December 22, 2011
interesting take. Â thank you.
True nihilism is, by definition, anti-drama. Creation and fall are the same thing. Things just are, whatever they are. There is no "ought to be," so dramatic conflict is an illusion. Meek's Cutoff was more nihilistic in that sense.Â I actually found GWDT to be quite optimistic. It starts as a study of broken people, abused by the powerful and the world in general. It dares it's middle class audience to witness how broken they are.Â That's really the heart of the piece, I think.Â For the most part, the European films did a good job of developing these protagonists as real people (theÂ villainsÂ a little less so). The real dramatic question is can people so abused and twisted still be full people?Â The central procedural doesn't get traction for about 2/3 of the film, and is about as compelling as an episode of CSI. But the theme is always about justice. Will the downtrodden get justice? Will the evil oppressors get a dose of their own medicine?
There is a glimmer of what you're getting at in the Fincher film, Steven. Salander is by far the most intriguing character, and there are moments when you think the movie will pursue the real question of how she responds to abuse and horror, and why. Ultimately, though, the movie is less interested in that sort of interior, intricate drama and more interested in a facile, revenge-flick sense of justice.
Don't get me wrong, as difficult as this film is to watch, it is still an excellent movie. But not dark enough? Did you want "A Serbian Film" or the "The Human Centipede? Prior to watching this movie? (Disclaimer: I have scene neither of the 2 movies mentioned, I have only heared, and read, about how disturbing they are and recommend them to NO ONE. Dragon Tattoo, however, proceed with caution).
Hi Andy,I think what you're talking about when you bring up films such as The Human Centipede is explicitness, which is something different than thematic darkness. Fincher's "Dragon Tattoo" doesn't need any more gory details (visually or in the dialogue). What is missing is an honest grappling with its antisocial and nihilistic implications. Such ideas aren't really explored here; they're reduced to attitude and art design.Josh
Josh I'm having a hard time grasping what you are getting at but I haven't seen this movie and probably won't. However I have read the full plot summary (why I'm skipping the viewing).Â Could you expand on what you think is missing that is needed to make it "darker" but not more explicit? This is a fine line for a lot of authors. Are you saying you think crime movies and novels need to show the villains as clearly defined and recognizable "evil" and set apart from happily functioning society or is there something else?Â The emerging Postmodern Gothic genre seems to be going a different direction embracing some Nihilism but also a self-aware realism of unrequited justice. The ending for this movie (from what I've read) slides back into the old "Modern" justice wrap up with only a small twist toward postmodern angst. (trying to avoid spoilers) Is that a fair interpretation?I think the Psychological development of the Salander character is probably a little weak and poorly explored given the strong male dominance in the writing and production of this project and the subject matter. Keanu Reeves as the Hacker would have just hacked the Financial Guy's computer. :) The first time. KWIM?Thanks
Actually, "villains as clearly defined and recognizable 'evil'" is exactly what I don't want. Morality plays like that are often dull and simplistic. Dragon Tattoo touches on some far more complicated things - the antisocial behavior of its "heroine;" an overall sense of nihilism - but only on a surface level. The movie has the same degree of interest in those elements as it does in Salander's various piercings (maybe less interest).
Interesting thoughts Josh. Another side of this darkness is how the movie leaves things. I know this current version differs from the Swedish version (and I haven't read the books), but it seemed that the final moments were almost written so that people would leave the theater still unsettled. In that regard, the lack of resolution, nihilism is especially maintained.
I love film, the history of film and the craft of film. But I have a low tolerance for exploring the dark side of humanity. We have touched on some of these points before in your previous review of Borat. But I just canâ€™t get around Paulâ€™s admonition in Ephesians, â€œIt is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them.â€ Â and, â€œFinally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirableâ€”if anything is excellent or praiseworthyâ€”think about such things.â€ You have a point of view informed by your theology. How do you square Paulâ€™s admonitions with your desire for more darkness in this film? I am with Mara, I probably wonâ€™t be seeing this film. I am honestly curious about your tolerance for displays of evil in film, because I know you have a reasoned theology in this regard. Thanks Josh, I enjoy most of your reviews.
It's actually pretty simple, Rick, and relates to all the topics Think Christian covers: we believe all of culture falls beneath God's sovereignty, and is therefore worth exploring for what it might help us learn about God, us and our relationship with Him (even the darker, more unpleasant aspects). That's not to say that every Christian needs to engage with movies (or that all movies are worth engaging). But it is to say that no art form - dark or light - is out of bounds for Christians to consider if they feel comfortable doing so.
Thanks Josh. I agree that God is soverign over all. Still it is difficult for me to puzzle this out in scripture...thatâ€™s my difficulty. Â How does that theological principle countermand Paulâ€™s admonitions that it is shameful to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret and instead to meditate on things that are pure, lovely and admirable? Are there certain verses that you would rely on to defend the worthiness of meditating on things that are evil or dark? Or saying that a film needed more darkness? I enjoy most of the Coen brothers films tremendously, but certain of their films, like No Country for Old Men, were just too explicit and dark for me. What is your scriptural aplogetic for handling things like that? I guess I am an old fashioned, chapter and verse kind of guy, my Conservative Baptist roots are showing. Sorry. Iâ€ˆam an artist and spent two years in 2008 and 2009 studying the human figure and taking several classes a week in figure drawing. So Iâ€ˆam not being a knee-jerk prude or cultural Christian and had to work out the theology of that to my satisfaction (I was meditating on Godâ€™s creation, what was pure, lovely and admirable). Just curious about the scriptural defense and I will drop my inquiry at that.
Thanks for your good challenge, Rick. I hold a number of pieces of Scripture in balance to guide my thinking on this, rather than look to a single verse as the final word on the subject. Among them is John 17:14-16: "I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it." Also Romans 12:2: "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what Godâ€™s will isâ€”his good, pleasing and perfect will." Again, I don't see these as commands all Christians must follow, but guidance for those who do feel called to cultural engagement. And I think we will have to leave it at that for now, as we're getting further and further away from the topic at hand: Fincher's Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
About the only time i read anything on "Think Christian" (and personally I think the inverted commas are deserving) is when the headline that appears on my igoogle page challenges me to have a look at what seems to be an anti-Christian thought or deed popping up there. And every time, I think it is just a little journalistic smoke and mirrors to lure me to read the story, only to be greeted, in fact, by a story about the grace and redemption that Jesus brings. Every time I do though, it is unfortunately by the Editor of Think Christian, Josh Larsen, and for the life of me I can never pick up anything but, at best, a worldly, academic and detached Christian view more to do with devilish analysis and diversion than the heart of God. We are all in that boat even as Christians, but Josh please understand your special influence before you post such bizarrely "at odds" views.Either be a film reviewer or a Christian, you cannot serve two masters.I'm removing "Think Christian" from my home page and will have a look again in 6 months. God bless ya Bro.
No, the topic at hand is "thinking Christian"
TGWTDT is not unlike 2 Samuel 13 The Rape of Tamar by Amnon and the subsequent revenge killing by Absolom. Only I think the biblical account is likely superior in my mind in that it explores the consequential psychological issues of committing crimes of lust (love turning to hate and self loathing) and the sad realities of justice and collateral pain in real families.
Yikes Mara. Now that's a "dark" story. Thanks for sharing.
To me, "Thinking Christian" is simply the way a Christian thinks, only God is perfect in his thoughts. A Christian is simply one who has declared Jesus the truth. Â The answer to the debate is simple...motive. God knows our intentions. Â Do we watch a movie as a Christian trying to understand the culture we live in? Or as a way to chase our evil intentions? This is the Cosmic Battle that Paul talks about in Romans. Â That Cosmic Battle is one we all face, and shouldn't be afraid to share with other Christians in any form. Â That is the topic at hand, always, regardless of the cultural item being engaged.
Yes, but a brief story short on details whose point was repentance from sin, revival and restoration to the people of God. Not a remorseless, dark story filled with lengthy gory details, lingering close ups on 30 foot long cinema screens with dolby sound and a dark end. Does this crime in TGWTDT spark a national revival? I would hesitate to use this redemptive story to justify the darkness of TGWTDT.
I was thinking of the rape, killing and dismemberment of the concubine in Judges (which is closer to TGWTDT), which brought about national revival, not Tamar's story. Sorry. The Judges account is a dark story with a redemptive end. Amnon ALSO received a brand of justice. As did Amnonâ€™s killer Absalom. Biblical accounts of the darkness of the soul are meant to bring us to repentance. There is no lingering on violence, no need to pile on darkness, only â€œsave others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fearâ€”hating even the clothing stained by corrupted fleshâ€ as Jude puts it.
Josh,Â Â I saw the film yesterday and think this post is quite spot on. Â Despite the film's intense moments and graphic images, I think you're right that it lacked a "gravitas" or a weight to the darkness of the human conditions portrayed. Â I think it had the potential to be a truly dark portrait of the human condition and the way "normal" people can be the darkest of all (the secrets hidden, etc.). Â But it ended up feeling a bit more like any other hollywood thriller. Â So i think you're right in seeing that potential.As for Salander, I think that we get more explanation of her responses to abuse/horror in the books. Â But even in the movie you see that she displays a morality that is unlike the corporation family. Very interesting. I'm excited to read the books now because she is an intriguing character.
This has to be the lamest reveiw I have ever read. From what it sounds you would want to show this movie at a church gathering and then have a discussion on how it relates to the word of God. Your review is horrible and no one should be watching a movie like this. What's next using Harry Potter book as sunday school books.
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