Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Straight Story

Jason, I concede to you that Brandon seems to have joined you and gone over to the dark side.  Earlier in the day yesterday, things didn't seem so grim.

I'm mostly done with Inception, but I want to respond to your Samson reference.

"My point is that sometimes a film needs to be amoral so as not to distract the audience. It's a story, right or wrong, and I don't always want to be preached at. Samson wasn't exactly a good guy, but we love reading about him. The consequences of his actions caught up with him, but we are never told specifically by the narrator that his actions are sinful (I don't think- it's been a while)."

If a film is amoral or immoral, then to hell with it.  It may be stunningly crafted like Synechdoche, New York or a mess like Inception or a worthless waste of time like Halloween II or an all-out assault like Bruno.   Any way it is, I'm not interested in coming back to it.  The films either don't resonate with me at all or actively turn me off.  Okay, I might revisit Synechdoche.

Inception wants to be a heist movie.  Well, the best heist movies of the past, from Asphalt Jungle to Rififi, all acknowledge the essential shadiness of the job being done.  Sometimes the characters have our sympathies, sometimes they don't.  But, in the past we always knew that what they were doing was wrong.  I haven't seen Ocean's 11 or any other recent heist films that I can think of, but if Inception is representative of these films, then I'm not interested.

But I'm getting distracted.  Back to Samson.

You wrote, "Samson wasn't exactly a good guy..." What?  It really has been too long since you've read Judges.  Samson is EXACTLY a good guy.  He's set apart from the womb as special!  And his life is spent in service of the LORD and as a judge in Israel for 20 years.  He's most definitely one of the good guys.

14:4 it was of the LORD
14:6 And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him
14:19 And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him
15:14 and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him
15:19 But God clave an hollow place  

But, yes, next in the story comes his indiscretion with a harlot and his chasing after Delilah.  The narrator does not specifically tell us that Samson sins here, but we also lose the refrain of "the Spirit of the LORD came upon him."  You're right about that, that Samson's sin is never exicitly mentioned, but it is implicitly obvious.  We know (and the original audience steeped in the Law certainly knew) from the context of the rest of Scripture that Samson was to uphold God's Law.  We don't need the narrator to tell us specifically that Samson has transgressed the law.  

The difference in Inception is that we have no moral frame of reference in the film.  Nolan presents us with these figures engaged in an evil act (I'm bringing this judment to the film; It's not there as such in the film) as our heroes as they achieve evil.  Judges presents us with a hero engaged with righteousness who obviously falls from the path, then is redeemed.  

I get your point.  I don't want to be "preached at" during a story either.  But, there is a clear difference between the Samson story and Inception.  One draws us nearer to Christ (just to be clear here, Jason, that's the Samson story!).  The other one (Inception) subtly advocates for the awesomeness of being a mind thief.   

I don't think I'm being "moralistic" or a prude here.  I've already named two heist movies I enjoy and there are plenty of crime pictures that I adore.  It all has to do with perspective.

There is a sense in which I understand your "amoral" comment that is evidenced in Hitchcock's work.  Rope features a couple of reprehensible young men, but there are multiple times in the story where we, the audience, are tense because the crime may be discovered.  In the moment, we irrationally wish against justice and hope for the crime to succeed.  Hitchcock gives us a taste of the criminal and perverse, then ultimately makes us question why we sympathize with it.  Nolan just takes us along for the ride.  Just the thrills, ma'am.

I don't know if I'm being clear here, but I'm trying to hammer out posts quickly here to satiate you ravenous dreamhounds.

No comments: