Film Analysis Essay, Research Paper
Hollywood uses Christian symbolism to convey meaning.
As society continues to strive for integrity and the knowledge of other religions, Hollywood filmmakers strive to make equality in religious symbolism and faith but are unable to do so successfully. What we see in film we try to embrace and believe that it is all-real despite the fact it is only symbolic of life and religious beliefs. As we strive to see this, Hollywood continues to show us Christian symbolism to convey meaning and understanding towards the paranormal activity that we see in our lives.
The morals and values presented by modern filmmakers reflect the accepted beliefs of society today. Whilst reflecting on our accepted beliefs filmmakers who shape these beliefs by film also influence us. Despite the fact that societies standards of Christian symbolism has changed dramatically over the past three hundred years from exorcism and stigmata being a regular occurrence to it not occurring, film makers still continue to show us that these experiences occur often than what we perceive.
As a recent study into Hollywood vs. Christian beliefs three successful movies Stigmata, End of Days, and Exorcist, were analysised with regard to the hypothesis that a Hollywood film uses Christian symbolism to convey meaning. Throughout all three films Christian symbolism was used to convey the meaning that normal people are affected by stigma.
Films about Christian symbolism is in great demand and are dominate through the American and Australian film industry. The hypothesis – Hollywood uses Christian symbolism to convey meaning was tested in three movies. Exorcist, Stigmata and End of Days all deal with some form of Christian symbolism, which is not always the correct interpretation and can be detrimental to the pursuit for equality towards religion.
End of Days
It is a few days before the new millennium in New York City, and though most of its denizens are fixated on their party plans and the dreaded Y2K bug, an evil force stirs beneath the streets. After a mysterious earthquake and series of explosions, Satan (Gabriel Byrne) emerges from the subterranean depths, assumes human form and walks the city in search of his bride, which has been prophesized in the Book of Revelations. The woman he is in search of is Christine York (Robin Tunney), a twenty-year old woman who has been troubled by inexplicable religious visions all her life. In order to bring an era of darkness upon Man, Satan must consummate his relationship with his new bride between the hour of 11pm and midnight on the last night of the year.
However, standing in the way of Satan’s apocalyptic scheme is Jericho Cane, a former NYPD officer turned high-tech security guard. Having survived the brutal murder of his wife and child, Jericho (Schwarzenegger) is a complete burnout, an alcoholic on the verge of suicide who risks his life in the hopes of ending his own suffering. However, he finds a renewed sense of purpose when a mysterious shooting leads him and his partner (Kevin Pollak ) hot on the trail to uncovering one thousand years of religious prophecy and the darkness that threatens to engulf mankind for all eternity.
Through out this movie there is reference to Christian symbolism from the apocalyptic end that was to occur to the book of revelations that prophesied that Satan would reign again to the usage of people being crucified. End of Days continued to use a large amount of Christian symbolism to portray its message that faith is the best weapon against Satan; self-sacrifice is sometimes necessary to save others from their deadly fate. To save Christine York from the awful fate of having Satan s child and releasing evil on the world, Jericho killed himself, proving that self-sacrifice is sometimes necessary. Despite this the hypothesis is continually used to help the story move with crucifixion and speaking in tongues occurring to minor characters. Thus proving that Hollywood does use Christian symbolism to convey meaning.
Famous actress Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn), who lives in a swank section of Georgetown, seeks medical help when her 12-year-old daughter, Regan (Linda Blair), exhibits strange behavior. Doctors administer many tests but find no physical or psychological problem. Chris, an atheist, rejects the doctors’ suggestion of religious counsel. But when then now grotesque Regan begins moving furniture around the room by telekinesis and becomes so violent that she has to be tied to the bed, Chris seeks the help of Father Karras (Jason Miller), whose own faith has been weakening.
During his visits, Karras sees a grotesque looking Regan, who utters profanity in a deep voice and has serious convulsions. She cannot only open drawers without touching them and speaks English backward. The priest believes Regan is possessed and recommends an exorcism. Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) is contacted and arrives in the middle of a foggy night to help. Karras and Merrin enter Regan’s room to battle the demon and their own faith.
Exorcist was one of the most successful horror movies of the 20th Century and it still continues to scare people back to the church, to the extent that to utter the word Damien would scare someone back to the Church. Exorcist is not the stereotypical Christian symbolic movie like End of Days and Stigmata as it shows the dark side of life. During the film exorcism is done on Regan to change her back to a normal pre-pubescent girl, something that is not encouraged by all Christian religions accept the Jesuits. During the exorcism there is numerous Christian symbolism used such as the Latin, holy water and the cross, to try and peruse the demon out of Regan s body.
The message continually depicted in Exorcist was that Satan can be inside of all of us and we must follow our heart to God to get away from Satan. This was continually stated to try and peruse the viewer to turn back to God. Similar to End of Days it portrayed the message that self-sacrifice is sometimes necessary to save others from their deadly fate, this shown by Karras accepting Satan into his body to save the innocent life of Regan.
Exorcist may not be the stereotypical happy ending Hollywood movie were the good and only the bad looses but it continues to show Christian symbolism through out the entire movie thus proving that the hypothesis – Hollywood uses Christian symbolism to convey meaning proves to be true.
Frankie Paige (Patricia Arquette) works as a hairdresser in Pittsburgh, but, lately, her everyday routine has been disturbed by a series of paranormal attacks, causing her to bleed from her head, hands and feet. A no-nonsense type, Frankie seeks medical help, but doctors can’t explain what she is going through. Frankie’s hardship also baffles her boyfriend Steven (Patrick Muldoon), who begins distancing himself from her. Frankie’s close friends, Donna (Nia Long) and Jennifer (Portia de Rossi), eventually become similarly alienated.
When a local priest witnesses one of Frankie s attacks, the Catholic Church hierarchy gets involved. Cardinal Houseman (Jonathan Pryce), a high-ranking Vatican official, dispatches Father Andrew Kiernan (Gabriel Byrne), a troubleshooter of sorts, to investigate. Father Kiernan befriends Frankie. He also becomes attracted to her and soon finds himself acting as her protector, a role somewhat at odds with his assignment. “Francis of Assisi was the first to have stigmata,” he confides to Frankie. “He lost a pint of blood daily.”
As in Exorcist the main character is posed, and shows numerous characteristics of Christian symbolism such as speaking Latin, and reciting of gospel quotations. Frankie continues to show signs of how Jesus crucifixion despite her being a non-believer in there being a God or a higher being. Stigmata’s screenplay, written by Tom Lazarus and Rick Ramage continue to use examples of other visions and stigmatic experiences through out the film with reference to real experience such as the statue that cried blood and the visions of the Virgin Mary. Despite this there were numerous other Christian symbolism in the movie that was made reference to that was false such as there being 32 gospels in print and that are the word of Jesus and his thoughts when in reality there is four gospels that are the word of God and the life of Jesus.
Portrayed in Stigmata was the message that that institutionalized religion cannot be trusted, for the kingdom of God is inside you, not inside buildings made of wood and stone and this was continually shown by Christian symbolism despite the fact that this message is not promoted by the Church.
After viewing the three films Stigmata, Exorcist and, End of Days it has revealed a disturbingly common trend in the way Hollywood uses Christian symbolism to convey meaning, with the hypothesis proving to be correct in each case of experienced film. Christian symbolism is used continually through out the films to explain supernatural phenomenon such as stigmata and exorcism, despite each victim being a non-believer in a God or a higher being. These portrayals can be detrimental to the development of religion through out the world, perpetuating that there is no need for religion as a person will be touched, receive stigma and, become possessed despite not having a belief in a higher being.
Movies produced showing Christen symbolism as their main theme convey false Christian messages to society. These false messages depicted can give non-Christians the wrong impression of the religion. Modern Hollywood film that portray Christian symbolism gives messages to viewer such as; faith is the best weapon against Satan; self-sacrifice is sometimes necessary to save others from their deadly fate and that institutionalized religion cannot be trusted, for the kingdom of God is inside you, not inside buildings made of wood and stone.
It is time for the film industry to review the irresponsible messages that it is conveying throughout film and to use its influence in a positive way to promote all religions of the world and there true and honest beliefs and symbolism, by doing this it will create a more wide read society which understands the needs for religion and not just the Christian symbolism.
+ It is strongly believed that there should be more incentive to produce films that depict other religious symbolism other than Christianity. This would promote more equality to other religions and create a greater general knowledge of these religions and a small parts of their belief system thus stopping the offensiveness that may occur due to attitudes.
+ As viewers we should encourage more accurate movies on Christian symbolism. By doing this it would be beneficial towards the religion that we are supporting.