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March 16, 2006

American Messiah Revisited

I've enjoyed reading Lance Mannion's review of The Proper Care and Feeding of an American Messiah and his interview with director Chris Hansen (btw, Chris also has a blog that describes his experiences as an independent fimmaker). Because I watched the film without an audience, I couldn't get a sense of how the film would play for other viewers, and Lance's comments on the film and his interview with Chris helped to clarify much of what I liked about the film.

Like Lance, I was struck by the narcissism of the central character Brian B, whose "miracles" never seem to serve anyone other than himself. Although Brian believes himself to be called by God, displays little generosity towards others, including a homeless man who asks for Brian's help. In his interview with Lance, Chris comments on his impatience with big-name Christians, such as Pat Robertson, who "don't represent Christianity very well," while adding that he has become more interested in the historic role of Christianity in issues of social justice. And here I think Lance's read is right on:

But Brian B., as a satirical target, isn't meant to be a stand-in for those big-name Christians, except to the degree that they preach a religion of complaceny and self-aggrandizement instead of one of charity, mercy, humility, and love.

The object of satire in Brian's story is also its point of sympathy. Brian's "folly" is his desire to feel special and important in a vast and unfriendly universe, and his quest for proof that God is out there and that he cares, while played for laughs, is still treated with compassion.

I believe that Lance is planning a third blog entry on Messiah, and when it's available, I'll post the link, but it's nice to be able to communicate with others about the film, even through the mediated world of blogging.

Posted by chuck at March 16, 2006 1:51 PM

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it's nice to have people talking about the film, thanks to blogging, since it hasn't seen the light of day yet. your review and lance's have both made me feel much better about the film, much more like it works and connects with an audience.

now, if you and lance ever start a film festival...

Posted by: Chris at March 16, 2006 2:28 PM

I think it does connect, and Lance's commenters also imply that there would be an audience for your film.

And Sujewa's review also conveys what's cool about Messiah.

Posted by: Chuck at March 16, 2006 2:36 PM

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