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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Watch: New Leftovers trailer, plus vintage Rapture movies

HBO has released a second trailer for The Leftovers, the Rapture-themed series that premieres June 29.

The most striking thing about this trailer, to me at least, is the fact that it begins with people praying for the return of those who vanished a few years earlier.

I honestly can’t recall if I have ever seen that in a Rapture movie before. Most Rapture movies work from the premise that those who vanish have left this world for good — and the people who make those films tend to assume that all of the characters would share this belief. The possibility that the Christians and others who are “left behind” might not share this assumption simply doesn’t occur to them.

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Damon Lindelof on the “mythology” of The Leftovers

The New York Times has a new profile of Damon Lindelof, the former Lost producer who has since worked on the Star Trek franchise and done rewrites for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus and Marc Forster’s World War Z, etc.

Most of the article looks at Lindelof’s background, how he dealt with the negative fallout from the final episode of Lost, and how he hopes to avoid that sort of thing with his new show, The Leftovers — but along the way there are some interesting tidbits about the new show itself.

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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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