Wednesday, February 09, 2011

a question about religion and film

I just saw Anthony Hopkins in The Rite last weekend. It was a halfway decent movie with its high points but after The Exorcist it is difficult for any exorcism-themed supernatural thriller to impress or cover new ground. (Although, Drag Me To Hell wasn't bad and the Angel episode I've Got You Under My Skin had a nice twist.)

It occurs to me that (even apart from the super-obvious examples like The Ten Commandments or The Passion of The Christ) there are plenty of Hollywood movies which assume that Christianity is basically true (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Rapture, The Book of Eli, Left Behind). There are also a number of movies where Hinduism is true (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Love Guru) and movies where Buddhism or other Eastern philosophies are true (The Golden Child, Little Buddha, a number of martial arts films). But I was hard pressed to come up with a movie where Islam was true. Apart from The Message, the only one I could think of was The Jewel of the Nile (which is actually full of your typical Arab stereotypes, but the "Jewel" of the title is an Egyptian Sufi with real powers.) Are there any others?


bingregory said...

That's a good question! Have you read G WIllow Wilson's Cairo? That's really the space her graphic novel fills - an appealing action adventure set in a world where Islam is true.

Aside from that there is not much... I remember a comic book, like a graphic novel maybe, that had Gog and Magog and the Sleepers of the Cave among other islamic themes wrapped into the story. I came across it when I was maybe 13. It was the first time I'd ever heard of Gog and Magog and only many years after the fact did I put two and two together that the book was drawing from Islamic sources. Sure wish I could remember the title or something.

You could argue that a movie like Seventh Voyage of Sinbad counts - there are jin, and the river of madness tastes like wine etc but that is a far cry from the sort of endorsement you see in a movie like The Last Crusade.

Abdul-Halim V. said...

Wow, thanks for the suggestions. I hadn't heard of Cairo. I'm going to have to check it out the next time I go into a comic book store.

I'm not sure which graphic novel has Gog and Magog and the sleepers of the cave. My first thought is Kingdom Come by Alex Ross which has a character Magog but I'm thinking you were probably older than 13 when it came out? (although i could be wrong). Also Gog and Magog is actually common to all the Abrahamic eschatologies.

Actually if we want to include comic books, the 99 are in the middle of a crossover with the Justice League. And the Janissary is a supernatural character who is also a devout Muslim. There are also Muslim characters like Dust (a Marvel character and a mutant) and Nightrunner (who I literally learned about today. Batman has basically started a superhero franchise and Nightrunner is the "French Batman")

I totally didn't think about jinn! (I should have though. I recently picked up a copy of 1001 Arabian nights). Yeah, the Sinbad/Aladdin type of adeventures are probably the closest.

bingregory said...

Hah, Gog and Magog are in the Bible too! What do you know.

The comic I read would have been mid-80's, so Kingdom Come isn't it.