stunned

that’s the best word I could think of to capture the impact of it.. stunned.. just returned from an opening night screening of The Movie, and it was a largely full house, and mostly silent after the 2:05 running time expired..

I’ll keep this entry to my feelings, and then perhaps later my thoughts, perhaps some time after my 2nd screening scheduled for tomorrow afternoon with colleagues.. a wide range of emotions flowed throughout the course of the movie, and I didn’t know where I’d end up, though the story line is familiar to many, both Christian and not; there wasn’t going to be any surprise (or bizarre) plot twists or fanciful character development.. straight up + straight through storytelling, masterfully done.. so I went along for the ride, and I would say I felt numb, but that’s such a weak word.. “overwhelmed” or “intense” is overused.. so I’m more satisfied with “stunned”.. it stunned me b/c I saw + experienced the agony and pains of Jesus in a way that no sacred text, no stained-glass stations, no extended period of meditation or prayer, no medical description of crucifixion could come close to making it come alive.. and having the suffering of Christ come alive didn’t evoke the generally typical Asian reaction of my unworthiness, and look-at-what-my-sins-caused-him-to-suffer shame and guilt, but rather it stunned me towards questions of why and how, why would Jesus endure all of that, and how did He last.. I felt like blacking out on a few occasions as Jesus was blacking out (as I actually had once, years ago, when I was working out and not breathing properly).. for a few moments there, I entered into his suffering, I entered into his temptation, and I am here now after it, stunned and amazed that he finished it to the end..

[semi-spoiler] this movie tightly focused on the sufferings of Christ during his final day, opening with a verse, and ending with a brief (maybe 15 seconds in all) resurrection scene.. with the excruciating moments of the Christ figure being beaten in all kinds of ways evoking in me enormous pain + rawness + heaviness, the flashbacks provided brief emotional relief.. I liked how the flashback portrayed the Christ figure being quite jovial and spirited..

2 complaints I’ve heard: that Satan was personified as female, and that the resurrection scene was too short.. I think it was masterful to personify Satan as a gender ambiguous person, since it fits our times, and by doing that, it put the personified Evil one in a new category, shattering the red-horned with pitchfork used-car-salesmany Devil caricature.. and I like the tightness of the movie timeline, and how it did not paint any context, and left it open ended, on both ends.. that leaves the door open for dialogue and exploration and discovery, and I believe that to be a better thing (less preachy), and a short resurrection is quite okay with me, b/c it bothers me that some Christian types avoid the suffering and the dark side of life, and so quickly move to happy triumphalism and blindly naive optimism..

now, having a few more moments to decompress, time passing while I blogged the above, I think The Movie was excellently put together, and fairly historically accurate — notice that the stirring controversy is not about the historicity — controversy stirs re: anti-semitism [the story happened that way, and the motive of the storyteller is not to be against the Jews, the motive was to tell the story, factually and historically, based on the Biblical text anyways] or gratuitous violence [but what was portrayed actually happened].. it was just put out there, to provoke and to open dialogue.. it achieves both quite well, and this weekend will prove that.. let’s talk about it..

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  1. enoch says:

    can’t wait to see it. i’m at a medical conference for a few days but hope to see it this weekend!

  2. Sivin Kit says:

    there’s no news so far whether Malaysia is going to show the movie. some of us might consider going down to Singapore or wait for the DVD.

  3. DocB says:

    Stunned. That’s exactly the word I used to describe my expeience too. Followed closely by praying “I’m sorry”.

  4. Robb says:

    DJ,
    Thanks for putting how I felt into words so articulately. I’ve read many thoughts and comments for and against the film from those who have not even seen it. It truly has to be seen and experienced to be talked about. For those who have seen it, the real dialogue has now begun.

  5. I loved your description of the movie, especially how your take on satan in the movie. Excellent!

  6. William W says:

    This is a great observation that you put together:

    “and a short resurrection is quite okay with me, b/c it bothers me that some Christian types avoid the suffering and the dark side of life, and so quickly move to happy triumphalism and blindly naive optimism..”

    I sometimes sence that I’ve just taken Christ for granted at times…

  7. William W says:

    This is a great observation that you put together:

    “and a short resurrection is quite okay with me, b/c it bothers me that some Christian types avoid the suffering and the dark side of life, and so quickly move to happy triumphalism and blindly naive optimism..”

    I sometimes sence that I’ve just taken Christ for granted at times…

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