In orthodox Christian belief, Jesus is both God and man, fully divine and fully human. And it is because God has revealed himself in the form of a particular person who lived in a particular time and a particular place that Christians down through the ages have generally felt free to portray Jesus in icons, passion plays, and other forms of religious art. But except for the most basic and theologically essential points, such works of art have generally passed over the particularities of Jesus’s life. His humanity, expressed in the mere fact that he can be depicted at all, is often balanced with his divinity by a degree of artistic abstraction: Whether depicting Christ in static paintings or following the stations of the cross according to a set pattern, artists have tended to downplay realistic or naturalistic details to focus on the more eternal truths.
I conducted this phone interview as part of my research for an article I wrote for Books & Culture. I have liked the films of Errol Morris ever since I saw The Thin Blue Line in 1989, and the film which occasioned this article, Fast, Cheap & Out of Control, was easily my favorite film of 1997. I had heard that Morris lets his interviewees ramble without interruption, the better to see what they reveal about themselves, so I tried a similar approach.
February 27, 1996
Robert Amram’s film The Late Great Planet Earth, a 1979 documentary based on the 1970 book of the same name by Hal Lindsey, tries to act as a bridge of sorts between time periods. It purports to predict the future based on writings from the past, and it relies on an eclectic array of stock footage, dramatic recreations, interviews with “experts”, and “voice of God” narration to establish a link between the unseen future and the obscured past. Simultaneously, it is very much a product of its own time, and it acts as a record of sorts of the paranoias and social movements that typified the 1970s. It also represents, in some tangential way, a key aspect of the rise of Christian pop culture.
WARNING!: If you have not seen T2 and wish to keep its story a surprise, do not read any further!
Terminator 2: Judgment Day opened to big box office returns and a great deal of hullabaloo over its precedent-shattering special effects. A few of you have even confessed to paying to see the spectacle a second or third time within a week of its opening. It’s rumoured to have cost over $100 million to produce, and there’s no doubt that the money is on the screen (unlike recent cheap big-budget films like Batman). Nobody seems to mind that the sequel is terribly inconsistent with the original film, both in its concept of time-travel and in its overall tone.