There Will Be Blood and The Golden Compass show that religion is a touchy subject in film. The religious and parental banning of books and films has been a constant battle against artistic integrity. There really is no art without politics.blbig.jpg

There Will Be Blood features an outstanding performance by Daniel Day-Lewis as an pioneer oilman in the 1920s. The film assimilates Daniel’s growing business to the budding career of a fanatical televangelist-like preacher, Eli. I think this article got the message half right. It pits Eli and Plainview on opposite ends of the spectrum, one a self-serving atheist and the other a radical Christian. A few characters, like Plainview’s son H.W. , manage a middle road of virtue.

The movie upset a small percentage of movie-goers because of its negative display of Eli as a religious figure. Essentially the message is that evil exists on both sides of the spectrum. H.W. and his wife are morally sound people who chose to live a moderate life. The couple are involved in a church which appears from the short clip of their wedding to be Catholic.

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Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials series and an “outspoken British atheist”, is accused of being “anti-God, anti-religion, or anti-Christians”. The story, The Golden Compass, follows a young girl, Lyra Belzqua, as she attempts to save her kidnapped friend and unravels the corruption of the Magistrium. The movie did not fare too well in theaters, which Christian fundamentalist like to take credit for. The protest centered around the idea that children may not have the cognitive capacity to recognize the difference between the corrupt “Magistrate” and its connection with the Vatican leaders.

Critics feared the possibility of a sequel because the last install The Amber Spyglass evidently kills a character named God. The author claimed the intention was to show the corruption of religious groups when they gain absolute political control. The character God in the book is supposed to represent a false deity.

I love this quote from comedian Jim Gaffigan, “Have you ever read a book that changed your life? -Neither have I.” Movies have the same idea.

The point of film is to see a new perspective of an issue, not completely change everyone’s mind. If a person’s opinion can be swayed by a two hour presentation, namely a film, it was not that important to them in the first place.

Edit: A lot of readers seem to be looking for Daniel Day-Lewis’s personal religion. He was born Jewish according to this thorough biography. I am not sure if that is merely his heritage or his religion. There was no mention of whether he practiced the faith or not. He lives quite a turbulent life with a diverse dating record and a avid hatred of the press.

I decided to further investigate into his life and religious affiliation in an updated post, Daniel Day-Lewis On Religion.

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