I’ve been compiling a mental list of great movies that have an agrarian or kinist minded theme either explicitly or implied. Instead of doing an individual review for each one, I decided to list five of them here with a short description of each. Most are appropriate for children, although caution is still advised. In most cases on this list, the theme and message are well worth patiently sifting through undesirable elements. If there is one truth I’ve learned, it is that nothing wholly good will come from Hollywood.
The Disney channel created a movie version of this book in 2003. The author of “A Wrinkle in Time” Madeleine L’engle was asked if the film met her expectations and she replied: “Yes, I expected it to be bad, and it was!” Meg and her brother Charles Wallace are both mis-fits who have a hard time of it in the local government school. Things are worse when they go home in the evenings. Their father has mysteriously disappeared for the past few years leaving them alone with a preoccupied mother. In addition to being just plain weird, Charles Wallace has borderline psychic powers and is in-tune with things. A trio of wandering angels realizes how special both he and Meg are, and mysteriously arrive into the plot, sweeping the children (and their friend Calvin) off to another world in the hopes of saving their father.
The movie made a few important changes from the book. One of the trio of angels is named Mrs. Whatsit and was the first to contact the children. She is wise and knowledgeable about the universe…so of course Disney thought a black woman (who looks like she could practice wild sorts of voodoo) would fit the part! Another of the angels, Mrs. Who, was so confounded by human speech that the only way she could communicate was by quoting great works of European literature as well as the Bible! Her explicit scriptural references were very diluted in the movie version.
There is a very controversial part of the book as well, that I’ll transcribe:
“Who have our fighters been?” Calvin asked.
“Oh, you must know them, dear,” Mrs. Whatsit said.
Mrs. Who’s spectacles shone out at them triumphantly, “And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”
“Jesus!” Charles Wallace said. “Why of course, Jesus!”
“Of course!” Mrs. Whatsit said. “Go on, Charles, love. There were others. All your great artists. They’ve been lights for us to see by.”
“Leonardo da Vinci?” Calvin suggested tentatively. “And Michelangelo?”
“And Shakespeare,” Charles Wallace called out, “and Bach! And Pasteur and Madame Curie and Einstein!”
Now Calvin’s voice rang with confidence. “And Schweitzer and Gandhi and Buddha and Beethoven and Rembrandt and St. Francis!”
Meg adds Euclid and Copernicus to the list before inquiring after her father.
This is almost blasphemy on L’engle’s part…including Jesus Christ, the God of all creation…in the same list with these other men. If one of the angels had simply said: “Yes Charles Wallace! Jesus is the brightest of ALL of these! All these other men are reflecting–in some measure or other–His light!” Then all would be well. But, as it is, we are left with a pseudo-Christian universalism.
The Disney version is even worse…they include the Marxist whore-monger “Dr.” Martin Luther King to the list.
However…once this is gotten around, what emerges is a story about three children who magically travel to an evil world to save their father. This planet is controlled by a sinister force of evil that is Hell-bent on forcing a sick sort of conformity on all citizens. Everyone on this planet moves in sync with an unheard rythm.
The evil is overthrown by Meg in the end, because Meg realizes that like does not mean equal! People are not meant to be unnaturally homogenized into one egalitarian blob!
With this theme at the end, combined with Christian overtones…I decided to include the movie, (preferably the book), on this list. It is probably the worst out of the five because of its questionable theology, however…if you watch it with your children and make sure they pick up the correct attitude from it, it is quite enjoyable and stimulates the imagination.
The world of “Surrogates” is populated by our neighbors. Imagine if everyone in America was given a robot that is controlled by the operator’s mind. People live vicariously through these machines, able to feel and experience life through robot senses.
Of course, everyone’s surrogate is a beautiful and flawless version of themselves.
During an accident Bruce Willis loses his surrogate and is forced to walk through life on his own, for the first time in years. He begins to see how beautiful nature is and how wonderful a holistic, organic approach to life could really be. He desires to hold his wife once more…not that cold, machine, but his real, flesh and blood wife!
When the movie is viewed this way, it becomes a powerful indictment against the monster societies created by man and the misuse of man’s technology. There is a very powerful scene when this attitude finally clicks in Willis’ mind, and he attacks a surrogate with his bare hands, leaving blood all over the face of the robot…the operator of which, remains clueless and hopelessly trapped in the anti-agrarian mind-set.
Some violence, some cussing…but overall a thrilling and moral film!
The “Battle for Terra” has a very overt and important theme!
Earth was destroyed, leaving humanity floating around in a giant space-ship searching for a new home. They stumble upon Terra, an ideal planet inhabited by peaceful, utopian-like aliens.
The quickly erroding space-station forces the hand of the humans, who end up attacking Terra…only to find that the peaceful little aliens aren’t as helpless as first thought. A massive air-battle ensues where the humans try to change the atmosphere to oxygen while the aliens try to destroy the conversion units.
Of course, the one general who is hell-bent on saving the human race from extinction is seen as the villain. His zeal to save humanity is not seen as a virtue if humanity must be saved at the cost of an alien race.
This raises important moral questions…though, it’s nothing a quick reading of Rushdoony’s “The Myth of Overpopulation” wouldn’t cure.
The movie, in the end, takes Rushdoony’s path, and realizes that lack of resources isn’t the problem…rather, lack of sound management is. When the two sets of life-forms decide to live harmoniously (in separate nations, mind you…not mixed together in some egalitarian Hell…) they realize that with proper handling of Terra’s resources, they can live happily ever after!
The Tale of Despereaux is one of the best computer animated movies I’ve seen.
It overtly glamorizes European character traits and promotes honor, chivalry, and most importantly, proper class-distinctions! I’ve never seen another movie in pop-culture that does so!
The defense of nobility is a small, though important side theme. Not every little girl is meant to be a princess…but every little girl does have a fulfilling life to live within her own class.
Despereaux lives in a society of mice that constantly demand that he give up his dreams of chivalry and honor, and heroism. One day, Despereaux stumbles upon a fairy tale about a European knight…and all bets are off. He meets a beautiful princess, and…well, as we men can tell you…throw a beautiful princess into the mix, and all thoughts of cowardice fall away in the face of calloused, and even reckless bravery!
Despereaux finds himself in a race against time to save the princess from the hoards of rats! Does he save her? Watch to find out!
Finally…one of my favorite movies…”Second Hand Lions” is a wonderful tribute to European heroism as well as to the freedom that comes from an eccentric, agrarian life-style.
This has to be one of Robert Duval’s greatest movies. Two old uncles take in their great-nephew and teach him about life, how to be a man…and most importantly: how to “die with your boots on!”
Duval’s character has a famous speech that he gives…the: “everything a boy needs to know about being a man” speech.
We never hear the entire thing, but the part we do hear is wholesome enough…and perhaps even Christian. I know Dr. Bahnsen would agree with it. I can’t quote from memory, but the gist of it is that there are things in life that a man just needs to believe in…things like honor; that good always wins; and that…true love never dies! A man should believe in these things, because they’re the only things worth believing in!
Sometimes…the world will tell us one thing. They will dogmatically persist in their affirmation of some god-less truth…and it is the viritue of a man…(according to Duval’s character, and I agree…) that he hold to his convictions EVEN IN SPITE of this sort of rhetoric!
Second Hand Lions is a heart-warming, must-see movie…it’s family friendly and exciting enough for both girls and boys, and has romance enough for mom, and action enough for dad!
I highly-recommend it. It’s the best movie I’ve seen lately.