Tuesday, August 21, 2007


More than one reviewer has portrayed Stardust as this generation's Princess Bride. It's an unfair comparison that is more likely the result of lazy reviewers paying more attention to promotional materials than the film. From what I know, the only connection between Stardust and the Princess Bride is that they could both fit into the genre of fairy tale. Beyond that, Stardust has no more similarity to Princess Bride than it does to Snow White.

A better comparison is Eragon. [But Stardust is a much better film]. Like Eragon, Stardust is a coming of age story. It's the ancient formula of "Jack" the young hero who sets out on a quest as a bumbling boy and returns as a man. But Stardust adds a twist of romance to the coming-of-age formula. In fact, Stardust is a combination of fairy tale types. The romance in Stardust is the formula of the the young man who falls in love with an enchanted creature who chooses humanity for the sake of love. In this case, its Yvaine, who is a fallen star. She can survive in the mystical land of Stronghold, but if she should cross the wall into our world she will disintegrate into stardust.

The story adds yet another fairy tale theme in the form of Yvaine's desire to live among the humans she has watched over the centuries. But wait, there's still another fairy tale theme woven into this story. Tristan, our "Jack" in this complex fairy tale, is the hidden king who is the rightful heir to the throne of Stronghold.

The story is a crazy quilt of fairy tale ideas woven together nicely and without confusion. The visual magic of the film is delightful as well. The philosophy is also rich. The opening line is worth pondering:

A philosopher once asked, "Are we human because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at them because we are human?" Pointless, really. Do the stars gaze back? -- Now that's a question.

The philosopher may have overlooked the possibility that the heavenly creatures are in awe of the lives of mere mortals. But the apostle seemed to understand it . . .

The prophets who told us this was coming asked a lot of questions about this gift of life God was preparing. The Messiah's Spirit let them in on some of it—that the Messiah would experience suffering, followed by glory. They clamored to know who and when. All they were told was that they were serving you, you who by orders from heaven have now heard for yourselves—through the Holy Spirit—the Message of those prophecies fulfilled. Do you realize how fortunate you are? Angels would have given anything to be in on this! - 1 Peter 1:10-12

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Bourne Ultimatum

Government must have a conscience. When government loses its soul people become materials to be used. They can be "liquidated." People can be trained to kill without guilt thus becoming "assets." It is a tidy, antiseptic, orderly world. But if anyone develops a conscience, then it all falls apart. These themes play out very well in the final installment of the Bourne trilogy. Jason Bourne's quest to discover who he is rips the lid off of the darkest corners of the nation's psyche.

I admire the fact that the villains and heroes in the world of Bourne are complex. The villains are not megalomaniacs in leisure suits. No, they are people just like any of us. Most of them are civil servants who are simply doing their jobs. They believe in what they do without fanaticism, but many of them do not take the time to reflect on the implications of their work. Of course, some of the "villains" are the assassins, or more accurately assets. They are not complex. They are barely human. They are machine-men trained to perform task without question or reflection of any sort. They wait in secluded hotel rooms for their next assignment is transmitted to them via email from a "handler." The film portrays these assets as blank robots until one compelling scene toward the end of the film when Bourne, who was also an asset, chooses to make the other killer think rather than fight. It is a powerful exchange.

Likewise, the heroes of Bourne Ultimatum are people who are atoning for the sins of their own past. They are not angels. No, they are people just like any of us. They have simply reflected on the system in which they find themselves and dare to do what is right and moral even though it may be costly.

Since we all have the choice to act as hero or villain, we ought to reflect on our choices and then do all that we can to imbue government of the people, by the people, and for the people with a conscience and soul.