I haven't read the books – OK, that's my disclaimer! I just innocently wandered into the theater yesterday as a clean slate – not knowing what to expect, NOT knowing the storyline or characters, NOT knowing much except that it was great to be at the movie with Vicky and a couple of our close pals. I love films…I really do. I love to see divergent worldviews artistically portrayed…and although it has always been my experience that a film never reaches the scope, entertainment value and depth of a literary work, it is fun to see somebody with artistic vision take their best shot. Subsequently, I have the books on my Kindle because, as a committed student of the culture (yeah, right) I feel I need to get my head around something that obviously is a cultural phenomenon. I heard about the books at Christmas time…I kept seeing them at the "top of the best seller list" and I was curious…but I have a HUGE list of books I have "on deck" in my life (good ones too – including NT Wright's new book on the Kingdom of God, Bass' book on Christianity after Religion, a book on Gettysburg, etc.) so I bypassed the temptation. To say the least, the movie got me curious…
All I can say is "bleak"…in fact, that's what one of my friends in our faith community and I talked about when we briefly discussed the film today – "bleak view of the world." I must admit, the film is hard to watch…not much "redeeming" value unless you want to see authoritarianism, abuse, death, and discrimination played out for you. I compare my experience of the film with what I felt after watching Schnidler's List…in fact, that isn't too bad of a comparison because the themes of the two movies are a bit alike – one historical and one apocalyptical. If someone wants to see what totalitarianism is all about, take a gander at the Hunger Games. I want to read the books for one BIG reason…to catch more of the backstory of how the world got to be in the shape it is in as seen on screen. I get a bit but need more information. I tell you, left to our own devices…stripped of any shred of morality other than what comes out of the "mind" of a human being, you can see where the world could get this debased. This is a world where life is expendable for the entertainment of the privileged masses. The director of the film does a good job showing a world of "COLOR" versus a bleak world that has natural beauty but is "toned" in colors that are obviously less vibrant, alive and distinctive. There is an extreme "duh" moment when you realize the differences in living between the "districts" and those in the city. And the fact that the privileged watch a spectacled television show (reality show at that, with all the trimmings of a show we would watch – complete with manipulation, rule changes, etc.) about people who are being sacrificed for entertainment value smacks so much of what our culture is becoming.
Like I said, I am going to start reading the books…there is a very noticeable absense of some human realities in the storyline…one of which has to do with anything having to do with a "God" figure (unless you look at an "exalted" ruler played by Donald Sutherland as some sort of human deity)…it appears that the storyline is really about human potential run amok. And when "run amok" the end result is pretty bleak. Oppression, obliteration of the world, slavery…it's all there.
Here's something that was interesting to me – kind of a "raw" moment…when the film ended, I turned to my friend Tom (we went to see the movie, John Carter the week before) and I said to him, "well at least with John Carter we had a few laughs!" This is not a funny movie…purposely so. I think it is one to be pondered…one to be soberly viewed…with the question in mind, "can we really do this to ourselves?" You know what…we can!