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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Downers in the Media

Yesterday I posted an explanation of my appreciation for certain contemporary books and movies that deal with dark and depressing subject matter. And while a lot of current media do come from a particularly nihilistic mindset, dark and depressing have characterized great works of art for centuries.

  • Oedipus Rex by Sophocles. Man sleeps with mother and murders father. Has his eyes gouged out. Lesson: don't defy the gods.
  • Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare. Perhaps the bloodiest and cruelest play ever written.
  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare. Murder, guilt, sorcery, divination, treason.
  • Othello by William Shakespeare. Deception, distrust, murder.
  • Anna Karenina by Lev Tolstoy. Adultery, greed, selfishness, gruesome suicide
  • Crime and Punishment by Feodor Dostoevsky. Axe murderer redeemed by a prostitute with a heart of gold.
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Adultery, hypocrisy.
  • The Tell-tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe. Murder, guilt.
  • Jude, the Obscure by Thomas Hardy. Adultery, depression, suicide.
  • Moby Dick, The Great Gatsby, Farewell to Arms, and so forth.
Great art always deals with the truth, even from a non-Christian perspective. Sometimes great art strives for the truth, but misses and embraces falsehood. Even this is important for many are deeply impacted by the lies of great art.

Certain modern films, such as Fargo, Magnolia, and Match Point to name a few, treat the frailties of man in honest, interesting and even helpful ways.

What are your thoughts about classic and modern literature (and serious film) which deal with violence, sin, and the gruesomeness of life on earth? Any good examples I've missed?

Next, I'm thinking I'll write about why horror films are sometimes the most Christian movies made.

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Anonymous said...

I've not seen it, but do you think
that, "Sin City" might qualify?

Carl said...

One film I recently viewed that fills your bill is, "The Browning
Version." It's about sin, but there's no violence, just a very powerful, understated perfomance by
Albert Finney.
Here is a webpage with several positive reviews. A very moving, excellent film with great acting!

S. Bauer said...

A Picture of Dorian Grey
The Lord of the Flies

When the artist deals truthfully with these themes, he or she hits the message of the Law square on the head, for they "are a Law unto themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts" (Rom 2:14-15).

It is the answers the artist brings to bear to this problem of the human condition that is determined by their religion--their understanding of/relationship to God.

New Curriculum at Concordia Theological Seminary