Author Topic: Some Thoughts on the Movie "Black River"  (Read 1408 times)

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Offline Asteriktos

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Some Thoughts on the Movie "Black River"
« on: July 24, 2003, 10:08:47 AM »
I watched a movie called Black River (which was based on a Dean Koontz novel) last night, and wanted to post some thoughts about it. The movie, overall, was interesting. I wouldn't say it was thought-provoking, action-packed, filled with sexuality or language (it was rated PG), or anything else that normally makes movies "interesting" (according to normal American culture). Rather, the story was told/shot in an off-center way, and was somewhat stop and go in the story telling, but in spite of this--or rather, because of it--this all transfered very well from book to movie. At the end I had a very positive impression of the movie.

However, though the impression was positive, there were two exceptions, both of which related to how the movie (and perhaps Koontz himself?) had handled spirituality. A little summary of the movie is necessary to understand both of the problems I had with it, so I'll go through things quickly: a man comes into a small town, his car breaks down, all sorts of wierd stuff happens to him, and he finds that he cannot leave town, no matter how hard he tries. A mysterious voice calls him on the phone (sometimes multiple phones at once) and says mysterious things. A mysterious vehicle runs around with apparently no one operating it (no driver). There's lots of similar wierd stuff going on.

Eventually, the guy goes slightly bonkers and confronts the mayor (who isn't responsible for what's going on, but seems to know more than he's letting on). This brings us to both my problems, which arose during the conversation of the man with the mayor. The mayor claims that his brother, who was a "priest," had died 2 years ago, but had "come back" 1 year ago and had been doing good deeds and helping the town become a model town. What's more, the dead priest is talked of as an angel. Apparently hollywood thinks that dead people who go to heaven become angels (the "guardian angel" of their town) that come back and bestow good gifts on those that deserve it (oh, but don't make the angel mad, because they can be very veangeful... btw, they don't get mad when you disobey God, but instead, when you don't do their seemingly earthly desires, like help them build a utopia on earth).

Here's the second problem, though, the man had a hard time believing what the mayor was saying. He had just had laser beams shooting at him from the skies, mysterious voices talking on the phone that seemingly knew everything about him, his car broke down and there were many slip ups that got him arrested, a guy who had been harsh with him was killed in a freak accident, a vehicle ran around with no driver.... there was a thousand whacky things going on: but oh no, he couldn't possibly believe that there was some supernatural answer to this. This just wasn't conceivable. (the answer, in the end, had to do with a self-conscience super computer type of organism that used all things electronic as it's eyes and ears and brain and such).

According to this movie, the most important thing for humans wasn't God, or even being made in the image of God: it was consciousness. So the whole movie was about this machine become self-conscious and turning on it's creators (in an admittedly creative way). Humans were "no longer alone" (to use a line from the movie) in the universe. Perhaps for Mr. Koontz this is what is interesting. Perhaps for hollywood this is what is interesting. In the end, I didn't find the content interesting so much as they way they told the story. The content was rather flimsy, from a Christian point of view, but it was told well. It reminds me of that line Stephen King once used when referring to his own work: "I write schlock, but it's good schlock".

There was a great deal of potential in a movie like this to explore a number of issues. A movie like this would have been an amazingly more valuable vehicle for exploring, as one example, the same issues that the Matrix 2 tried so shallowly and dryly to delve into. Here was a chance to see how people reacted when fate--or even God, but then this is hollywood--dealt them certain cards and wouldn't let them change course. Free-will was allowed, but in the end fate (or God) had it's will done. And there were so many other issues to explore. Certainly this was more than a Groundhog Dayesque type of movie, but still I feel like it fell far short of what it could have been.

Again, I generally got a positive impression from the movie, as entertainment. The content of the story wasn't especially something I'd applaud, but it was told well at least. Even a good bard can make a bad story into an entertaining one I suppose. If you have a chance to see it, please do and tell me if I'm wrong (and thankfully it's rated PG, so the only offensive material is the humanistic world-view driving all the actions/beliefs).