Like the new pope, he walks among us.
By Lyle Dunne
I’ve never been sure about Bill Murray. Ghostbusters was fun, Groundhog Day very clever, but Lost in Translation seem a more apt title than its makers intended, even on a re-watching after a visit to Japan. And I haven’t seen St Vincent.
And he’s a bit, well, weird. Even by Hollywood standards, ie even apart from what could best be described as a complicated moral life, and marital history.
Yet the truth can emerge from surprising places. In a free-ranging interview of Murray by Catherine Shoard of The Guardian, the question of religion came up:
His parents were Irish Catholics; one of his sisters is a nun. This conspicuous religion adds to his broad church appeal (there’s a citation from the Christian Science Monitor on his golfing memoirs). You don’t need to ask if his faith is important to him. He talks about how 19th-century candidates risk not getting canonised because the church is keen to push ahead with the likes of John Paul II and Mother Teresa. “I think they’re just trying to get current and hot,” he smiles.
Reviewed by: Lyle Dunne
Christian Bale’s Moses… takes a 21st-century view of plagues and smiting, and thus his relationship with God doesn’t really develop, though they do seem later to agree that Commandments might be useful.
Spoiler alert: the Jews get away.
With a story like this, the director is at a disadvantage: everyone knows the ending.
Moreover, people come to it with a variety of expectations; the film has been controversial in a couple of respects.
Most of the fuss was about casting well-known actors (who tend ipso facto to be Americans, though English actors are included, and even Australians like Joel Edgerton as the Pharaoh Rameses) in the major roles. Dark make-up worn by Caucasian actors playing non-Caucasians is particularly politically incorrect (except in the case of Chris Lilley in Jonah from Tonga – but that’s on the ABC). Yet it’s hard to argue with Director Ridley Scott’s defence that it would be impossible to finance a film of this magnitude with unknown but ethnically-appropriate actors. (One might also query what sort of audience it would attract.)
Downplaying the miraculous?
There was also a concern that Scott, variously self-described as an atheist or (more recently) an agnostic, would downplay the miraculous, providing natural explanations for the plagues of Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea. Watching the movie, I had the sense that Scott was not only aware of this concern, but had milked it for advance publicity, and was using it for dramatic effect, to counter the fact that everyone knows the story. Thus God (or rather, a messenger from God, disembodied voices being a bit too Cecil B De Mille) speaks from, or at least appears near, the burning bush – but as Moses has just suffered a blow to the head, we’re not sure if he’s imagining it. (more…)