Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Exorcist, Getting the Hell Scared Out of You - Part 3

Can mainstream Hollywood movies made by nonbelievers have the ability to change your life and lead you toward God? Can they communicate truth? Do they have the power to challenge the decisions we make and the life we pursue? Absolutely. I am a living example. (see part 1 ) Yes, it can do all of the above and more. Here are just a few other examples of films that convey truth and have the potential to lead viewers toward a relationship with God.

Smoke Signals from 1998 and Magnolia from 1999 are redemptive stories about forgiveness. Smoke Signals’ main character, Victor, must deal with his pain and inability to forgive his father, who abandoned the family when Victor was a child. The film poses thought-provoking questions. “How do we forgive our fathers? Do we forgive our fathers in our age or theirs? Saying it to them or not saying it?” What would appear on the surface to be a simple movie about two characters on a road trip, in reality, is a movie that offers us a perspective into our relationships with our fathers. Magnolia is a three-hour film into the very heart of the human condition. I can’t think of one emotion that is not expressed somewhere in the film.

In Magnolia we can all see ourselves in the characters portrayed. The film presents nine different story lines which ultimately merge into one story. What drives the heart of this film is the idea that there is nothing you have done or not done that cannot be forgiven, no matter what your past is or what acts you have committed that you believe are beyond redemption. It’s a powerful statement that embraces the idea that in order for human beings to find peace, they must seek forgiveness.

American Beauty is a film that most Christians found extremely offensive. Lester Burnham is a middle-aged man who has lost the ability to feel anything in life. His existence is defined by the mundane aspects of everyday life until he has an encounter with his teenager daughter’s best friend. Although he never acts on his impulse, he does lust after her. The film offers a hard look at life in America’s suburbia. The story is really about our own self-made imprisonment in cages that we build ourselves. What our character discovers about life is that the mundane things are really the things that we should be most grateful for but are often the things we overlook. It’s the daily experiences of life that define who we are. Beauty therefore can be found in just the process of living. Needless to say, audiences identified with Lester’s character and in his pursuit to find the beauty of life. The movie is a search for purpose and meaning. American Beauty uses the catalyst of an improper relationship, which finally wakes Lester up to realize that fulfillment cannot be found in the lust for flesh . It can only be found in the pursuit of living life.

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