Sympathy for the Devil

During the OJ trial, I heard a Brit joke that Americans love show trials so much that they’d try Satan if they could.

Well, in the upcoming movie Suing the Devil, that’s exactly what happens. The problem of evil gets hashed out in a courtroom drama.

This looks so very heavy-handed. So many Evangelicals who try to create popular culture haven’t grasped the idea of understatement or subtlety. I hear that every time I catch one of the Christian music stations.

I think the part that bothers me most is that there have been so many interesting treatments of Satan in literature. Think of the proud Satan of Paradise Lost or the quirky Professor Woland of The Master and Margarita.

There’s also so much potential for Satan in a court room drama. The Old Testament version of Satan is God’s prosecuting attorney, so you can see the potential in that. And of course the famous quote from A Man for All Seasons:

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

At least it looks like Malcolm McDowell is having fun. He really chews the scenery as Old Scratch, and that might be the only thing worth seeing in the movie.

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