The Leftovers: “The birth of religion in the face of mystery.”

The Leftovers — the HBO series about a community coping with the Rapture-like disappearance of many of its members — premieres this coming weekend, and while I haven’t been scouring the internet for coverage of this series the way I sometimes do for films like Noah etc., a few things have popped up in my regular news feeds, including a new video, a new interview with the show’s creators, and a handful of reviews.

The interview, with novelist Tom Perrotta and series producer Damon Lindelof, is up at The Daily Beast, and it’s a bit of a frustrating read for me, as I find myself nodding along at some points and wanting to argue with the interviewees at others. Here’s a sample:
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Chaos reigns in new Left Behind teaser trailer

Here we go! The new Left Behind reboot has a teaser, which you can watch to the right. I’ll say this much: it looks more like a “real” movie than the original film that came out 14 years ago. You can watch the teaser for that film — which makes it look every bit like the straight-to-video production that it was — and see a new poster for the reboot below the jump.

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Damien is all grown up in TV follow-up to The Omen

The Exorcist spawned a series of sequels and prequels that couldn’t agree on where its characters had come from or where they were going. Now it seems the same fate has befallen The Omen, which was one of the other big supernatural horror movies from the 1970s.

The original film spawned two big-screen sequels that saw Damien Thorn, the boy destined to become the Antichrist, grow to adulthood. The third film ended with the Second Coming of Christ and the death of the Antichrist at the hands of his lover, but it was followed ten years later by a TV-movie in which we learned that Damien had sired a daughter in whom his creepiness lived on. (Meanwhile, the TV-movie also revealed, no doubt unintentionally, that the Second Coming had had absolutely zero effect on the world, and that things were still ticking along as though nothing had happened.)

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Will The Leftovers steal some of Left Behind’s thunder?

Fred Clark makes an interesting argument that hadn’t occurred to me before: If the secular Rapture drama The Leftovers premieres on HBO in June — just a little more than three months before the Christian Rapture reboot Left Behind comes to theatres in October — then the secular TV show could make it even more difficult than it already is for some people to take the Christian movie seriously.

Specifically, Clark zeroes in on the fact that The Leftovers is designed to get people asking the sorts of empathetic what-if questions that the Left Behind books and films have shown very little interest in. As Clark puts it: [Read more...]

Quick updates on The Leftovers and the Left Behind reboot

The Rapture stories told by Christians tend to fall into one of two camps: they are either intended to scare the reader or viewer into becoming a Christian, so that he or she will qualify for the Rapture and be spared the terrors of life under the Antichrist; or they are intended to give Christians a chance to do some tribal chest-thumping, as the characters who somehow become Christian after the Rapture actively do what they can to undermine the Antichrist and his evil regime.

Rarely do these stories actively try to empathize with the people who are “left behind” when the Rapture happens. (One of the reasons I love the Daniel Amos song ‘Lady Goodbye’ is because it does try to imagine what that experience would be like.) Lately, however, storytellers of a less obviously religious bent have begun to fill that gap.

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Saints, Sinners, and Salvation

The Terminator franchise — including the new Terminator Salvation — is full of religious imagery, much of it ultimately embracing hope for mankind.

Whenever people ask me what my favorite Christmas movie is, I tell them it’s The Terminator — and I’m only half-joking.

The film, which celebrates its 25th anniversary later this year, is not exactly a religious movie or even a holiday movie on any obvious level. It’s an R-rated sci-fi action film with plenty of violence, a fair bit of profanity, and a sex scene that was standard fare for modestly-priced B-movies of that time. And yet, there is something about the storyline, written by director James Cameron, that has always brought the Nativity to mind.

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