Friday, July 07, 2006

The New Church of the Masses

"Theatres are the new Church of the Masses--where people sit huddled in the dark listening to people in the light tell them what it is to be human."(1930's theatre critic)

I got this quote from Barbara Nicolosi's blog, and I used it today because last night, or this morning rather, I truly experienced the new "Church of the Masses."

My sister and I went to the midnight showing of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, and while the movie was all in all fairly entertaining, it wasn't spectacular, or life-changing, and to be perfectly honest, like any other inner-meaning-less action movie, I'm going to forget it by next week. What I really took away from it, though, and the point of me writing about it, was the experience of simply being there.

I mean, it's the midnight showing; these people are either die-hard fans, parents who don't want their children out late by themselves, people who want to hang out with their friends (my sister), or people who go so that their sister can go (me). Needless to say, the movie was sold out to a 90% die-hard category audience. Now, I have to admit, I did not see the first "Pirates" until over a year after its initial release. Furthermore, I had all but completely forgotten its plot and/or key points. So with a large, highly caffeinated beverage, I sat down to watch the movie amidst a sea of people of all ages in eye patches, fake dreadlocks, and other miscellaneous pirate garb. And I sat there the entire time, because even though after that Dr. Pepper I had to use the restroom like no other, I had a feeling that if I got up and left, I would be bombarded with the fake swords and empty candy boxes of die-hards shouting "How dare you leave! You don't deserve that ticket!"

Keeping in mind that the show was at midnight, some friends of ours had been at the theatre since 8pm. By ten, they said, the theatre was fairly full. My sister and I arrived at 11:15, and I ended up sitting on the edge towards the front. The excitement in the auditorium was tangible, and to see so many people so happy about something, even though it was for a rather over-rated, over-advertised Disney production, made me feel some sort of hope. Hope that somewhere in the hearts of Americans, there is still the ability to live reality intensely.

As I watched these people watching this movie, a thought occurred to me: what movie would I get this excited about seeing? What movie would I completely and voluntarily choose to see at midnight? Maybe if "On the Waterfront" was re-released. Or if someone re-made "Ashes to Light." (*winks at John*) But seriously, I couldn't imagine ever getting so worked up over a movie that I would absolutely have to be the first one (in the general masses) to see it. So on one hand I'm happy that these people have a passion. But on the other I wish that they would have the same sort of passion for things in real life.

I guess what I'm taking a long time to say is that this new Church of the Masses and this new congregation is really the hope of America, in the sense that the art of film has the amazing potential to be used for evangelization. And while "Pirates 2" isn't the best example of people in the light telling us what it is to be human, there are many movies that do. And many movies can and will be made that will tell us. Because we need to be told.

The pulpit of America is a canvas screen, the pews are velour seats with cupholders, and the preacher is a roll of film passing in front of a projector, and this church where we so often go to escape reality is where so many times we end up finding it.

Here's to the great movies. Let them be made and seen.

1 comment:

Enbrethiliel said...


I love catching the last scheduled screening of a movie, too. :)