Thursday, January 19, 2012

Religion Bashing Films (Part I)


Along with politics, religion is without a doubt one of the most powerful divisive forces in all of humanity. Religion and politics are such touchy subjects that talking about them in the workplace is forbidden. Teachers in secular schools are not supposed to talk about the subject to their students. People have killed, and continue killing to this day because another doesn’t have their same religious beliefs; Catholicism, I’m looking at you kid! Truth is everyone has a different idea about what religion to follow, and everyone believes they are right. Problem is that what we end up believing in is sometimes determined by trivial things like what our parents believe in, or what country we happened to be born in. Think about it! What if you’d been born in India, you think you'd believe in Jesus? No, you’d believe in Elephant Gods with four hands! So many gods to choose from, so little time. Which one to believe in? Should you believe in any of them? Why exactly are their so many Gods in the world? If you ask me, the simple fact that there are so many of them let’s you know that there is no real one. That all these gods have been made up by man to fill that void, that void of not knowing, but that's just my opinion, take it for what it's worth. 

  
Personally, I don’t subscribe to any religious dogma because I believe  that no one on this planet truly knows anything. No one knows where humans truly came from, no one knows how we got started. No one knows how the universe came to be, religions offer answers to these questions, problem is the answers are all made up. All these questions -the big questions as they are often called- are just one gigantic mystery. THE big mystery, which is what keeps life interesting. To quote the character of Trinity from The Matrix (1999): “It’s the question that drives us Neo”.  I believe religions are a bunch of fairy tales designed to give us perfectly packaged answers to some of life’s most unanswerable questions. Religion is a way of soothing your psyche if you can’t take the idea that we really don’t know where humanity came from, or what truly happens after we die. But that’s my take on life, we each believe in what we want to believe. Ultimately, if you’re happy believing in throne rooms in the sky, then far be it from me to stop your happiness!


But me? I happen to think religion is nothing but an emotional and psychological crutch, designed to bring us some sort of emotional support, after all, life has a way of bringing us down at times. Religion gives us a fake comfort. It makes us think some magical guy up there gives a damn about us. That some guardian angel is watching over us and will make everything alright. My answer to that is: Why not teach people to believe in themselves? To get things done because they will it? Why not teach people that they can achieve anything they want to achieve, if they put their mind to it? You want to make your life better? Stop believing that an invisible old man in the sky is going to fix everything for you and take matters into your own hands! Live your life! Make your choices! Do your thing! You might make a couple of mistakes along the way, but that’s life. It’s a learning process. It’s a game we have to learn to play as we go along. Why live it ridden by lies and guilt? I say, wake up from the slumber! Disconnect yourself from The Matrix and live in the real world! And so, here I offer you guys 15 Religion Bashing Films, these are a group of films and documentaries that expose religions many flaws and show it for what it is: a big confusing mess that should be left behind. So without further ado I leave you guys with 15 Religion Bashing Films! And don’t forget, this is only part one of this article, for part 2 go here!


Title: Religulous (2008)

Synopsis: On this one comedian Bill Maher goes from religion to religion, from parishioner to parishioner questioning their beliefs, trying to figure out what makes them tick. Many people don’t like this film because it takes a funny route, but in all honesty I think it was great that Maher infused a bit of comedy into the whole thing, after all, religion is one touchy subject. There are some truly hilarious moments on this documentary. I find it funny that almost every one of these religious places he visits has their own little army that ends up kicking Maher out. Some religious institutions don’t even want to be confronted with the questions that Maher’s has for them, so they don’t even bother opening the doors to the filmmakers: Vatican, I’m looking at you kid! Either way, there is no denying that Maher asks some very interesting questions that will more than likely make you think. This documentary is a real eye opener as far as exposing some of the silly beliefs that some religions have…like the Mormons having to wear special underwear (sold at their church) so they can have sex? What. The. Hell!

Religion Bashing Quote:  “Rational people, anti-religionists must end their timidity and come out of the closet and assert themselves. And those who consider them only moderately religious need to look themselves in the mirror and realize that the solace and comfort that religion brings you actually comes at a terrible price”


Title: There Will Be Blood (2007)

Synopsis: This film speaks about two great evils devouring our world today: greed and religion. But the real main objective in this film is to unmask religion, to show that it’s all a façade, that religious leaders are fooling the people and using them to their benefit. This is a film that pits the realist vs. the superstitious individual. Daniel Plainview is a realist; all he cares about is business, making money, being successful and not letting anyone get in his way. His god is the dollar bill. He is not a wholesome individual because greed proves to be his downfall as well. But the other great evil in the film is the religious leader, Eli Sunday. He paints himself as a holy man leading his people down a god fearing path, yet in reality all he cares about is power and money, same as Daniel Plainview, only Plainview is honest about what he wants. The preacher in There Will Be Blood even goes as far as denying god in order to get a deal made! There are some really shocking moments on this film, and I have to say its one of the strongest anti-religious films out there. It’s no surprise coming from a director like Paul Thomas Anderson, who is currently attempting to unmask Scientology with his next film.

Religion Bashing Quote: “I’d like for you to tell me that you are and have always been a false prophet and that God is a superstition”


Title: Golden Compass (2007)

Synopsis: The Golden Compass was an interesting film because it received so much heat upon its release. Basically, the movie presents us with the idea that we can live in a world without religion, an idea that I personally agree wholeheartedly with. Do we really need to believe in fairies and godfathers? Especially when there is no way to prove their existence? Why not live in a more realistic world, where we admit we simply don’t have all the answers to everything? These ideas and themes where targeted by the Catholic Church (and many other Christian religions) and basically marked the film as  the antichrist because it was teaching children ideas about “killing God”. Truth be told, the book is way more open with its anti-religious ideas than the movie ever was. The film went with using euphemisms for religion. The film chose not to mention religion directly for fear of loosing box office tickets; yet this didn’t stop the film from making kajillions, it made its money back. Strangest thing about this film is that in the U.S. it only made 70 million, while the rest of the world embraced it and brought the final box office receipts to well over 300 million dollars. The fact that this film made more money in foreign countries than U.S., speaks volumes about how the rest of the world sees the idea of living in a religion less world. Still, I’m thinking it would have made a whole lot more money without the Vatican warning all its followers not to watch it. I guess having a film that gives its back to faith and teaches us to believe in ourselves rather than imaginary beings is too much for society.

Religion Bashing Quote: “In my world, scholars invented an elithiometer, a golden compass that showed them all that was hidden; but the ruling power, fearing any truth but their own decided to destroy these devices and forbade the very mention of dust. One compass remains however, and only one who can read it ”


Title: The Wicker Man (1973)

Synopsis: The Wicker Man is a film that helped me understand that sometimes your belief system depends on where you are born. Had you been born in India, maybe you’d be worshipping Shiva or Kahli and not Jesus. The people of Summer Isle were born into a society that worships the Sun as their God and once a year they must sacrifice! Another thing this movie taught me is, any whacko can come up and say that a sacrifice must be made to some God because he says so, and somebody is going to say “sure!” and follow, no matter how crazy the idea. The idea of how easy it is to get the masses to believe in something, no matter how insane it is. This is also a film that shows a Christian asking to his god for help, and apparently, his pleas fall on depth ears! Why isnt god helping his loyal servent from certain death? Could it be because there’s nobody there? The Wicker Man is a film that is a bit unorthodox, and definitely “weird” but man, when it all hits you in the end, its soooo worth it! Called by many as the “Citizen Kane of Horror Movies” this is definitely a must watch for any true horror fan. Don’t bother with the laughable remake though, it’s a stinker.

Religion Bashing Quote: “Don’t you see that killing me isn’t going to bring back your apples?”


Title: The Name of the Rose (1986)

Synopsis: This film was so interesting; I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. I tells the story of two monks, one young (Christian Slater) and one old (Sean Connery) who are sent to an old monastery up in the mountains, their mission is to investigate a series of mysterious murders that have occured. For some reason that nobody appears to understand, someone is murdering monks! The film plays out like a Sherlock Holmes film, with Slater playing Watson to Connery’s Sherlock Holmes. A hint that this is what filmmakers were going for is that Connery’s character is called William of Baskersville. This film speaks volumes about the tension between trying to live up to the expectations and requirements of being a man of the cloth, and being a flesh and bone man, with lust and desires. Also, it speaks about the one thing that many would like to hide from “the people” and that my friends is knowledge. This films ultimate message is that knowledge shall set us free! In the Name of the Rose is a very symbolic film that comments on religion on so many levels! It speaks of collective fear, and how it can make us see things that aren’t there. But most important of all it shows us the importance of educating ourselves as to how things really are in this world. One awesome scene has Slater and Connery lost in a gigantic labyrinthine library! Literally getting lost trying to find the truth, same way we should all struggle to find it!.    

Religion Bashing Quote: “The only evidence I see of the Antichrist here is everyone’s desire to see him at work”


Title: Jonestown: The Life and Death of the Peoples Temple (2006)

Synopsis: This documentary is a truly heartbreaking experience. You look at it and you wont believe it happened. It expertly explains the way Reverend Jim Jones convinced many of his followers not only to sell all their homes and properties and move with him to Guyana, but he also convinced more than 900 of them to commit suicide by drinking Cyanide! This documentary, more than any other film on this list will show you just how powerful the grip of a religious leader can be on the mind of his parishioners. The religious leader says it and it can and probably will be done. It shows how people who finally understand the true nature of religion can abuse its power, and how horrible and dark the consequences can be. It is amazing how much footage, how much video and how many pictures are available of this whole event. It’s as if Jim Jones knew exactly what he was doing and wanted to document it for future generations. Did he want to teach a lesson on how powerful religion can be? Or was he simply thirsting for power? Was he in the end suffering from a God complex? I dare you not to cry while watching this one!

Religion Bashing Quote: “Nobody joins a cult. Nobody joins something they think’s gonna hurt them. You join a religious organization, you join a political movement, and you join with people you really, really like”


Title: Deliver Us From Evil (2006)

Synopsis: One of the ugliest aspects of the Catholic Church is how they ignore the child molestation that goes on within their ranks. It’s really sick when you learn just how many millions they have to spend every year to legally protect all the priests that have sexually abused little kids. On this documentary we meet an old priest named Father Oliver O Grady who abused a bunch of kids when he was a young priest, funny how he is STILL a priest even after the Church knows how many kids he abused! Now that his dick has gone limp, he decides it’s time to ask for forgiveness to all those kids whose lives he messed up. The act of the priest wanting to say “I’m sorry” feels totally insincere; it feels like he is doing it to make himself feel better for all of his past sins. This is a really touching documentary because you actually get to know a lot of the kids that the priest abused of and how their lives have turned out. You meet their parents, and they all tell you their side of the story. This documentary even takes us to the walls of the Vatican, but, same as in Religulous (2008), the Vatican, and all it’s cardinals and priests never answer. Where’s the pope when you need him? Funny how the church simply turns a blind eye to these victims, to the people that their own priests sexually abused off when they were children. Where is the compassion and understanding that the bible speaks of? Where is the righteousness? Where is the caring?   

Religion Bashing Quote: (Said by one of the victims) “I made up my mind. There is no God. I do not believe in God, all right? All these rules, everything….they’re made up by man you know?”


Title: The Meaning of Life (1983)

Synopsis: The Monty Python guys have never been ones to shy away from bashing on religion, I mean, they’d already done it in Life of Brian, a 100% politics and religion bashing film every step of the way. On Meaning of Life, the Python guys criticize and make fun of everything from Catholicism’s rules about NOT using condoms, to the idea of a magical guy up there in heaven watching over us. Hell, God is the only character that appears in all three Monty Python films! These guys are definitely concerned with the idea of God. And they do get quite philosophical at times. But in all honesty, the film really makes fun of life itself; they make parodies of everything on this movie! Even of the moment when we are born, all the way down to when we die, and even what happens after that. This is an all encompassing film in terms of themes, but they do reserve a huge chunk of their time on the silliness of the church and religious tradition.

Religion Bashing Quote: “Look at them. Bloody Catholics, filling the bloody world up with bloody people they cant bloody feed”


Title: Life of Brian (1979)

Synopsis: This is the ultimate comment on religion by the Monty Python guys. Not surprisingly, the film also comments heavily on politics and government, and that makes perfect sense to me since religion and politics go hand in hand. This one is a bit different than Meaning of Life because it is almost entirely about religion as opposed to Meaning of Life which comments on everything. On Life of Brian we follow Brian, a character who has been mistaken for Jesus. Suddenly, people decide to follow him around and live by every word that he says, but Brian wants none of it. Brian just wants to be Brian, he doesn’t want zombie zealots following him around, repeating everything he says like some mantra! This film is considered by many to be one of the best comedies of all time, and one of the most important ones, I think that the importance that is given to this film comes from the fact that it lambasts the idea of religion so powerfully.

Religion Bashing Quote: “Look! You got it all wrong! You don’t need to follow me! You don’t need to follow anybody! You’ve got to think for yourselves! You’re all individuals!”


Title: Jesus Camp (2006)

Synopsis: Jesus Camp is all about a group of kids who attend a summer camp that will help them “cleanse their souls” and become good preachers. This one feels like a horror film, when you watch it, you wont believe your eyes and ears. It really goes deep into the heart of the Evangelical way of teaching their kids the ways of the bible. Basically, they torture them psychologically, make them feel guilty for their ‘sins’ (these are kids for christs sake!) and hammer ideas into their heads about hating things like Harry Potter. Man, it’s really sad to see these kids crying their hearts out because they feel like sinners. And it is frightening to see the adults who do it to them. Saddest part of the whole affair is that this summer camp had been doing this for years and years before this documentary came along! After the documentary they had to close down shop because of all the hate they got from everyone in the world. This one is a real eye opener not only about religion and how it can wipe your mind clean, but also about the way that the government takes advantages of Christian churches to promote their political agendas and make their parishioners vote for certain candidates. These people actually believed that BUSH was chosen by god to lead the nation! Strangest part is that the events captured by these documentarians unfolded naturally before the lenses of their cameras, these are Evangelical Christians just doing and acting the way they do every day. And it is truly frightening. This documentary will make you feel sick to the stomach with religion and politics. In other words, it has the highest possible recommendation from me. 

Religion Bashing Quote: (Spoken by Becky Fisher, the woman who ran the Evangelical Summer Camp) “I can go into a playground of kids that don’t know anything about Christianity, lead them to the Lord in a matter of, just no time at all and just moments later they will be seeing visions and hearing the voice of God, because they are so open. They are so usable in Christianity”


Title: Conan The Barbarian (1982)

Synopsis: This is my favorite of all the religion bashing movies because it’s also a great fantasy film. But at it’s core, this is a film hitting brutally on the dangers of fanatism and cults. In the film we are presented with a group of religious folk who are spreading across the land…they worship snakes as if they were gods. They put up their snake worshipping temples across the land, brainwashing people into becoming their acolytes. They have been so successful with their cult, that even the daughter of a king has escaped her father and is now a fervent acolyte of the snake worshippers. Conan is offered the opportunity to rescue the Kings daughter, which is really a sweet deal because at the same time Conan will exact revenge upon the leader of this cult, for he was the one responsible for killing Conan’s parents as well! This film is so well written, it really goes into what religion is all about. The brainwashing; the blind devotion. One scene has the religious leader of the cult (called Thulsa Doom) tell one of his female followers to jump into the void, which she immediately does, sacrificing herself simply because her religious leader told her so. Conan The Barbarian really makes an effort to show how powerful a grip a religious leader has over the minds of his followers. I like how Conan isnt portrayed as a godless man, he actually believes in his god CROM, and talks to him asking him for help, but Conan says to Crom “I never pray to you, but I know you like valor. So grant me REVENGE! And if you don’t help me, than SCREW YOU!” I love it, he doesn’t deny god, but if his god doesn’t help him, he’ll do it on his own. I like that idea, that mentality that you don’t have to rely on Gods to do things for you, what matters is that you do things for yourself, through your own will. You know how in normal movies, the good guy saves the day and gets the girl? By the time you are done with this Conan movie he will have infiltrated the cult, killed a couple of their snakes, burned down their temple and chopped off of the head of Thulsa Doom, the religious leader. Anti-religious in deed.

Religion Bashing Quote: “To the hell fires with Thulsa Doom! He’s evil, a sorcerer who can summon demons. His followers’ only purpose is to die in his service; thousands of them.”


Title: Martyrs (2008)

Synopsis: Out of all the films on this list, this is the one most likely to shock the hell out of you. This amazing film comes to us from French filmmaker Pascal Laugier, the director behind the direct to video horror film House of Voices (2004). On this one we meet a girl who actually manages to escape the clutches of an evil cult hell bent no discovering the secrets of the afterlife. This is a very graphic film, make no doubts about it, you will see lots of gore, lots of blood. But it’s also a very symbolic film about the results of becoming a prisoner to a bunch of religious fanatics. This film really focuses on how once you are inside of a belief system, you are fed lies, you are promised paradise, you are even promised the secrets of the universe, but in the end, all you are left with is a negatively affected life with emotional scars that will last a lifetime. It also speaks about how religions simply take advantage of the suffering in our lives, the suffering that ‘the system’ puts most people through in order to make you one of them. It speaks of how after a while of hearing about angels and demons, you’re mind will make start seeing and hearing them, even if they are not there. Highly recommend this one!

Religion Bashing Quote: “It’s so easy to create a victim young lady, so easy. You lock someone in a dark room, they begin to suffer; you feed that suffering. Methodically, systematically and coldly. And make it last. Your subject goes through a number of states. After a while, their trauma, that small, easily opened crack makes them see things that don’t exist”


Title: Bad Dreams (1988)

Synopsis: Bad Dreams tells the story of Cynthia, a young woman who’s spent most of her life sleeping in a comma. You see Cynthia was the only survivor of a religious group called ‘Unity’, a group that commited mass suicide 13 years ago. They all burned themselves down because their religious leader told them so! And Cynthia was the only survivor of that ordeal. Now she’s awakened, and she’s in psychological therapy, trying to deal with the whole mess. Unfortunately, Harris, the religious leader, keeps visiting her in her dreams! And not only that, apparently he can also kill people from the great beyond! The thing about this movie is that it’s a great premise, but it feels just a little bit too much like A Nightmare on Elm Street, so much so that the actress who plays Cynthia (Jennifer Rubin) actually starred in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors (1987) where she played the role of Taryn, the girl who loves to be “beautiful….and BAD!” This film also stars Bruce Abbott of Re-Animator fame, and Richard Lynch playing Harris, the crazy religious leader. Watching Harris playing the crazy religious leader is one of the best things about this one. The film explores the hive like mentality that permeates religion and it analyzes how difficult it can be to deprogram yourself from the ideas implanted in our brains by religion.    


Title: Silent Hill (2006)

Synopsis: This one is interesting because like Martyrs and Bad Dreams it analyzes how religion can scar us, and the psychological scars can last a life time. On this film, a little girl has gone missing. She’s apparently lost somewhere within the bowls of the spooky little town called Silent Hill. Her mother, a woman called Rose, decides to go into the spooky town to find her daughter….but why do things in this town keep changing? Soon, the mother discovers that there is a strange cult in this town, and that they all think they got god on their side! But do they? The film analyzes the idea of how every Christian religion believes that God is on their particular side. That He favors their Christian beliefs over the other Christian church across the street. It also speaks about the horrors committed in the name of religion, like sacrifices. And it also explores the psychological implications of always feeling guilty because of a little thing called ‘sin’. Why are religious leaders so hell bent on making their parishioners feel guilty? And what happens when one of the scarred decides to fight back and get revenge for all the damage that was done to her? You don’t want to miss this films grand finale, it’s a gory show stopper.   

Religion Bashing Quote: “When you’re hurt and scared for so long, the fear and pain turn to hate and the hate starts to change the world”


Title: Saved! (2004)

Synopsis: Mary  is a Christian girl living in a Christian town where everything and everyone is “Jesus-centric”, meaning that everything revolves around Jesus. The go to Christian school and listen to Christian music. Everything seems squeaky clean and perfect in the beginning. But problems start when Mary tries to cure her boyfriend of his gayness by having sex with him. She rationalizes having sex with him before marriage, she thinks it’s her mission from God to cure her boyfriend of his homosexuality. The real problem starts when she becomes pregnant with a baby from her gay boyfriend! Aha! I love this movie because it really shows what it is to live amidst a Christian society. How everyone is mentioning Jesus every five seconds and always seem to be happy, almost to the point where its fake. You know, that fake happiness? The film also speaks about how Christianity can make you negate your instinctive human desires and emotions. How some Christians are complete and utter hypocrites, preaching one thing but really feeling and doing another. I love how the film speaks about the Christians obsession with trying to be perfect, which is really an impossibility in this life. We all make mistakes and learn from them, this is how life goes. But Christians try to walk this perfect path, and this film shows that life has a way of showing us that things aren’t all that predictable, that life isnt squeaky clean perfect and that shit can hit the fan no matter who many times you went to church that week.

Religion Bashing Quote: “So everything that doesn’t fit into some stupid idea of what you think God wants, you just try to hide, or fix or get rid of? It’s all just too much to live up to. No one fits in one hundred percent of the time, not even you. ”

If you enjoyed this article dont forget to check out the sequel: Religion Bashing Films Part II


16 comments:

Jack Thursby said...

Really interesting article. I've only seen about half the films on this list - good mix. I like that you included Conan. Milius and Stone were definitely targeting organized religion with that. I love the shot at the end with all the cult followers extinguishing their torches in the water and walking away.

The Film Connoisseur said...

Yeah, that final scene exposes the films themes quite clearly. Right before Conan chops his head off, Thulsa Doom tries hypnotizing him first, a clear comment on how religious leaders can lure people into their ideas. Thulsa Doom even declares himself Conan's father, which reveals (as many of these films do) what many religious leaders suffer from: 'The God Complex'.

Without the leader, the followers simply fade away, so symbolic!

Thanks for commenting Jack!

Jen said...

Thank you for this really great article. I am looking forward to part 2. Reading this I realized that many of these films are my favorites, from Martyrs to The Meaning of Life. I have to see Saved and Jesus Camp. The latter seems like it will be very scary!

The Film Connoisseur said...

Jesus Camp is scary in a very real way, it's also very sad to see these kids being brainwashed and manipulated emotionally psychologically.

Highly recommend Saved! it is a very underrated film! Very underrated!

Thanks for commenting Jen, Im putting the finishing touches on part 2! Expect it next monday.

SonOfCelluloid said...

Jesus Camp is indeed terrifying. I'm a preachers kid and grew up in a family of traveling evangelists. I went to similar camps on many occasions. I began to realize that a lot of what was going on was just old school brainwashing techniques, and watching that flick was quite a powerful experience for me. I guess it would be like someone who survived a plane crash watching footage of a similar plane crashing. I loved Saved too, the skewering of religious youth culture was SPOT ON. I hope The Mist will be in part 2.

Direct to Video Connoisseur said...

This is a great list, and I can't wait to see what's on part 2. Of the ones I've seen, I think Religioulous really stood out for me. I watched that with my buddy and his wife, and his wife is kind of religious (Catholic). While we were enjoying ourselves, she was a little uncomfortable, and I think it was that we were enjoying ourselves that made it worse for her, that we were identifying so much with what he was saying.

Matthew Coniam said...

I'm an atheist, but when you wrote "people have killed, and continue killing to this day because another doesn’t have their same religious beliefs" was Catholicism really the first religion that came into your head?

The Film Connoisseur said...

@Son of Celluloid: Interesting to hear your story man! I personally lived through a similar one, my family was extremely religious, and the same thing happened to me, I simply wasnt agreeing with anything they were teaching anymore, so I started my research on religion, and it's origins. College helped a lot too, when I started to read all these old philosophers...it helped me to realize that there are so many ways of seeing life...and boxing myself in one way of seeing things didn't seem realistic anymore. The world was far too complex and diverse to see things one way.

I hear ya about Jesus Camp, the samething happened to me! I was even more devastated though by Jonestown: Life and Death of the Peoples Temple....such a detailed account of what happened, so sad to see so many lives, taken by a mad man! Highly recommend searching that documentary out man, it is by far the most shocking testament to how out of control and downright evil religion can become.

The Mist IS on part two, along with many more films and documentaries, come back later today, it should be posted at some point.

Thanks for sharing your story!

@Direct to Video Connoisseur: Oh yeah, I got the same reactions while watching it with some of my friends, most of us where digging it while others found it offensive, and said it shouldnt have been as funny. Me? I think the funny is what makes it even more watchable. Religion and some of it's silliness can be hilarious on it's own anyways, without Mahers hilarious attitude. I mean, how's about that dude who had a religion that revolved around weed facilitating his connection with God? Ha! Hilarious!

@Matthew Coniam: Well yeah, I combined The Inquisition with the "Holy" Crusades, and voila! Catholicism was the first one to pop to mind. There's others to be sure. Islam is a close second for sure! The way they mix religion with politics (Islam does it in a more direct way than Christianity) is one potent/violent/deadly mix!

Thanks for commenting everyone!

venoms5 said...

I'm not religious in any way, but do understand that there are a good many weak minded people who need that extra something to get them through rough times. For this purpose--to make ones life better--I think religion is a good thing.

Sadly, both politics and religion are dangerous topics that are twisted and mutated into subjects that often bring about violent consequences. Both have great potential for good, but far too often get lost in the muck of personal ambition, greed and a good amount of jealousy that sometimes leads to violence and death.

It's important for us all to think for ourselves, even for those of faith. But it's how we apply this knowledge that counts. It's a shame, though, that some questionably off kilter individuals can easily brainwash the impressionable turning something that should be beautiful and make it into something noticeably profane.

I really enjoyed this article, Fran. Good job, my friend!

The Film Connoisseur said...

Venom: Well rounded comment Brian, you made a great assesment of how we all should think when it comes to religion. It can be a positive thing, when used in the right way, when not, it can be disastrous. Glad you enjoyed the articles my friend!

Andyman409 said...

very entertaining stuff. It's a shame that so many filmakers these days will say "I dont agree with religion, but I still believe in God".

I think akira could be considered an atheist film, with the idea that man can transcend his current limitations and acheive Godhood, and that every human is born with that potential... but its just speculation.

The Film Connoisseur said...

Interesting take on Akira! I always saw it as a story about the abuse of power, but I see your point of view, he does reach God hood...and there is a part of the film where the characters get extremely existential. I will be rewatching AKIRA and reviewing it soon!

When filmmakers address the issue of the existense of God in films, they have to play it safe. Producers get nervous about making films like these because it's such a touchy subject. A film can and probably will get boycotted by christians if the film sends out an anti-religious or atheist message.

This is probably why most of the films that do adress this subject manner are extremely low budget affairs. I think the most expensive anti-religious film ever made was The Golden Compass, and that one went under fire as soon as it was released. It got a lot of heat from christian groups.

On a positive note The Golden Compass did manage to make its money back, so I guess theres a lot of people out there who arent religious after all, which is a positive thing in my book.

Andyman409 said...

Agreed. I remember when I attended film school, the topic of religion in film never popped up. Humorously enough, a few students openly admitted to being young earth creationists and intelligent design advocates. Felt kinda unfair

BTW, I always found it curious that Akira featured a cult that worshipped a dead God... sort of Nietzschean if you ask me :)

The Film Connoisseur said...

Absolutely right about the cult thing in AKIRA, I remember them walking around the city in a procession of sorts, worshipping their God in the middle of all the chaos, as if an invisible being they've never seen or heard was going to help them.

I guess that was part of showing the confussion in society, the chaotic downward spiral that humanity can and has traveled through at various points in our history.

It never stops amazing me, but religion actually adds a whole other level of insanity to any given situation, especially when it concerns the masses.

Funny you should mention filmschool, Im gearing up to go soon! I'm really looking forward to the experience! Filmschool probably functions the same way that studios function: religion is a moot subject. Producers just dont like to risk loosing audience members, which is understandable when we take in consideration just how expensive films can be.

But I'm a fan of those films that do venture out into this often times uncharted theme. Those are the brave and the few! I recently saw one that blew me away, it's calld "Higher Ground"; it stars Vera Fermiga, who by the way, also directed the film! Highly recommend it, it explores religion, and that time that sometimes comes in peoples lives when they question their beliefs.

Andyman409 said...

Religion certainly is a fascinating subject. After I finished film school, I started reading up on it 24/7. Now I'm trying to go to university so I can study it for a living

Oh yeah, just to clarify- I didn't change career goals bacause I hated film school or anything. It's fun as hell. So long as the program doesn't have too many film theory courses. Dunno why, but I always found film theory classes like high school english classes, where it was more about telling the teacher what they wanted to hear than what you actually thought.

Oh yeah, speaking of unpopular films on religion, there's one based off a cormac mccarthy book. Dont remember it's name, but it had samual L Jackson and Tommy lee Jones. Wansn't as good as the ones on this list tho

BTW, better do a post on "The Master" when it comes out. Definatley will be a good addition to the list.

The Film Connoisseur said...

Oh yeah, I cant wait to see Anderson's "The Master", if PT Andersons other films are any indication, we should be in for a powerful film. Again, Anderson's been having production woes to make this one, I'm sure a lot of that has to do with the fact that it criticizes religion, I hear it indirectly comments on Scientology, which is one of the best examples of how anyone can make anything up and surely enough, if you know how to do it, you'll end up with a bunch of zombies believing every word you say. I mean, how crazy are the beliefs of scientologists? Too crazy thats what!

But I applaud Anderson for doing his film none the less, and fearlessly! I love it when a good director decides to comment on meaningful themes such as he did with There Will Be Blood.

I truly loved that one because it aimed its guns at two of the greatest evils on this planet: GREED and RELIGION.

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