Tommy Lee Jones on Flannery O’Connor


In December, Barry Pepper talked about the influence of the Bible and the works of Flannery O’Connor on The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, written and directed by Tommy Lee Jones. Now Jones himself discusses the subject in the Boston Globe:

Flannery O’Connor matters to this movie first because Jones wrote his cum laude thesis at Harvard on her. Second, family members of the film’s coproducer, Michael Fitzgerald, are executors of O’Connor’s literary estate. ”So we both knew our O’Connor rather well, and it was just a natural approach for me.”

”O’Connor is important to the way this movie is constructed,” he continues. ”What you do is you consider some so-called religious thinking without the didacticism of the classical approach. You look for the allegorical intentions of what we’re taught in the Bible, and then find some way to have it revealed or expressed by common experience. You’ll find this happening over and over again in O’Connor, who was a rather classical Catholic thinker who wrote about nothing but backwoods north Georgia rednecks.”

”Ecclesiastes is essential to the movie as well,” he says. ”It has to do with the passage of time. You want to start thinking as an actor that the past, the present, and the future are occurring simultaneously, and God requires an accounting of all three.”

Thanks to Amy Welborn for the link. Also thanks to Christian for linking to this NPR interview where Jones says:

People ask me to describe Huey Calloway, the character you just heard, and I’ve found it convenient to describe him as a Buddhist soul in a Calvinist world, and I haven’t yet thought up a catch phrase for Three Burials, but it has something to do with the consideration of the mechanics of faith.

And from there he starts talking about Flannery O’Connor again.

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his film column, which won multiple awards from the Evangelical Press Association, the Canadian Church Press and the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) and Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08741378159534413277 Magnus

    Wow, I am very interested in seeing this. Tommy Lee Jones… who’d uh thunk it?

  • samara

    Tommy Lee Jones is a Harvard graduate. Dang, if his IQ is not higher than James Woods’ 180 I don’t know whose is.


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