December 24, 2006
FROM THE ARCHIVES: THIS WEEKEND'S OTHER WORTHY FLICK:
-INTERVIEW: Todd Komarnicki: Producer, Director, Writerï¿½and Believer: The producer of Elf explains how his Christian faith affects his career as a Hollywood producer, director, and writer. (Jeffrey Overstreet, 11/13/2003, Christianity Today)
There is an interesting issue dividing Christian film critics' reviews over the new holiday comedy Elf. Some go so far as to call it a "perfect holiday movie" that "promot[es] biblical concepts." Others are frustrated that "spirituality is notably absent." It all comes down to whether or not the critic thinks Santa Claus is a meaningful metaphor, or if Jolly Old Saint Nick needs to surrender his throne and change his theme song to "Baby Jesus is Coming to Town." (See Film Forum's review roundups from this week and last week.)
But Elf's producer argues that the gospel message is reflected in this whimsical world of make-believe. [...]
For a lot of moviegoersï¿½Christians includedï¿½Christmas fairy tales are a meaningful and enjoyable part of the holiday tradition. But there are those who think fairy tales cheapen Christmas. The snowmen, the reindeer, Santa. Elf does not make direct references to the real story of Christmas, and some Christian film critics have a problem with that. Do you think Elf and other such Christmas fairy tales are damaging?
Not if they tell the truth! One of the things that is beautiful about a good fairy tale is that it reflects the truth. The truth that Elf reflects is about giving and innocence and learning to live sacrificiallyï¿½to put others first. That's the story of Christmas. It reflects the truth of Christmas.
We have a savior who was a storyteller, [so] I think there is great value in story. Jesus almost never said exactly what his thought was straight out. He was always couching it in metaphor and simile, so that people would thinkï¿½to engage them and to engage their imagination, to see the context in which they were living. Story does that. I think it's a very powerful tool. Certainly, like any tool, it can be misused, but I think Elf is a really strong example of a beautiful fairy tale that by its nature ends up reflecting the truth. The writer didn't set out to reflect the gospel. But, in telling a beautiful fairy tale from his own heart and in reflecting a lot of Christmas movies that he had loved, he wound up reflecting the gospel.
Got an e-mail this week informing us that One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest couldn't be a Christian allegory because Ken Kesey wasn't a Christian. Folks have also complained that Cool Hand Luke is just a prison story. Just goes to show how right Albert Jay Nock was:
[V]ery few literate persons are able to read, very few indeed. This can be proven by observation and experiment of the simplest kind. I do not mean that the great majority are unable to read intelligently; I mean that they are unable to read at all--unable, that is, to carry away from a piece of printed matter anything like a correct idea of its content. They are more or less adept at passing printed matter through their minds, after a fashion, especially such matter as is addressed to mere sensation, (and knowledge of this fact is nine-tenths of a propagandist's equipment), but this is not reading. Reading implies a use of the reflective faculty, and very few have that faculty developed much beyond the anthropoid stage, let alone possessing it at a stage of development which makes reading practicable.
-INTERVIEW: Big Screen Vision: The producer of Elf shares the Christian hope that drives his filmmaking. (Christian Reader, November/December 2003)
-REVIEW: of Elf (Jeffery Overstreet, Looking Closer)
[originally posted: 2003-11-14]Posted by Orrin Judd at December 24, 2006 12:02 AM