Monday, March 25, 2013

Horrifying Hollywood Theology

In which Satan or one of the other Archangels are got right...

Perhaps as a result of my Roman Catholic upbringing (but despite my current lack of commitment to such superstitions) interesting portrayals of Satan and other fallen, falling, troubled, or troubling angels have always fascinated me.

"Did you ever notice how in the Bible, when ever God needed to punish someone, or make an example, or when ever God needed a killing, he sent an angel? Did you ever wonder what a creature like that must be like? A whole existence spent praising your God, but always with one wing dipped in blood. Would you ever really want to see an angel?" The Prophecy

Most of these films are not for the squeamish, a few offer up only a couple worthwhile minutes, and only one is meant for children (please don't guess wrong).  Look for Keanu Reeves and Tilda Swinton in two movies each.

Legion (2009) Kevin Durand as Gabriel (who wouldn't have made this list except for a moment's quiet conversation)

Constantine (2005) Peter Stormare as Satan, and in the picture at the top of the post, Tilda Swinton as Gabriel (I like her Gabriel much better).

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005) Tilda Swinton as the White Witch (Satan, in case you haven't figured out C.S. Lewis's allegorical system yet).  She had the deadest eyes...Brrr!

The Ninth Gate (1999) Emmanuelle Seigner as The Girl (who plays supernatural guardian to an amoral guy looking for the door to, does that make her an angel or a something else?)

The Devil's Advocate (1997) Al Pacino as John Milton (Satan, adopting the name of Milton, the poet who wrote Paradise Lost, which was about Satan...oh, never mind!). His soliloquy at the climax of the film is worth the price of admission.

The Prophecy (1995) Christopher Walken as Gabriel and Viggo Mortenson as LuciferThe movie borders on camp throughout, but it has its moments.  These actors earned a place on this list with a single line of dialogue each.  The story is interesting for its correct portrayal of the archangel and the fallen one as equals.

"I'm an angel. I kill firstborns while their mamas watch. I turn cities into salt. I even, when I feel like it, rip the souls from little girls, and from now till kingdom come, the only thing you can count on in your existence is never understanding why." The Prophecy 

You'll have to look up Lucifer's line yourself.  Whew...!

Jacob's Ladder (1990) Danny Aiello as Louis (not at all clear whether he was an angel or a demon...more than a little ambiguity in this film)

"If you're frightened of dying, and you're holding on, you'll see devils tearing your life away. If you've made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the Earth." Jacob's Ladder

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) Juliette Caton as the Girl Angel (perhaps the gentlest and most deceptive manifestation of Satan ever captured on film.)

“I'm the angel who guards you. Your Father is the God of mercy, not punishment.
He saw you and said, ‘Aren't you his guardian angel? Well, go down and save him. He's suffered enough.’
Remember when he told Abraham to sacrifice his son?  Abraham was just about to kill the boy with his knife when God stopped him. So, if he saved Abraham's son, don't you think he'd want to save his own? He's tested you and he's happy with you. He doesn't want your blood.
He said, ‘Let him die in a dream. But let him live his life.’"

Angel Heart (1987) Robert De Niro as Louis Cypher (Lucifer...get it? Ha!)

"You know, some religions think that the egg is the symbol of the soul, did you know that?  Would you like an egg?" Angel Heart

The Keep (1983) Scott Glenn as Glaeken Trismegestus (who must be some sort of angel if Radu Molasar was a demon)

Are there others you recommend?  And no, as much as I love the movie, Clarence from It's a Wonderful Life does not count...

"And the angels, terrible and without pity, carry savage weapons, and their torture is unmerciful." The Ascension of Enoch, from the Hagganah