I’ve grit my teeth at so many movies that have majored on this humanistic theme as time after time, main characters were called on to look within themselves to find whatever they needed to save themselves. It’s not that I expect to see prayer meetings and personal devotions appearing in every movie as
suddenly starts to churn out stories in which people turn to God for the help they need. It’s more that I’ve come to prefer a story that draws from the “We need a Saviour” theme of the Gospel so that people can see that they actually don’t have what it takes, never will, and desperately need to be rescued! Hollywood
My angst at the steady diet of humanistic drivel fed to countless movie-goers leaves me encouraged even when movies offer imperfect saviours, especially if they are portrayed with self-sacrifice and humility rather than with the same vain humanism of those trying to save themselves. This is what made Neo in “The Matrix” somewhat appealing to me. Certainly imperfect, and initially uncertain about his destiny, he chooses to leave behind all that is familiar and comfortable in his world to then find his capacity to save others through his dependence on others teaching him. Though I never saw the sequels to “The Matrix,” as sex and violence seemed to become more the dominant themes than the original premise of a search for a messiah, I did find in the original a desire in the characters to look beyond themselves for the help they needed and a self-sacrifice in the hero they found.
“The Lord of the Rings” goes even further. It is an example of a movie in which the heroes were not only those whom the world saw as small and easily overlooked, but made regular mention of an overriding Providence that helped them to find their way. And throughout all three films, there are many examples of how the characters saw that they needed others to help them and how characters made great personal sacrifices to offer such aid. Then in the end, the ones who clearly overcame the great evil of Sauron were the humble hobbits who didn’t even know what to do with the notoriety they received when their mission was accomplished.
Even though “The Dark Knight” offers similar fare as good battles to triumph over evil, we know from the previous movie, “Batman Begins,” (which I saw) that it is with more of a nod toward the hero finding what he needs “within himself.” In that initial film, Bruce Wayne finds his wisdom and guidance and inspiration to become the guardian of
through the inner reflection of an eastern religion that promotes the same self-oriented self-effort that humanism would endorse. I’m as troubled by this overriding theme in “The Dark Knight” as I am by the violence that I understand to be so well choreographed throughout it. Gotham City
But even with its flaws, “The Dark Knight,” like many other movies, is a distorted copy of the greatest story ever told – the Gospel, in which Jesus laid his life down to take the rap for a sinful race and to save all who put their trust in Him. And the most common distortion that these copies fall prey to is that the heroes typically save others by overcoming enemies by their strength. The original story tells of a Hero who meekly laid down His strength to save others through His death.
There are certainly films out there in which we can find encouragement in the self-sacrifice portrayed by its heroes and by good triumphing over evil. My concern, though, is that we should be as eager to avoid a film that affirms a looking within ourselves for all that we need as we would be to avoid a film full of gratuitous sex or violence.
© 2008 by Ken Peters
© 2008 by Ken Peters