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Movie Review “Angels and Demons”

The film Angels and Demons is an interesting piece of art as the film truly captivates the audience. The film was directed by Ron Howard and produced by Brian Grazer. The film follows Robert Langdon, a fictional professor of cryptology who helps uncover the mysteries related to the crimes against the Church. Through subtle messages and the art of film directing, the movie allows the audience to reevaluate personal beliefs on faith, law, and liberty. These aspects of the film would be discussed in this paper through the introduction of different world views which could be unraveled.

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In the initial scenes, when Robert Langdon is flying with the representative of the Vatican’s police, a short conversation between the two proceeds. In this conversation, it is possible to perceive several worldviews. Mainly, the worldview that is being encouraged – a negative perception of faith and Christianity, which is quite popular among Hollywood films (Godawa, 2011a). This worldview is introduced by contrasting attitudes of the Vatican policeman and the main hero Robert Langdon. In the single line of dialogue, we see the overbearing attitude of the policeman and his blind faith in Christianity. He says that “if the Illuminati have returned and are in Rome, we will hunt them down and kill them” (Grazer & Howard, 0:14:30).

Although it is understandable that Illuminati, in this case, is criminals that kidnapped major figures of the Christian faith, this statement remains cruel. Especially so after the cryptologist Robert Langdon proceeds to defend Illuminati. His argument was that they were the first people to address inaccuracies of the Church’s teaching and “were dedicated to scientific truth” (Grazer & Howard, 0:14:46). In addition, Langdon stated that the Church was the first to initiate massive executions of the Illuminati, then the former started their retaliations. Consequently, Langdon demonstrates the worldview of modern individuals as his values are filled with the search for factual truths and denounce violence. Therefore, it is evident that the film is trying to appeal to the audience with this contrast and establishes the foundation for demonizing the efforts of Christianity.

However, the aspect of the Church’s demonization is solidified in the final scenes of the movie when the audience is given a big reveal. The reveal or climax of the movie is that there was no Illuminati but only an insatiable desire for power within the Church. This scene also renders the faith of believers as blinding as Camerlengo claims that his actions were dedicated to the Church and God. In addition, these scenes are interrelated with the worldview of postmodernism. Postmodernism reviews the world from the skeptical perspective stating that the truths that accompany the realities of the world are inaccessible (Myers & Noebel, 2016a). In the final scene, as the new pope, Camerlengo Patrick should have been chosen because of his heroic act. However, the narrative soon follows the fact that Camerlengo was the one who instigated all of the gruesome events by fabricating the Illuminati.

The events portrayed in the film point to the denial of faith. essentially stating that despite the fact that some of the church members are good-natured people it is undeniable that they are ignorant and hypocritic and contain villainous individuals. Blind faith is often preferred to the truth, this kind of world view is often incorporated in the filmmaking in combination with the exploration of the relationship between faith and science (Godawa, 2011b). The negative effects of blind faith are seen from the policeman that shot the head of the Swiss Guard instead of the movies’ antagonist, simply on the account of his authority in the church. This movie disregards the importance of faith by downplaying the historical portrait of the church and introducing the doubt to the audience. The solid agnosticism of Professor Langdon and his heroification also contribute to this denial as the audience which tends to follow the example of protagonists is encouraged. Consequently, the movie convinces the audience that faith is dangerous and unnecessary construct in the modern world.

Another point of view depicted in the film is legal positivism both within the Church and its law enforcement agencies. This worldview is revealed through the dialogue with Cardinal Strauss about the evacuation of the citizens and the overbearing attitude of the local police. The cardinal is convinced that the rituals should stand above the prioritization of the people’s lives. He is determined to avoid the scandals which might emerge from the media. Therefore, he decided to continue with the conclave enclosure and stated his disapproval of common sense to evacuate citizens. Simultaneously, when Patrick McKenna tries to convince the cardinal, he interrupts Patrick by saying that people in St. Peter’s Square “Care deeply about their Church as we do” (Grazer & Howard, 0:30:43). Thus, referring to the symbolization of legal positivism in the film. Legal positivism argues that the laws are determined based on the authority of those that dictate them. In the case of the film, the law is represented in religious beliefs and the authority of religious officials that enforce them (Myers & Noebel, 2016b). As a result, we see the continuation of Christianity’s demonization in the indirect statement that Church is the law.

From the political perspective, the movie also seems to support libertarianism. Libertarianism is the political philosophy that dictates that the freedom and liberty of individuals should not be restrained while they do not marginalize the freedom of others (Myers & Noebel, 2016c). This aspect of the film could be seen in multiple scenes such as the act of doctor Vetra stealing a relic document from the sacred archives of the Church; partial destruction of the library to save the life of the security member and doctor Langdon; or when Vetra attempted to enter the building where Raphael’s tomb was supposed to be.

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In conclusion, the film demonstrates several worldviews that depict different realities of the world. For example, skeptical postmodernist view on the truths of things; libertarianism view with the elevation of human liberty and encouragement of the free will; demonized view on Christianity and blinding power of faith which are seen as abominations of the human society along with legal positivism towards the religious beliefs and acts. These perspectives help to develop the film’s depth and thrill, the satisfaction the audience receives from perceiving the ultimate truth, which is often hidden, is immense. Therefore, it is possible to say that the film is entertaining. However, it also negatively portrays the power of religion and glorifies some of the actions that are not typically seen as heroic. These actions include the excessive free will of the protagonists in the guidance of the investigation questioning of the law enforcements’ professionalism, which in the real world could lead to serious consequences. Consequently, the film demonstrates the hidden power of media in the guidance of fragile minds as after watching the film, the audience under deep impression might reevaluate some of the personal beliefs.

References

Calley, J. (Producer), Grazer, B. (Producer), Howard, R. (Producer; Director). (2009). Angels and Demons [Motion picture]. United States: Columbia Pictures, Imagine Entertainment, Skylark Productions, Panorama Film Studios.

Godawa, B. (2011). Chapter 8: Christianity. In Hollywood worldviews: Watching films with wisdom & discernment. essay, Readhowyouwant.com Ltd.

Godawa, B. (2011). Chapter 9: Faith. In Hollywood worldviews: Watching films with wisdom & discernment. essay, Readhowyouwant.com Ltd.

Myers, J., & Noebel, D. A. (2016). Chapter 7: Postmodernism. In Understanding the times: A survey of competing worldviews. essay, Summit Ministries.

Myers, J., & Noebel, D. A. (2016). Chapter 14: Law. In Understanding the times: A survey of competing worldviews. essay, Summit Ministries.

Myers, J., & Noebel, D. A. (2016). Chapter 15: Politics. In Understanding the times: A survey of competing worldviews. essay, Summit Ministries.

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