That Swedish film again (letter)by Len PhillipsNews Weekly
, October 13, 2007
My review of the Swedish film, As It Is in Heaven
, in which I described the film as confirming contemporary anti-religious prejudices (News Weekly
, July 7, 2007), has provoked sharp, negative responses from at least two of your readers.
Marie Rankin declared, "Nowhere in the film did I recognise a specifically anti-God theme" (News Weekly
, July 21).
Don Gallagher agreed with this view, adding that he and two of his friends who saw the film "were all agreed that, as it appeared to be based on the life of Christ, it was far from being anti-religious" (News Weekly
, August 4).
I must say, going back over my review, I remember the film exactly as I wrote of it.
When the climax of the film is an entire congregation leaving its church and its pastor; when the core issue is the oppression of women by men; when not one but two
women leave their husbands; when a pastor - who is in every way an all-too-human but nevertheless decent man - is portrayed as a compulsive reader of soft pornographic material; and when the most important aim in life is portrayed as a narcissistic desire to enter a music competition rather than support one's religious beliefs - then all I can say is that there are sadly many who are not even aware of the ways in which their own values are being subverted and put under threat.
It is not necessarily a sign that a film portrays traditional values when it lasts so many weeks in the cinemas. I noticed to my surprise the other day that it was still playing here in Melbourne at the Como in Toorak - obviously, given its venue, playing to one of the most liberal-leftist audiences Melbourne can provide.
The film goes on and on, I suggest, because it is anti-church, not because the conductor at the centre of the story is a Christ-like figure.
"Know thine enemy" seems a useful principle here. If anyone thinks a film like this provides a foundation for people's religious and spiritual beliefs, then I wonder what a plot would have to show before they thought the reverse.Len Phillips,