Monday, February 25, 2008

southern gothic

Yesterday i saw Monster's Ball. I haven't seen that film in years. Totally had forgotten how Christian the thing is. It's up there with The Apostle, Tender Mercies, Come Early Morning, Miss Firecracker, and a few others as really great spiritual stuff happening in everyday working class settings.

Of course, there are sexual and racial issues in some of this stuff...and I'm not saying that all movies about southerners dealing with their spirituality is free from racism....but these truly are films that delve into grace, persevereance, soul-searching and Christian spirituality.

Of course there are other great films out there that deal with spirituality: A prayer for the Dying, Festen, and the like. And I have to see the film The Bad Lieutenant one of these days (weird sex scenes and all). But what I like about this Southern Gothic thing is the way the authors just unabashedly drop you into the characters' spiritual world. That takes a lotta balanced world-building. The screenwriter has to show a possibly unlikable character (to American viewers who seem to have been trained to judge the likeability of story characters), the writer has to show how the character's religiousness exists side-by-side with the characters' crappy sinful traits. This is often tough because religious readers/viewers are always ready to judge religious characters and reject them for either doctrinal or behavioral reasons. And it's also tough because non-religious people are always ready to see Christians as deluded evil hypocrites anyway. The writer might also have to put in some supernatural stuff into the novel. And all this has to be shown in a casual normal natural way.

I'm glad I saw it. It's inspiring me with my present Work-in-Progress, the novel presently called Inheritance. Am trusting God I can carry it off.
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