Sunday, February 05, 2006

Death at the Movies

In the last two evenings I've watched some old films, both dealt with death in some manner and each in a different manner, though neither in a Biblical manner. It's interesting that death has become so humorous in America. We are almost calloused to it. So the story of one particular woman from a few years ago stated that she hoped to be cremated and placed inside here Tazmanian Devil cookie jar. After being placed in this jar she would rest next to her mother whose ashes were contained in a Bugs Bunny cookie jar. To her death was her last chance to have fun.

In the two movies I watched this weekend, both well done films, death is portrayed not so much as funny, but as something only slightly better than funny. In Chances Are Robert Downy Jr. plays Alex Finch, a young Yale graduate struggling to get a job at the Washington Post. But after meeting and "falling" for Miranda Jeffries and joining her at the home of her mother Alex begins to remember a past life- former husband to Corine Jeffries and father to Miranda. Of course this discovery makes for a quite humorous story, with plenty of bizarre happenings. In this film the worldview or philosophy is that of New Age Spirituality. Louie Jeffries is reincarnated into the body of Alex Finch and, we are told, that the circle will continue once Alex dies. He too will be reincarnted.

This particular worldview suggests that after death the spirit goes enters into a higher state of conciousness and is reincarnated and returned to the earth as another person or thing. This is the message that Alex himself gives to Miranda after the near fatal collapse of one woman. So death in this film is not absolute or final and there is certainly no judgment to face, only a new life and a fresh start.

In the other film I saw this weekend Brad Pitt plays Joe Black. Joe Black is an alias for the true name of Pitt's character, however, which is "Death". Based on the original film "Death Takes a Holiday" (1934), the story revolves around media tycoon Bill Parish who acts as a tour guide for death, who decides he wants to learn about life, in exchange for a few more days with his family. The message of this film, concerning death, is really rather interesting. Death is seen as somewhat scary at times, but overall, it is a charming and if not comforting friend. For Bill Parish it is the end to a beautiful life with "no regrets". It is a marvelous film that has a manner of captivating its audience. The acting, the story, and even the mood music are stellar. Even in its older age as a film it stands as a wonderful piece of work- yet its conception of death is somewhat distorted.

Death is not a friend, that much is can be certain. In fact death is not even an unfortunate part of life, it is a result of the curse of sin. Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden and for their rebellion against God death was brought into existence. Now for the Christian who has repented of their sins and confessed Jesus as their Savior from just punishment for sin death is the gateway to eternal life in the joyful presence of God. So in some sense death may be a delight for the Christian. But for the non-Christian this is not the case. The end of this life for those who continue in rebellion against God is only hell and punishment- and in that respect no amount of wishing thinking about Joe Black will be any comfort.

Movies tell us alot about what the modern public thinks. Death is, to be sure, not something many of us like to think about, and so we don't- but these movies reflect a sort of hope in the afterlife that is not only confused but wrong. O, if Christians would love their neighbors enough to tell them about hell- to warn them about it! Trust me friends, you can't rely on holywood to speak the truth about the afterlife, it is our duty!


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