TWO very different movies that focus on faith-based fanaticism have been brought to our attention this week.
The first is Agora, which stars Rachel Weisz. It is an epic film that recounts the story of Hypatia Of Alexandria, a pagan philosopher who was killed for her political beliefs.
It has just opened in a limited number of cinemas in the US to great acclaim, but has been utterly condemned by the Catholic Church.
Just days before the release last year in Europe of Spanish director Alejandro Amenabar’s movie, religious organisations denounced the film for promoting hatred of Christians and reinforcing false clichÃ©s about the Catholic Church.
The President of the Religious Anti-Defamation Observatory in Spain – Antonio Alonso Marcos – sent an open letter to Amenabar, also known for his pro-euthanasia film The Sea Inside, denouncing the film’s anti-Christian bias.
The reason for my letter is to make you realize something that you already know but have dismissed as unimportant: your film is going to awaken hatred against Christians in today’s society. You present a biased view of the relationship between science and the Church, between faith and reason â€¦
Marcos reminded Amenabar of comments made by people who had seen a private screening of the film. At the end of the film, people sitting near Amenabar were heard to say:
Christians are a bunch of sons of bitches.
Marcos continued in his letter:
Amenabar insists that the film:
This has been and will be the reaction of the public in general, and you know it. Is that what you were looking for? To throw manure on an institution that today helps millions of human beings to live and enjoy life to the fullest.
Is not against Christians but rather against those who set off bombs and kill in the name of God, that is, against religious fanatics.
Marcos then questioned why the director had not recreated situations like those that take place in the Middle East.
The second film, The Evangelist, premieres on the internet next month, and tells the story of Gideon Bellamont (played by Lucas Fox Philips), a flaxen-haired, 12-year-old fanatic who is determined to convert liberal Provincetown, Massachusetts, to his fire-and-brimstone brand of Christianity. When his efforts fail, the young zealot devises increasingly radical schemes to win over converts – to the point where killing in the name of God is not out of the question.
The result is a darkly comic fable and allegorical critique on the excesses of fundamentalism.
See the trailer here:
Hat tip: William Harwood and Kathy Adams