Samson– The Agony of Agonistes

Samson– The Agony of Agonistes March 21, 2018

We are now in the season of ‘Christian’ films, leading up to Easter of which there are at least three: 1) Samson; 2) I Can Only Imagine (a movie about the songwriter of that popular Christian praise song), and 3) Paul the Apostle. This review will deal only with the Samson film which received a 23% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which I would say is mostly justified, although the film is not without its moments.

First of all, the film is short (110 minutes) and full of the sort of violence one would expect, since the subject is Samson who slew all those Philistines. It’s not really suitable for small children, but I saw it with some teens who were frankly not stunned by the violence. In fact, if anything they found it tame it would appear. Of the actors you might actually recognize Lindsey Wagner as the mother of Samson, if you are old enough to remember her, and Rutger Hauer as his father. As for the handsome hunk that plays Samson, I doubt you’ve run across Taylor James before but he belongs in the WWE, not a Biblical movie.

So what interesting nuances are added in this portrayal of an already all too familiar story? I can mention a couple. Firstly, the portrayal of Delilah as not merely a temptress but actually a somewhat sympathetic character who is an abused woman who has some actual feelings for Samson and his plight, is good. And Samson as not simply an example of brain over brawn is helpful. Samson struggles with his relationship with God and he tries and fails but as fallible as he was he was still looking to God for guidance and strength. So there is a glimmer of real people behind the cartoon characters Samson and Delilah have too often become in Sunday schools and even in pulpits. But, I trust, there are better things to come, perhaps in these other two films.

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