IT’S BEEN said so often that it’s now something of a cliché — popular culture is where a lot of people turn these days in search of myth, meaning and a general sense of community. Nowhere is this spiritual hunger more obvious than among science fiction fans, some of whom camped outside theatres for weeks — even a couple of months — to claim the best seats in the house when the new Star Wars movie arrived. The first film,… Read more

In the past few years, I have grown increasingly fond of European films. While most major American films seem intent on telling their audiences how to feel and how to think, the better foreign films take an artistic step back, eschewing music and other manipulative tricks and allowing their audiences to relate more directly to the characters. The Dreamlife of Angels is such a film. It begins with Isa (Elodie Bouchez), a 20-year-old who owns nothing but the contents of… Read more

REALITY ISN’T what it used to be. For whatever reason — premillennial anxiety, post-modern rootlessness, the increasing verisimilitude of special effects — filmmakers are increasingly obsessed with the notion that the real world is, in fact, unreal. Last year gave us The Truman Show and Dark City, in which human protagonists awoke to discover they were trapped in cages under someone else’s watchful eye. Similar themes may surface next month in The Thirteenth Floor. (more…) Read more

• Marcus Borg & N.T. Wright: The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions, HarperSanFrancisco, 1998. Four years ago, I had the privilege of interviewing Marcus Borg and N.T. Wright for this newspaper when they met for a dialogue — no one wanted to call it a debate — at Regent College. Both men are members of the Anglican church and historians who specialize in ‘the historical Jesus,’ but they have very different understandings of who and what Jesus was, and they… Read more

Just about every kind of disaster film has appeared on screens big and small in the past few years, so it was only a matter of time before some producer turned to the Bible for inspiration. The result is Noah’s Ark, a two-part mini-series produced by Robert Halmi Sr., the renowned showman who has made it his mission to bring literary classics such as Gulliver’s Travels, The Odyssey and Moby Dick to TV sets everywhere. Floods, volcanoes, meteors, tornadoes, shipwrecks… Read more

Revelation, the second in a proposed trilogy of end-times movies written and produced by Peter and Paul Lalonde, is that rarest of films: a sequel that improves on its predecessor in just about every possible way. Of course, such praise may sound faint when the previous film was Apocalypse, a tacky soap-opera-style collection of talking heads and recycled news footage that suffered from poor acting and cheesy ideas. But Revelation is a remarkably assured piece of filmmaking in its own… Read more

Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line is a brooding and introspective look at war, and with that in mind I’d like to start with a little brooding of my own. I have never known what to make, as a Christian, of war. I grew up in a nominally Mennonite, and therefore pacifist, environment, but I currently attend an Anglican church where the walls are decorated with memorials to parishioners who died — and killed — in battle. (more…) Read more

Movie sets often feature archaeological remains, but how often do they become archaeological sites in their own right? Parts of Cecil B. DeMille’s first version of The Ten Commandments were filmed on a massive set built in the sand dunes near Guadalupe, California. To prevent competitors from shooting their own films on the site and beating him to the box office, DeMille buried the set under the sand once he was done, and there it lay undisturbed for 60 years…. Read more

Moses is revered by three major world religions as a hero of the faith, a prophet, and a lawgiver. He is also a thriving part of popular culture. When the National Rifle Association recently elected Charlton Heston, who is best known for his portrayal of Moses in Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments, as its new president, the NRA’s vice president said that it was “a way of saying, ‘Hey, Moses is on our side.'” And when Jeffrey Katzenberg, cofounder… Read more

While the show’s premise is rooted strongly in secular humanism, Star Trek is, at the same time, profoundly concerned with issues of truth and morality. But only to a point. Star Trek: Insurrection, the latest movie in this TV and film franchise, offers a striking case in point. In it, Captain Jean-Luc Picard (played by Patrick Stewart) discovers that the Federation is secretly planning to relocate an alien race, the Ba’Ku, against its will. This is in violation of the… Read more

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