An Act of True Love

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November 1st, 2013 @ 20:51:56

A couple of days before I went to see Frozen with my parents and twin sister my Dad claimed that the cinemas had been told to bring the temperature of their air conditioning down by a few degrees to pull people in to the icy world Disney had created. We all thought he was joking.

I am SO glad I took a coat and scarf with me. It was a really cold night, that’s the only reason I did it. But turns out it was absolutely Baltic inside theatre screen 11 and none of us took any of our outer garments off the entire time. We should take my Dad at his word more often.

The film itself was marvelous. The researchers had done a lot of hard work (apparently visiting Wyoming, Quebec, Canada and Norway in order to properly understand and portray scenes of a winter nature) and that was evident. The thing that most impressed me was the snow on people’s clothes, especially when Kristoff first walks into the mountain shop.  Visual animators often talk about representing a world so that it’s believable rather than offering a realistic world to the viewer. But that snow was as real as my left thumb. Bravo.

The storyline itself was surprising. I was left wondering whether we would be forced to watch another ‘classic’ love triangle between Anna, Hans and Kristoff. After Twilight and the Hunger Games I feel this has been slightly overdone. Kristoff’s reaction when Anna tells him she is engaged to a man she has only just met is hilarious and broke the love triangle tension a bit – he obviously thought she was an absolute fruit loop.

But when the rock trolls pronounce that the only thing that will save Anna’s life is an act of true love I presumed we were on the one way road to feature film clichés again. As Kristoff ran hell-for-leather on a lake of ice to reach Anna before she froze I couldn’t help but not care. I presumed he would reach her, kiss her, kill Hans and generally save the day. The whole film had been building up to this point and I felt disappointed.

Thank goodness it never happened. Anna chooses to save her sister and sacrifice herself instead of feeling the pleasure of love’s first kiss. She kills herself in order to save another. And this act of true love is what ends up saving her life and saving her sister from bitter destruction as well. Disney portrayed love as an action, instead of a moment on the lips or a well choreographed catchy duet. The audience got their kiss at the end of the film as Kristoff and Anna lived happily ever after. But I left the cinema feeling hopeful that a reflection of true love had been represented pretty well for once.

‘Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends’ John 15:13

On bad films, and films with bad things in…

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I watched a terrible film recently. Truly awful. Even though it had Dominic Cooper, Hattie Morahan and Dan Stevens in, it was irritatingly mind numbing, like a GCSE play that you friend is in and you know you have to sit through. Except I didn’t sit through it, I turned it off half way through.

Now there was nothing particularly offensive in that film. There was no blood, no gore, no real swearing, no sex (well up until the bit where I turned it off, I can’t comment on the second half…). But it got me thinking – when is it OK to turn a film off?

Would you turn a film off because it had violence in? Because there were scenes of a ‘naked or sexual nature’? What about if there was destruction? Is it ungodly to watch films with outlandish sin in? What about watching a film that reveals the effects of sin? Where are the boundaries? What are the rules?

I asked a friend who was over to supper last night and she mentioned watching a ‘bad’ film recently – bad because of the content of it, not the quality.  I said would it be bad to make a film about cancer? Cancer is an effect of the fall. It’s an effect of man putting two fingers up to God. Cancer isn’t good. So would you watch a film about it? ‘Well yeah’ came the response, ‘but I guess its not all bad, good things can be seen through it’. Then we chatted about what can be classed as ‘biblical’ in a film. The Old Testament, if it was made into a proper film, would be rated 18. Rape, murder, adultery, Philistine foreskins being traded for peace. You name it, it’s in there. Its dark and murderous and evil, ‘every inclination of the thought’s of man’s heart was only evil all the time’. The Bible is not PG. And yet God’s plan for salvation shines through the broken fragments of a fallen world.

Fragments of good can be seen through the darkest of scenarios. Reflections of glory can be hungered after in the depths of suffering. Light is sometimes recognised in it’s absence, rather than its presence.  In the midst of the plagues of Egypt God calls His people to freedom from slavery. In the brokenness of rebellion God pursues His Church like an unrelenting husband. In Golgotha, the place of the skull, Jesus Christ defeated death.

So next time you watch a film that shocks you, think about it. What is the darkness revealing? Where is the light shining through? What is good and God-glorifying about this film? How does it reflect the image of the God who made us? How does it make me hunger after my Redeemer?

NB: I am not advocating a blind, undiscerning attitude to watching films. Last lent I game up Rom Coms – click here to see why.