Communist China or just acting out of pure perversity depends on the individual.
We still have the problems dealt with in this film; but the idealism is now in short supply.
I mean, how could you possibly decide which was worse–movies based on comic books, with (ugh!) super-heroes; or The Great Gatsby with a rap “music” soundtrack? Like, what if you had magical powers to get rid of them forever–but you had to choose only one? What a dilemma!
Well–! Denzel Washington is going to play me in a movie!
Dig this plot. An aging fantasy writer–that would be me–comes out of semi-retirement (writers never really retire, we can’t afford it) to take on El Borracho, the most ruthless, fiendish, unpleasant drug lord in all of… I think it’s Kazakhstan, but bear with me, I’ve only read the screenplay once… to avenge the murder of his second cousin’s nephew’s brother-in-law. Brushing up on his jumpin’, spinnin’ kicks, he also invents a whole new martial art, involving boxes of Kleenex tissues, that no one has ever seen before. That’s what gives him the edge!
Written by Violet Crepuscular, the working title is Murder My Second Cousin’s Nephew’s Brother-in-Law, Will You? It has a certain ring do it!
Filmed entirely in my front yard so I can sit there and be a technical adviser, we’re still rounding up a supporting cast. A US president known only as “The Big Guy,” in cahoots with El Borracho, will be played by a large stick insect that has worn out its welcome at the San Diego Zoo. We’re looking for big-name actors to play assorted bad guys, and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is on board to play the Russian honcho, Biff Putin. We’ll also feature some really great cat videos.
It’s going to be directed by a guy who did some kind of work on a Godfather movie that never made it to the theaters, but it wasn’t his fault and besides which, he works cheap.
That’s all I can tell you for now. The rest is shrouded in secrecy!
In The Robe (1953), Richard Burton played the Roman officer in charge of crucifying Jesus Christ; and he wins Christ’s robe with a roll of the dice. Victor Mature is the slave who takes the robe away from him.
We do have to be careful about using “Bible movies” to teach us the truth that is in the Bible; but this scene from The Robe packs a wallop, emotionally–and I’m pretty sure we need that.
Not that this movie has any explicitly Christian content; nor am I sure that the parable I’m seeing in it was intentionally put there by the film-makers. But I see it notwithstanding.
Anthony Hopkins plays a clever man who finds out his wife is cheating on him with a police lieutenant. So he hatches a fiendishly clever plan to kill his wife and manipulate the lieutenant into unknowingly destroying all the evidence of the crime. I mean, this plan is a doozie!
An up-and-coming young prosecutor tries to bring Hopkins to justice, but the killer outwits him at every turn. Meanwhile, the policeman is desperate for revenge and keeps trying to tempt the prosecutor to lie and cheat and manufacture evidence to win the case.
So where’s the parable? Let me see if I can tell you without spoiling the movie for you.
More than anything else, what brings criminals under judgment? What keeps them from getting away with their crimes? Why were even the pagan ancient Greeks so convinced that their gods would surely punish evildoers who’d seemed to escape punishment by worldly authorities?
Those are hints.
God does not always punish crimes here and now; sometimes He waits. Sometimes He uses evil men to chastise His own people. But you can be sure the crimes not punished here are punished somewhere else.
*Sigh* Just what we needed–another gritty big-city cop show. Nancy Drew, a smart-as-a-whip teenaged girl, with her own roadster–that was creative. Unusual. Interesting! And young readers loved those books just as they were for 70 years. More than that, even. So of course you let a bunch of Far Left boobs in the TV series erase every trace of charm, originality, or pleasure. That’s what they do best.
Welcome to Nooze-free Sunday! It’s also on the verge of being reader-free: where did everybody go?
So yesterday we watched The Thing (from Another World), the original film classic from 1951. The date’s important: by 1951, “flying saucers” could still be called “flying discs” and hadn’t yet morphed into a whole cultural industry. Astoundingly enough, this movie does a superb job of conveying the menace of the unknown. It has stood up very well indeed to the passage of 70 years, outlasting and outperforming scores of modern UFO-themed movies.
You do have to laugh off some evolutionary palaver, and accept the premise that intelligent vegetable life on a planet far, far away can produce a being that looks like James Arness.
But never mind all that! There are the guys standing around, trying to figure out how to get the flying saucer out of the ice at the North Pole, and skipping blithely ahead into horrible danger. This is suspenseful. I admit it creeped me out. Someone should’ve been there to cry, “Wait, wait, please wait! Are we sure this is a good idea?” Not that anyone would listen.
Well, it turns out not to be a good idea. Meanwhile, the general back in Anchorage keeps transmitting orders that are always two steps behind the ongoing disaster. Typical!
The Thing (not to be confused with Joe Biden’s description of the Declaration of Independence) is an unpretentious, solid, classic science fiction/horror movie–just the ticket for a dreary grey day in the middle of the winter.