Got in at about midnight last night from the convention–and boy, is my head spinning. It’s taken all day to unpack, do laundry, and sort through all the material I brought home in my suitcase. I have about a dozen thank you notes to write, books to put away, receipts to enter, and thoughts to ponder.
A couple of things to pass on: http://www.thenativitystory.com has a trailer and a clip about the making of the film that will open on December first. I met the screenwriter, Mike Rich (we did a signing together), and was very impressed with his friendliness and down-to-earth manner. And his screenplay is brilliant, of course. I only hope he likes the novelization when it’s done.
I watched an amazing film this week. It’s not for the faint of heart, and it earns its R rating–so consider yourself warned if you know you can’t watch gritty movies. It is DOGVILLE, by director Lars von Trier, and it’s one of those films that leaves you thinking and puzzling for days after you watch it.
The story line is fairly simple–a girl in jeopardy, Grace, comes to a small, desperate town during the time of the depression. The town writer/philosopher warms to her (she’s Nicole Kidman–who wouldn’t?) and the town votes to take her in. In return, she’ll do chores for the townsfolk.
As she gets to know the people, they fall in love with her–and they discover that everything is easier with Grace’s help. She speaks the truth, helps them to see through their delusions and shortcomings, and they love her for it. Life is easier with Grace.
But Grace is apparently running from gangsters who will stop at nothing to get her back. Over time, as “wanted” posters appear, the townsfolk begin to think maybe Grace owes them a little more than a few chores. They work her double time and cut her pay. Tom, the writer, loves her, but can’t seem to defend her with anything more than words and good intentions.
Finally, Grace is raped . . . and then begins to be abused by all the men of the town. The women abuse her, too, but in other ways. The townfolk chain her, put a dog collar around her neck, and finally her true love turns her in to the gangsters.
When the gangsters arrive, Tom explains that they’ve chained Grace for their own safety. And they’re not expecting a reward, “unless you’d like to divest yourself of something . . .” (What hypocrisy!)
Turns out that the gangster is Grace’s father, and they’ve had a disagreement. (The analogy isn’t perfect; there are a few red herrings tossed in.) Grace wants to forgive the townspeople for the horrible way they’ve treated her–they only acted horrible because that’s their nature. “I probably would have acted that way myself, were I in their shoes.”
But then she thinks . . . and she realizes that she wouldn’t have–ever–acted that way. And so they deserve to be punished.
During this exchange, one of the hoodlums sticks his head into the car and says, “Shall we take the curtains down? You don’t need them anymore.”
Grace looks at the curtains that shield the occupants of the car from view and says, “I think that’s appropriate.” For the first time, the townspeople get a clear view of their judge.
And the gangsters open fire and destroy the town. Grace herself, acting as Judge, kills Tom, the man who betrayed her.
There’s a lot more to the story–it’s told in a theatrical setting, with chalk outlines instead of walls and actual buildings, because God sees through walls. Often the camera is overhead, giving viewers the “God-view.”
We hear so much about God being love; we see so many redemption stories. How often do we forget that Jesus will be the judge on the Great White Throne? Sin will be punished. Those who abuse and reject grace will pay the consequences.
Once again, be warned–this film earns its R-rating. But it’s profoundly symbolic. If you watch it, notice how the townspeople represent philosophies–commerce, education, philosophy, medicine.
It’s certainly not a feel good movie, nor a comfortable one. But it rings with Truth.