Friday, November 22, 2019


“There are two lives, the natural and the spiritual, and we must lose the one before we can participate in the other.” 
― William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience

Sharon (Mimi Rogers) explores the hedonistic side of life
with her buddy Vic in The Rapture

A hedonistic young woman named Sharon (Mimi Rogers) explores the decadent nightlife of swinging with her friend Vic (Patrick Bauchau). However, something important is brewing in the world! People are having dreams about the pearl! The rapture and the whole four horseman of the apocalypse are coming! Repent, sinner!

Sharon eventually finds Jesus, marries David Duchovny and has a daughter. A few years later, her husband is murdered. After that, she gets visions from God to go into the desert with her daughter. When God doesn't come, she kills her daughter so her offspring will ascend to heaven. She is grief stricken with what she has done, but guess what? The rapture really is coming! The horsemen are here and God only wants you to accept him and your ticket to heaven is stamped. But guess what? Sharon won't forgive God for what he pushed her to do to her daughter and the film finishes with her stuck in limbo "forever."

I can understand why The Rapture may have limited appeal. Christian viewers may be prone to reject it because Sharon ultimately rejects God. Secular viewers may find a literal Four Horseman of the Apocalypse coming as trite. I think the movie has balls in that it doesn't try to conform to anyone's expectations.

This is the third time I've seen this movie and it seems to come on my radar every ten years. I'll probably keep watching it about every ten years until I get raptured myself.

Sharon searches for God in the desert
in The Rapture

I have no basis whatever for my belief in God other than a passionate longing that God exist and that I and others will not cease to exist. Because I believe with my heart that God upholds all things, it follows that I believe that my leap of faith, in a way beyond my comprehension, is God outside of me asking and wanting me to believe, and God within me responding.
-Martin Gardner, Whys of A Philosophical Scrivener

 Johannes, the mad brother
in Ordet

Quote from the novel “Invisible” by Paul Auster.
If not for the end, Ordet would not have effected you any more than any other good film you’ve seen over the years. It is the end that counts, for in the end does something to you that is totally unexpected. And it crashes into you with all the force of an ax felling an oak.

The farmwoman who has died in childbirth is stretched out in an open coffin as her weeping husband sits beside her. The mad brother, who thinks he is the second coming of Christ, walks into the room holding the hand of the couple’s young daughter. As the small group of mourning relatives and friends looks on, wondering what blasphemy or sacrilege is being committed at this solemn moment, the would be incarnation of Jesus of Nazareth addresses the dead woman in a calm and quiet voice. “Rise up.” He commands her. “Lift yourself out of your coffin and return to the world of the living. Seconds later, the woman’s hands begin to move. You think it must be a hallucination that the point of view has shifted from objective reality to the mind of the addled brother. But no, the woman opens her eyes and just seconds after that she sits up, fully restored to life.

There’s a large crowd in the theater and half the audience bursts out laughing when they see this miraculous resurrection. You don’t begrudge them their skepticism. But for you, it is a transcendent moment. You sit there clutching your sister’s arm as tears role down your cheeks. What cannot happen has happened. You are stunned by what you have witnessed. Something changes in you after that. You don’t know what it is, but the tears you shed when you saw the woman come back to life seemed to have washed some of the poison that has been building up inside you.

My thoughts: The preceding passage was the reason I chose to see Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Ordet.

Will my reaction to viewing this film be like Adam Walker (Auster’s character) or like those in the audience who laugh at the unlikely resurrection?

Well, I didn’t laugh and even though I had already read about it in the book, I couldn’t believe Inger (the character in the film) was really going to come back to life. I can’t say my reaction was akin to Adam Walker’s, but the film (based on a play by Danish pastor Kaj Munk) was stirring. I actually felt different than Walker in that it was more than the end, it was the building towards the end. Brother number one’s loss of faith, brother number two’s overdose on Kierkegaard leading him to think he is Jesus of Nazareth and brother number three’s wish to marry a girl whose family's religion is not compatible with his are all important parts that must be understood to even appreciate the ending.

I've been doing this blog so long now, this is actually the second time I've seen Ordet, the first time being ten years ago now! I still can't figure out exactly why I like Ordet as much as I do. I can certainly understand how someone could find it quite sappy...yet somehow I don't find it that way. And I really love the mad brother (Johannes). His monotone will stay with me in dreams for some time to come. 

I thought Ordet would go well with The Rapture. God is alive in both films. In The Rapture, Sharon rejects God anyway because he led her to take away the life of her daughter. In Ordet, the husband embraces God because of the restoring of life to his wife...The varieties of religious experience indeed...Amen.

Death and resurrection
in Ordet

We must judge the tree by its fruit. The best fruits of the religious experience are the best things history has to offer. The highest flights of charity, devotion, trust, patience, and bravery to which the wings of human nature have spread themselves, have all been flown for religious ideals.” 
― William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience

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