Monday, July 10, 2006

"Pirates," Redemption, and Culture

I just checked my Google News and found that "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," has taken in $135.6 million, which is the highest gross of any film on its first weekend. I saw the film on Friday with a packed house in Incline Village, Nevada. It was certainly entertaining, and visually overwhelming, though not--I'm quick to add--as good as the first installment of "Pirates." The latter movie was a serendipity. I've pondered the themes of Pirates II to discern any deeper meaning, and redemption looms large, whether it's for cruel Davy Jones, or the generally upright Will Turner, or even the mischievous Captain Jack Sparrow. All these characters bear chains of one sort or another from which they want freedom so that they can live. And significantly, this one of the core theological images for the critical experience of the Christian life--that we're in a bind without hope or release, unless someone else intervenes. So maybe the U.S. senses this deep need.... Or maybe they just like the visual effects of Pirates II.... At this point, it's not easy for me to decide between the two options.

(Incidentally, I've extended these reflections through a post on the Thoughtful Christian blog:


john said...

...and remember the Brady Bunch where Greg loses Mr. Brady's important architectural drawings, but everything works out in the end? A real gospel moment!

Seriously sometimes I think it is too easy to read the "gospel imprint" that dwells within each one of us into any piece of popular culture.

I will never forget a discussion I had with a friend about the movie "Ground Hog Day". (Great movie, by the way.) She saw a very clear gospel message, while I felt there was a strong reincarnation parallel, with each new day representating Bill Murray's next life.

Certainly, humans are storytellers. And our stories will reflect our God-sized vacuum. But sometimes blockbuster entertainment is just blockbuster entertainment!

GCootsona said...

Our church has done a "Christ goes to the movies" series a few times, and one scary thing is how surprising it is for preachers (including me) to find the Gospel in almost anything cinematic. Nevertheless, popular culture does often express subterranean longings. So I keep listening.

john said...

and i think subterranean longings are valid.

classic example: "use the force, luke." people love feeling like there is a greater power than themselves, and that they can somehow tap into it.

i wish we did movie series. "the first rule of movie club is you don't talk about movie club."