WOULD GOD DESTROY HOLLYWOOD (THE MODERN SODOM AND GOMORRAH) BUT FOR TEN GOOD MOVIES? #8 - Inherit the Wind (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1960), O̲v̲e̲r̲a̲l̲l̲ ̲G̲r̲a̲d̲e̲:̲ ̲A̲+̲ ************************************* PLOT: A film adaptation of the 1925 trial, The State of Tennessee vs. John Thomas Scopes, this Stanley Kramer production based on a play by the same name offers a fictionalized account of the legal, theological and personal aspects of the teaching of Charles Darwins theory of evolution in public schools within a Biblical society. ************************************* THEMES: 1) Christians vs. Christians— Scenes of fundamentalist Christians exorcising the theory evolution from other Christians will evoke humor in theistic Darwinians (I felt something between a chortle and a bellow [1]). And while defense attorney Henry Drummond proposes an obnoxious evolution meeting in opposition to the prayer meeting, he stills sees high school teacher Bertram Cates as suffering for a Christian cause (Lets face it: you did it for yourself; every saint is self-employed). 2) Foundation of St. Augustines De Genesi ad Litteram — Drummonds agnostic concession to Biblical interpretation (. . . . the first day, as recorded in the Book of Genesis, could have been a day of indeterminate length? I mean to state that it is not necessarily a 24-hour day. It could have been 30 hours. Could have been a week. Could have been a month. Could have been a year, 100 years. Or it could have been ten million years) is based on St. Augustines interpretation of Genesis (find that all the greenery of the field was created on the third day, before the sun was made on the fourth day,. . . . a spiritual day in the harmonious unity of the angels mutual companionship, is certainly not such as the one we are familiar with here[2]). 3) Afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted — The adage of E. K. Hornbeck of the Baltimore Herald perhaps offers another theological solution to evolution apart from scriptural interpretation, i.e. evolution comforts the afflicted (survivors find a niche) and afflicts the comfortable (existence is an ongoing struggle even for the strong). This phrase appears a few times and is arguably thematic. 4) US Courts and media are a powerful good — The discussions of Judge Mel Coffeys courtroom (Judge John T. Raulstonins 1925 courtroom in real life) provided significant insights on a topic unresolved from a 19th century British naturalists writings. I would argue that other theological topics related to the teaching of comparative religion (such as Joshuas miracle of the sun, Jonahs dramatic narrative, the method of divine revelation, etc., all topics relevant to other world religions also) could similarly be discussed in the courtroom and media. ************************************* ACTING: The film feels like a living text; we can almost see the actors thinking through these topics now –as they certainly were during filming. This is an American masterpiece. The historical accuracy of this film has been discussed elsewhere [3]; in and of itself though, the film stands as its own noteworthy judgment on the American understanding of religion and science. ************************************* Abrahams grade: Save Hollywood! Save the US courts and education system! ************************************* [1] Jürgen Trouvain, Segmenting phonetic units in laughter. Proceedings of the 15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences. Barcelona: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. 2003. [2] Augustine of Hippo, On Genesis, trans. Edmund Hill (New York, NY: New City Press, 2006), 278. [3] See: Randy Moore, Mark Decker, and Sehoya Cotner, Chronology of the Evolution-Creationism Controversy (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO Press), 2010.
Posted on: Wed, 26 Nov 2014 23:26:42 +0000

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