Dogma

culture

Dogma DVDIt's certainly not the first time I've seen it, but I watched Dogma again recently, and was reminded all over again what a great film it is. As you might imagine, a film by Kevin Smith (with all the attendant swearing and knob jokes involved)--about two outcast angels trying to get back into Heaven via a loop-hole in Catholic dogma--was hugely controversial. Given that it also featured a black 13th apostle (best friend of a black Jesus), a Muse now working in a lapdancing joint, and the great, great (etc.) grandniece of Jesus--oh, and "Alanis Morisette(Requires Flash)":https://www.alanis.com/main.html as God--the film was at the receiving end of a torrent of condemnation in the Catholic press. This is a great shame, since Kevin Smith is himself a devout Catholic, and even goes to the trouble of having a long disclaimer at the start of the film, explaining his views and the fact that he wasn't out to offend anyone. Personally, I can't see how anyone could find it blasphemous--in fact, I think that it rather celebrates Faith (as distinct from Religion). But then I'm not religious, so I'm perhaps not the best person to judge these things. Mr. Bsag on the other hand is a practising Catholic (admittedly a very laid-back and liberal one), and loves this film. He particularly treasures the line, "Leave it to the Catholics to destroy existence", and actually wants to have a 'Buddy Christ' figure[1].

As ever with a Kevin Smith film, the dialogue is the thing to treasure. In this one, there's an unusually complicated plot, so he has to do a fair bit of explaining through the dialogue rather than using action. This--and the frankly rubbish effects for the angels' wings--is the worst part of the film. The best bits are the militant Rufus (the black apostle, played by Chris Rock), who is really pissed off about being left out of the bible, Alan Rickman as The Metatron (the sarcastic Voice of God), and Jay and Silent Bob, who lower the tone nicely when it looks as if seriousness might break out.

It's also quite a thought-provoking film, as well as a very funny one. It makes some serious points about what religious leaders do in the name of religion, the role of Faith, and the importance of thinking rather than believing. There's also some clever verbal business concerning the gender of God, which makes quite a subtle point.

[1] This is part of the fictional 'Catholicism - WOW!' initiative to draw young people into the church, and features a grinning, winking Christ, doing a "Hey!" finger pointing hand gesture, rather than the usual crucifixion image.

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