fredag 1. februar 2008

Medievalists and movies

Before leaving for some major snow shuffling this weekend (one of the perils of having a family with a cabin in the mountains), a nod to Claw of the Councilator who made me aware of a Medievalist's take on Kingdom of Heaven.

Yesterdays' news in more senses than one, still rather hillarious.

We know Guy is a bad person, because he's rude and French and talks about God a lot. In fact, anytime anyone talks about God a lot in the movie, they're bad. Orlando, who is struggling with religious doubt brought on by the death of his wife and child, is good, but not really very good at making you understand that he's struggling with religious doubt unless he says outright, "I'm struggling with religious doubt," but he does say it, so don't worry. Then his dad dies, and they all decide to go see his lands in Jerusalem.

It gets worse.

Let me sum it up like this: arrows, fire, and heroic speeches. For any scene, pick two of the three elements and mix them together. Every time there's a heroic speech, the movie grinds to a halt, because Orlando, God bless him, can't summon up masculine swagger to save his perfectly tousled head. It's like watching a kitten dressed up like George C. Scott's Patton. Sure, the big flag is behind him, but everything he says falls flat--especially the part where he tells the defenders of Jerusalem that their holy sites don't matter and that all religions are essentially crap. I think perhaps crusaders, even reluctant ones who are only there because they killed a priest who insulted their dead suicide wives, probably didn't shout those things to big mobs with weapons, even if they might have secretly believed them. Call me crazy.

This is the big problem with the movie, and it only gets worse when the Archbishop of Jerusalem instructs people, fearing they're all about to be captured, to 'covert to the heathen faith and repent later'. This is supposed to show that he's a craven fake, but not five minutes ago when Orlando was telling us, 'all religions are bunk,' we were supposed to see him as a champion of "the people" and a crack theological thinker.

Though, as we all know, the movie is not about the Crusades at all. It is Ridley Scott's take on politics in the 21th Century.

And what does a Medievalist know about such matters?

torsdag 31. januar 2008

Memories of Madeleine

As a fantasy fan (well, the Tolkien/Lewis/Chesterton/Powers league at least), it was a delight to discover also Madeleine L'Engle. Witty and wise, fantastic and fun. And she was no copy cat.

Few authors had such a distinctive style as Madeleine. She went her own way. She avoided routes that tasted of mediocrity. Of course this applied also to theology. What creative artist has really ever accepted other persons' views of truth, not to mention Church Councils' (except from Tolkien/Lewis/Chesterton/Powers)?

And Madeleine was more creative than most.

Madeleine left us five months ago, almost 90 years old. Hopefully she may show that is is possible to be inventive to the end, especially if you are made in the image of God. In other words, human.

What better way to remember her than by reading a tribute by someone who knew her?

Then you have to get out your copy of A Wrinkle in Time again, of course. And the rest of the L'Engle canon. You deserve the company of Meg, Charles and the twins. And not a few others.

onsdag 30. januar 2008

Bede is back

Just to mention that the honourable Bede is back, after some months in hiatus - welcome!

Whether I am back is another question.