Friday, December 28, 2007

The Power of Revenge: Sweeney Todd

I was only vaguely aware that there was a musical about a murderous barber. I am not very familiar with the musical, and I don't know how popular it was. After seeing this movie last night, I am convinced that the only reason that most people will go and see this is because of Johnny Depp & Tim Burton. That's why I went. I have always been a fan of Tim Burton's work, with a few exceptions like Planet of the Apes and his two Batman movies. Depp has always been one of his favorites to work with and I always have enjoyed it when they team up. Burton is an excellent storyteller who knows how to use visuals to enhance the story. This film is no exception. London and most of its inhabitants are pale and grey. The few splashes of color either represent those whom Todd will have his revenge on, the "innocent," or the blood that flows during the taking of that revenge. The music is outstanding. Everyone can sing. I was not all that surprised that Depp could sing. Alan Rickman's vocal performance is what impressed me. The acting was wonderful. Depp has never looked more haunted or sinister. Helena Bohnam Carter was excellent as Todd's partner in crime.

But I am still torn as to what kind of review to give this film. There is so much to like about Sweeney Todd. I'm still trying to sort out the point of the whole thing. Why go to such great and wonderful lengths to tell such a dark story? The tag line on the poster for the film is "Never Forget, Never Forgive." It's all about revenge. Todd will have his revenge on those who wronged him. He was done a great injustice, but does that warrant all the bloodshed? At first Todd only wants those who had a hand in the wrong that was done to him, but soon after he goes for the throats of any poor soul who sits in his chair. His revenge is consuming him. As Aunt May told Peter in Spider-Man 3, "Revenge is like a poison." It poisons everything that Todd does, even to the point of his own destruction. I don't think that Burton intended to make Todd a sympathetic character. Can we understand his pain at the injustice he was given? Yes. But at the revenge he took? No. At least while I was watching, every time someone was in his chair, I wanted him to stop. By the time he took his revenge on the one man he was after the entire film, Todd had become the villain of the film. His thirst for revenge killed him long before he meets his end.

Revenge and injustice is a popular theme in films. It is something that I enjoy thinking about because I think that everyone can understand injustice and wanting to take matters into our own hands. Especially when those who are supposed to give us justice give us a big helping of injustice instead. Scripture tells us that it is God alone who will bring vengeance. The hard part is waiting, because so much injustice needs to be made right, and much of it right now. But bringing justice and revenge are never the same. Revenge always poisons and kills more we intend. Because that is not our place. As believers, we need to work with the tools that God has given us, like civil authorities (Romans 13) to work against injustice. When those fail, we must wait on God for justice. Some of that will happen now, but much of it will have to wait until our Lord's return.

So what about the Demon Barber of Fleet Street? Todd is no hero. Revenge poisons and kills. Revenge also blinds us to good things that are right in front of us. Todd was so blind that he SPOILER ALERT killed the wife he thought he lost. This was a great movie because of the view it took on revenge, as well as its design and performances. But I won't see it again. The movie leaves you with no hope. I need a little hope in my films now and then. Hope is redemptive, and there is no redemption for Sweeney Todd.

I'll give it 9/10

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Evening Prayer

This is the Evening Prayer (pg 120) from "Valley Of Vision." I have been using it for my evening devotions and I thought I would share it. It has blessed me and I hope it will do the same for you.

O Lover of Thy People,
thou has placed my whole being in the hands of Jesus,
my redeemer, commander, husband, friend,
and carest for me in him.

Keep me holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners;

May I not know the voice of strangers,
but go to him where he is, and follow where he leads.
Thou hast bathed me once for all in the sin-removing fountain,
cleanse me now from this day's defilement,
from its faults, deficiencies of virtue,
harmful extremes,
that I may exhibit a perfect character in Jesus.

O master, who didst wash the disciples' feet,
be very patient with me,
be very condescending to my faults,
go on with me till thy great work in my is completed.

I desire to conquer self in every respect,
to overcome the body with its affections and lusts,
to keep under my flesh,
to guard my manhood from all grosser sins,
to check the refined power of my natural mind,
to live entirely to thy glory,
to be deaf to unmerited censure and praise of men.

Nothing can hurt my new-born inner man,
it cannot be smitten or die;

Nothing can mar the dominion of thy Spirit within me;

It is enough to have thy approbation and that of my conscience.

Keep me humble, dependent, supremely joyful,
as calm and quiet as a suckling child,
yet earnest and active.

I wish not so much to do as to be, and I long to be like Jesus;

If thou dost make me right I shall be right;

Lord, I belong to thee, make me worthy of thyself.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Sad Day

While I love comics, I have not bought issues for quite some time. I keep up with Spidey through other blogs and message boards. Sometimes I'll wait until certain stories are packaged in a trade paperback and read it. Right now I'm a bit upset, but so are many of loyal Spider-Man fans. One storyline in Spider-Man that I think has just finished or is about to is "One More Day." The whole point of this bad story is that the marriage of Peter and M.J. is over. Stupid. Just plain stupid. This is as bad as when years ago during the "Clone Saga" when they killed off Doc Ock. I stopped buying comics at that point because I was upset not about his death, but how it came about. Back to the issue at hand, I have always loved my favorite hero being married. Their relationship has always been one of the highlights of the Spidey books. This has rubbed so many folks the wrong way that there is even a "Boycott Spider-Man" movement starting. For those of you who don't like or read comics, and are thinking, "What's the big deal?", think about something that has meant a lot to you over the years. Then imagine if someone took something crucial to your enjoyment of that and did away with it, but also did away with it in an incredibly stupid way. I know that there is a lot more important things going on in the world right now, but something like this just adds a touch of sadness to my day. But those of us who know comics know that nothing is ever certain.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Boost For Your Prayer Life

It's too bad that the Puritans don't get a fair shake today. I have always been blessed when I read from the Puritans. But I have to say that Valley of Vision is by far the most helpful. It has prayers for almost any occasion or spiritual mood that you may find yourself in. It's amazing how these prayers capture the condition of the human heart, and the grace and mercy of our God, just to mention a few. Sometimes I will find myself reading these out loud for my own prayers because they give me direction when my mind will so often wander when I pray. I hope you find it helpful.

Have You Hugged A Scot Today?

This was a book that I probably would not have read if it was not placed in my hand by someone whose opinion on books is always worth listening to. If you like political, military, economic, or social history, then this book is for you. I found it very informative and very readable. Although, I think that in the beginning Herman is a bit hard on John Knox and the Covenanters. I also thought that he did a good job of demonstrating how humanism began to influence the university system and especially the seminaries. All in all a great read.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Gift Cards

I love getting gift cards! If anyone asks me what I would like for a gift, that is usually my answer. I got my first Christmas gift card a few days ago and it's already been spent. When I saw this gem of a film on the shelf I could not pass it up. I loved the cartoon when I was a kid. I saw this movie when it came out and have always wanted a copy of my own. I enjoyed the movie that came out last summer, but this one is much, much better. Autobots! Transform and roll out!


Greeting everyone! Although I think I'm being a little unrealistic if I think there is anyone lining up to read this. But I thought that if I start a blog I should actually write something. So what should I talk about today? Right now I have no idea. But I'm sure something will come to mind by the end of the day.