Good Movies, Bad Religion

By Joop Koopman

Posted 1/11/08 at 6:33 AM


In the past week I had the privilege of seeing two amazing films: There Will Be Blood (bit on the long side) and the uncut version of Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander (a whopping five-plus hours that fly by). Interestingly, coincidentally, both stories are set about a 100 years ago and both feature a very dark religious figure—a money-hungry pretending-to-be charismatic preacher in the American west, and a Swedish Lutheran bishop who is outright evil. On the surface, it’s easy, if trite, to point at the pernicious, hypocritical nature of organized religion. But as tapestries of humanity, of excess, joy, generosity, pain and suffering—and also in their visual beauty and music—both films sweepingly embrace the ultimately unfathomable glory and mystery of creation.