Dianne Glave: Ministry & Church

Archive for the ‘film’ Category

PBS’s Sherlock: What no Redemption for EVIL Moriarty?

I shouldn’t say this but I will: Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes’ meanest baddest adversary, is one of my favorite characters on television and film. I root for Sherlock too because he’s one step away from being the meanest baddest too, perhaps a mirror of Moriarty’s evil nature. So you ask, WHY?

Sherlock Holmes has become part of our modern mythology, much like the Greek gods and goddesses of ancient times. Moriarty is the twentieth and twenty-first century Hades, the Greek God of the underworld. Does it get more evil than Hades? Yup, Moriarty.

So can Moriarty be redeemed? I keep hoping so though I’ve seen many incarnations where he never comes back from the evil edge.

I’ve seen many incarnations on television. There’s the Moriarty in Star Trek: Next Generation. This Moriarty was not redeemed. Don’t remember? Take a look:

Being a sentient holographic image FOREVER is worse than death!

I gladly revisited Moriarty this weekend because of PBS’s Sherlock. Briefly, I went back mentally to the Sherlock Holmes in black and white films of the 1930s and 1940s starring Basil Rathbone,  the more recent incarnation starring Robert Downey, Jr and the television show House loosely based on Holmes. All of the versions, except House who was actually a Sherlockian Moriarty, had their own glorious Moriarty. No happy ending . . . No redemption . . . At least for Moriarty.

I have to say though that PBS’s version has been the most compelling because this Moriarty is damaged, co-dependent, attention-seeking, and oh so crazy. He is Jim Moriarty. He’s the CRAZY uncle, the engine that drives the dysfunctional family; strangely, even in his nuttiness he’s missed when he skips the family BBQ.

I was hoping by the end of the second season of PBS’s Sherlock, that THIS Moriarty would be redeemed. Partly, because Moriarty’s co-dependency was fueled by Sherlock’s desperate need to have a sibling in which they mirrored one another’s sadness, mental illness, and brilliance. Ying and Yang, with Sherlock’s crazy Ying, one block from Jim’s nutty self-absorbed Yang.

And partly because I so wanted Moriarty to live on, to be redeemed even when I know in EVERY version of Sherlock vs. Moriarty that Moriarty has to go, I mean die. Don’t we all deserve redemption? Would it be the worst thing in the world to re-write some of the greatest mysteries written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle where the bad guy, where Jim Moriarty finds some grace, justification, and sanctification? I’m all for it.

Watch both seasons of Sherlock even though you know the answer. Season 1 is available on DVD. Sherlock is compelling TV.

The Film Drive: On Sacrifice and Christ


The film Drive looks like the typical car chase movie on the surface. We have so many predecessors in this tradition including the film The French Connection from 1971. Much like that classic film, there were no tricked out 21st Century special effects in the driving scenes in Drive. It is straight old school cops and robbers car chases.

Dig deeper though and there are biblical metaphors. The principal character is simply Driver. I’m not sure if his name is even uttered in the film. He’s a mystery. He’s a type of Christ. Driver lives a lonely solitary life until he connects with Irene and her son Benecio–both neighbors. As Driver moves deeper into relationship with mother and son, he selflessly sacrifices more and more for them, much like Christ did on the cross for humanity. There are numerous examples in the film. Driver puts his love to the side for Irene when her husband Standard gets out of jail. Driver agrees to be the driver for Standard for a pawnshop heist. Standard owes bad people protection money from when he was in jail. When Standard is murdered, Driver does everything in his power, including murder, to protect Irene and Benecio.

Towards the end of the movie, Driver makes the ultimate sacrifice: he gives up his life so that Irene and Benecio can live. Again, this mirrors Christ on the cross.

What’s interesting is we assume Driver has died at the hands of a gangster with a stab wound to the stomach. Without medical attention, the victim will quickly bleed out.

Suddenly, Driver is at the wheel.  He is pale. His eyes are closed. Then he blinks. Like Christ, Driver rises from the dead to the surprise of the viewer. The scene changes again and Driver is back on the road. He’s left Irene behind but she is safe since all of the bad guys who could have hurt her have been done away with by Driver.

The film, without looking at the metaphors, is compelling. The relationship Driver has with Irene and Benecio is complex, loving, and dark. Driver shifting between being a shutdown monster with being a boyfriend, a friend, and father-figure drives the film.

But when you add the biblical metaphors, the film becomes even richer.

Seven: Deadly Sins Depicted on Film

I had forgotten the visually stunning “Seven” (1995) until I watched it again on the American Movie Classics (AMC) channel. The film’s stars are Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Spacey.

The psychological thriller combines the genres of horror and film noir. The story-line focuses on a serial killer who murders based on the seven deadly sins of early Christian origin, which later evolved with Catholic theology and culture: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.

Galatians 5:19-20a (King James Version, KJV) comes closest to the list of seven: “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity,  idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger.” I often go back to the KJV for the poetry of it.

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