Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Who'da thunk it?

I was looking for reviews of Solaris (Tarkovsky version) when I came across the Top 100 Spiritual Films list. I was not particularly surprised that Solaris would be on a list of spiritual films, but I was surprised that it would be on a list of the best spiritual films at a Christian website. The movie is certainly open to a multitude of interpretations, but I find a Christian one difficult to formulate.

But the Arts & Faith site is full of surprises. A lot of it is just what you would expect – The Gospel According to Matthew, John, etc., Jesus of Nazareth, Peter and Paul, the Passion of the Christ. But surprisingly, there were many films that are good by any measure and don’t jump out at you as being Christian. Then there were a few that were jaw dropping surprises, Dogville, first among them.

I like Dogville very much and can argue that it is a spiritual movie, but not a positive one. Sure, the secular humanist philosopher comes off badly, but the good church going town folk turn out to be morally flawed, to put it mildly, and they neither seek nor find any redemption. If it is about spirituality, it is about the crushing of the spirit and its rebirth as a bitter and vengeful thing. And where is the Christian message? That one should say to hell with all that forgiveness shit, join the gangsters and slaughter anyone who ever wronged you? Yea, I could be cynical and say that is what today’s Christianity is all about, but that is not consistent with the depth and independence of the list. Take away the obvious Christian movies and the ones that remain would provide a good start for many right wing Christians' list of worst movies of all time.