Artistic vision

The dilemma this one posed was not the treatment of Vincent Van Gogh’s outlook on life, but his outlook on Jesus in history, which, however, I can sort-of forgive as his Dutch liberal viewpoint. It makes a small part of the film, but a noticeable one. In At Eternity’s Gate (2018), post-impressionist artist Vincent Van Gogh wants to follow his artistic instincts and ‘follow the light’. It’s a noble quest that seeks beauty in the world. So, mild mannered Van Gogh goes to Arles, in the South of France (a lovely place!), on the suggestion of fellow artist Gaugin (played intense by Oscar Isaac). It was Van Gogh’s description of his faith that caused me to question how he saw the history of Jesus, rather than question his artistic vision. In this film, Van Gogh (Willem Dafoe) says Christ was only really known in the late first century, and earlier than that he was obscure. But to say Christ was obscure earlier is false. The records in the Acts of the Apostles show the beginnings and rapid growth of the Church and Christ’s message in the early and middle first century. But the film’s better points are what makes it rise above this historical flaw.

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The outer reaches

It is the 30-year anniversary of the release of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) which may the most underrated of all the Star Trek films. In it, a charismatic seeker of “ultimate knowledge”, who seeks God, Sybok (Laurence Luckinbill) takes over the U.S.S Enterprise while the ship’s on a mission. Sybok’s quest for God, in his case, seems more like a quest made in his own image, one which he is consumed by his underlying self-centeredness, albeit unknowingly, to even be God and have his knowledge. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) says Sybok, a fellow Vulcan, is a man ruled by his passions. Perhaps there is a sense that this Star Trek is a tad slight, but I was drawn into the story and it takes one on a journey which plays on the imagination. William Shatner co-wrote the story, as well as direct and star as Captain Kirk. Although it doesn’t live up to its epic standards is still an entertaining show, and the film starts with a spiritual tone to proceedings, and ends openly spiritual, leaving food for thought as to whether God exists for those who are not so sure. To boldly go…this Star Trek takes us past the Great Barrier into the final frontier where there is or isn’t God, but may be a projection of the beholder, perhaps God in one’s own image. The film still leaves a question about God open: is there a God? And how do we know God? It’s a spiritual question in what seems to be a spiritual age.

Published 2020,

Good and evil

I like a straight-forward tale of good versus evil and I am trying to rack my brains when I last saw one. There are many tales out there–in books, at the cinema, on the web–of the one’s I get to see and hear, I can’t think of too many good and evil tales recently. When that happens I go back in time and think of Star Wars and Krull.

I think Krull is more straightforward and obvious in its portrayal of good versus evil than the original Star Wars film. But where are the good old fashioned good takes on evil tales, today? Alas life goes on for better or worse, but I do remember that there have been a couple or a few films of good and evil recently, just don’t recall the titles at the moment.

When it comes down to it

I’ve written a number of articles about film, Christians and film, and spirituality and film, but none of them come within a shot’s eye of writing film reviews, which, by far, outstrips anything else I’ve done on the subject of film.

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