Thursday, January 1, 2015

Evil Can Be Pretty; Great (Wo)men Can be Deeply Flawed

There is an old movie that portrays evil as very seductive and handsome and convincing and suave and enticing - that evil personified can be indistinguishable from you and me based just on physical appearance - that it is easy to succumb and can be resisted only by single-minded focus on God. In one part, it also portrays evil as nearly universal - that the person who resists is the anomaly - that the world is hopelessly lost and ruled by powerful evil. In fact, I think such a message can't be ignored as one of the central themes of this particular movie. The "darkness" of the presentation style doesn't rival our more culturally popular movies (like The Dark Knight, for example), and the overall message leads to a happy ending, but the message of the section that deals directly with evil personified is fascinating.

One of the central protagonists succumbs to this evil and is saved from it only by the resistance of another protagonist who chooses consciously to thwart the evil by remaining with the other character in the continued presence of that evil in order to fight it together. Interestingly, I think many people who have seen this movie would classify the one who succumbed as the ultimate hero in the end - or, at least, just as much a hero as the one who stood fast in opposing the evil. However, I wouldn't say the film glorifies or celebrates evil in any way - even though it clothes it in such a "pretty package".

I think the idea that deeply flawed people who often fail in their struggles to resist temptation still can perform heroic acts and be respected and admired and loved because of it fits side-by-side with nearly all of the scriptural canon I try to read regularly - and I believe that is a central theme of the Atonement of Jesus Christ that is part of what we call the Restoration.  

I don't know exactly how Joseph Smith would feel about the movie I mention here in its current form, but I'm fairly certain he would understand those who view him similarly to what I just described in this paragraph - as a flawed man who did great things, nonetheless. In fact, what I have read leads me to believe that he would rather be characterized in this way than as an "idealized hero" - that he would prefer his own description of being a "rough stone rolling" to a romanticized version that describes him only in hushed terms and air-brushes away the thorns of his own flesh.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What's the movie?