‘There Be Dragons,’ Opus Dei and St. Josemaria Escrivá

“…if you are a saint, that means you stand for something.”

Interesting insights from a self-styled agnostic, Roland Joffé:

In a way, it was Josemaria’s very controversiality that made him interesting, Joffé suggested, adding, “I don’t think an uncontroversial saint is a very good idea. I’m not quite sure how you could be an uncontroversial saint, because … if you are a saint, that means you stand for something.”

via Roland Joffé Talks About ‘There Be Dragons,’ Opus Dei and St. Josemaria Escrivá | Daily News | NCRegister.com.

Cross of Opus Dei - based primarily on en:Imag...
Cross of Opus Dei - "work of God" - Image via Wikipedia

As reviewer Steven Greydanus notes, Roland seems ‘God-haunted’. Particularly noteworthy are his lucid comments on the actual implications of freedom of choice – or Free Will – one of my favorite topics.


Edward Feser: The Metaphysics of The Fly

Global Exclaimer Writer
“David Cronenberg’s remake of The Fly is one of the two most disgusting movies I have ever seen; the other is John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing. I love them both.”
Fly fish
The Fly!!


via Edward Feser: The Metaphysics of The Fly.

Ah, a movie reviewer after my own heart.

This was really an interesting review and I suggest you read it, live it, BE it. Be The Fly. Or, maybe just be Human.


US Edition Cover, May 1971
This cover hints at the lid to the Ark of The Covenant. – Image via Wikipedia

(CARROLLTON) – Today I have decided to review and defend a movie typically NOT lionized by Christians in general: Jesus Christ Superstar.

As a lad (this movie came out in 1971 – actually that was the stage show, the movie was, I think, 1973) I remember the nuns in my grade school briefly discussing this movie. I believe the word blasphemy was thrown around. Naturally, I watched it as soon as I could. The song of the same name had become somewhat popular on the radio, and I remember being struck by certain lyrics. I am writing this from memory – the music was catchy and the lyrics fluid and easy to remember:

Jesus Christ, Superstar, who are you what have you sacrificed? – If someone really isn’t sure what Jesus was all about, this is a very legitimate question and deserves an answer. I think the nuns didn’t like it because the movie does not give any answers.

Every time I look at you
I don’t understand
Why you let the things you did
Get so out of hand – This is sung by Judas. Hey, nobody understood Jesus. Not Peter, not James and John, nobody. Certainly they did not fully understand until after the resurrection.

You’d have managed better
If you’d had it planned
Now why’d you choose such a backward time
And such a strange land? – This to me was always a legitimate question. Why then? Of course, whenever it was, that would always be the question. But why then? One has to recall that time period. This was during Pax Romana, the Roman Peace. Understand that while the Romans went around conquering territory, what they really did was bring peace. Under the Roman version of Manifest Destiny, they saw their mission as bringing peace to the world. Areas under Roman Rule were not warring with one another.

If you’d come today
You could have reached the whole nation
Israel in 4 BC had no mass communication – I remember as a kid thinking “Yeah, really! What a strange time to come!” But, in view of my above comments, in reality, this was a perfect time. Rome built roads. Roman citizens, such as Paul of Tarsus, had free passage to large parts of the world. In earlier times, or in later times, Christianity probably would  not have spread like it did. I’m not saying it couldn’t, I’m just saying I think I know why then.

Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ
Who are you? What have you sacrificed?
Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ
Who are you? What have you sacrificed?
Jesus Christ
Do you think you’re what they say you are?
Jesus Christ
Do you think you’re what they say you are? – These are legitimate questions. It would have served the nuns well to pose these questions and have discussion about the answers to them, as the answers are known.

That’s the limit of what I had memorized. But Wait! There’s More!

Tell me what you think
About your friends at the top
Now who d’you think besides yourself
Was the pick of the crop?
Buddah was he where it’s at?
Is he where you are?
Could Muhammmed move a mountain
Or was that just PR?
Did you mean to die like that?
Was that a mistake or
Did you know your messy death
Would be a record breaker? – These are very real questions, especially from the standpoint of someone who knows nothing about Christ. Solid legitimate questions, they go unanswered in the movie.

Other issues revolve around the tragic figure of Judas and the sympathy shown him, and then there are doctrinal issues especially concerning the Last Supper. Alas, I have run out of time for this post, and will try to take this up later. And many were scandalized by the sexual overtones in the portrayal of Mary Magdalene. The song she sings deserves some reflection as well.

It is an interesting exercise to watch this movie, and then another day to watch The Passion of The Christ.

Uh, come to think of it, the transition from the whipped Jesus in dirty robes into pure white suggests the resurrection.

Read Part 2 of this review>


The Fifth Element

I just like science fiction; I love science fiction books, magazines, TV shows and movies. I am very forgiving of any well produced, credibly acted, science fiction effort.

Not surprisingly, I like The Fifth Element. Whenever I am channel surfing, if it is on, I watch. It is one of those movies that is called a cult classic. As there are any number of Trekkers or Star Wars fans that will drive some dollars to any space movie, it is not surprising it gets a lot of viewings. But, this movie attracts people that are decidedly not Trekkers. Folks that run away from the likes of Aliens or Blade Runner will sit and watch this movie over and over.

My experience is that anyone that sits for the first 5 minutes sits for the whole movie.

Why? Some would point to Milla Jovovich (Leeloo) and her introductory scene which features titillating partial nudity, and much wriggling about. Others would say Bruce Willis (Korben Dallas) is just watchable. And it is hard to ignore the larger than life portrayal of Ruby Rhod (can you say innuendo?) by Chris Tucker. But the opening scene in the Egyptian desert really captures the imagination, and the abrupt switch from 1914 Egypt to a confrontation with Evil by a battle cruiser out amongst the Gas Giants of our solar system just hooks you. Strap in, for you are along for the ride.

Along the way the movie presents vistas and vignettes that leave lasting impressions. One scene, which appears ludicrous at start is ultimately mesmerizing. The Diva Plavalaguna is the worst sort of alien in plastic garb I’ve ever seen, complete with superfluous tentacles or sinewy ropes or god knows what protruding from her head. My initial impression was, “this is silly.” Then she starts her show. It is a haunting interlude. The last thing I would have thought I would be writing about that scene when it started was that it was beautiful. It is beautifully mesmerizing.

This is done with light and sound and just good cinematography. I would never have expected to look forward to this part of the movie, but it has a grandeur that grabs your imagination.

So, this movie has all this cool stuff: Alien races, drama, mythos, interesting characters, cool visuals and special effects; and it is basically a comedy. No wonder it is so watchable. But as I said earlier, people that you would not expect to like this movie have watched it numerous times. Why?

The movie succeeds attracting such a wide audience because it is about Life and Love, Good and Evil. You know, the stuff of great movies. But is is presented in this comic book style. One may not think comic books can be subtle, but the messages here are deftly presented in an understated manner. When the movie is over, you are left with a strangely positive feeling.

This is an interestingly life affirming movie. The basic presentation of Evil here is as a blight that destroys life. Life and Love, however, smother Evil. In a scene between the priest Vito Cornelius and Zorg, the amoral self absorbed villain of the movie, Zorg attemtps to convince Cornelius that destruction creates life. That Chaos is Good. He breaks a glass and lots of automated widgets spring into action to clean up the mess. Zorg presents this as a Good. He is in reality merely rationalizing his own self serving beliefs, and the priest knows this is a lie.

Zorg then chokes on a cherry and the priest demonstrates that Good is to be found in life giving service to your fellow man. Destruction does not create life. Life overcomes Destruction.

The relationship between Leeloo and Korben illuminates this message. Leeloo is the Fifth Element, the force that stops Evil. In conjunction with Earth, Air, Fire and Water, she becomes the ultimate weapon. Yet at the final moment, when it is time to fire the weapon, the firing pin is missing. The spark is gone from the flint. The weapon will not fire.

Earth, Air, Fire and Water are not alive. From ancient times these four things were thought to be elemental, foundational. From these things, all the Universe is made. But, what good is a Universe full of nothing but Earth, Air, Fire and Water? Lifeless matter must of needs be animated by something. By something more than just elements or chaos. There is a spiritual component. There is a Fifth Element.

Leeloo is alive. A living spiritual existence. A Being. Leeloo needs help from others. To become a life giving force that prevents Death, Leeloo needs Love. Very basically, very essentially, when she is loved by Korben, Life issues forth.

The Fifth Element is Love.