Once again a Film by who else would but Mel Gibson, that labors for vesting an aura on a dubious Fundamentalist Sect. This makes an objective look at its fundamentals necessary to appreciate the film and its maker’ mind.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is the largest of several Adventist groups which arose from the Millerite movement of the 1840s in upstate New York, a phase of the Second Great Awakening. William Miller predicted on the basis of Daniel 8:14–16 and the “day-year principle” that Jesus Christ would return to Earth between the spring of 1843 and the spring of 1844. In the summer of 1844, Millerites came to believe that Jesus would return on October 22, 1844, understood to be the biblical Day of Atonement for that year. When this did not happen (an event known as the “Great Disappointment”), most of his followers disbanded and returned to their original churches.
In other words- one more of those apocalyptic cults, very much like Paul himself who started the whole enterprise and similarly revised the Arrival date after some hysterical waiting period- since the NT stated Christ said those present in his audience would be alive when he comes back- they instead kept dropping dead. The Waiting got extended.
The 7th Day Adventists however, revised the failed Arrival of Christ on October 22nd 1844. They eventually deduced that Jesus didn’t land on earth because he went into a low earth orbit like our Satellites. Really bright guys.
This Film is about one such brilliant 7th Day Adventist and a fundamentalist to the core, so much so that he cant bear arms as God forbade Killing, and chooses to exercise his Constitutional Rights as a Conscientious Objector.
Now where is the Conscience here? Its more of Fundamentalism taking advantage of Constitutional guarantee of America to its citizens that they can object to something otherwise mandatory if didn’t convince their hearts as right. It’s a protective device to make sure the letter of Law of the land doesn’t make acquiescence to its abuse in spirit of its writing.
Since fundamentalists are also evangelists, imagine an America which had lot more 7 th Day Adventists and such fringe fundies- where almost everyone will refuse to bear a gun and fight for the country? Or fight crimes in the Police force. Because it ‘violates a Commandment’.
Also consider the humbug about killing when Jesus himself has no qualms about killing when it came to denying his special status among the deities in the world-
New American Standard Bible
“But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence.”
Now what do you do with this dude? His arrival is what you are waiting? And all this fuss about bearing arms to defend your nation is all about such obviously quirky and nonsensical words that make no coherent moral sense?
Take for instance the 10 Commandments over one which this film bases its glorification of religious Fundamentalism and literalist readings of scriptures like the Bible-
How did the 7th day Adventist got to know about the Commandment of God not to kill ?
By reading it in the bible! Bright kid you got that right. So now read fully how these 10 Commandments written in stone tablet were obtained and what was done as soon as it were obtained-
The stone Tablet of Commandments were obtained from mountain top Close encounters of the bizarre kind by a quasi Egyptian quasi militant mystic called Moses after starving for 40 days. Imagine his mental state after starving for so long.
No wonder he reports after coming down from his meeting a ‘ wrathful and jealous’ entity that identifies itself for the first time as Yahweh, that he was given a parting gift of stone tablets with Laws.
The Law in this Film Not to kill was one among the 10.
Before he could have any breakfast, – he next flies into rage over the other Law in the tablet that prohibits all Religious freedom- there cant be other Bosses around.
So Moses immediately demonstrates how the Laws must be practiced-
“You should not kill Mr Moses”. “Yes, but you are worshipping gods other than the one whom I just met”
Moses looks at his heavily armed Levite soldiers and they do a mini ethnic cleansing slaughtering 3000 of the people he caught violating a Law written in stone tablet- that no one can know till they read them.
Over 3000 people were put to the sword that very late evening- and what happens to the law this film makes much ado about?
Just in case some character in bible episode of this story might ask him, Moses conveniently smashes and breaks the stone tablets!
Now no one can be sure what was in it? It never stops amusing you isn’t it?
So you have Moses who breaks his own self proclaimed laws which none could possibly have verify because he according to story instantly smashed it and broke it to pieces.
Assuming the laws was faithfully recounted- Moses clearly slaughters people after obtaining the very Laws that prohibit Killing by humans.
Here is where films like this get dangerous- the Law that prohibits any worship of any other deity than this Moses says he met on the Sinai mountain top, gets invoked superseding the Law that prohibits killing.
We have the entire Church history and all its atrocities done including numberless wars and genocides- starting from the great Witch Hunt, which alone meant 3 million poor women, put to death.
We can see for the Fundamentalist there is obviously no contradiction here over killing humans over their religious beliefs. Moses cannot be the source of the Law not to kill after a good massacre he did soon as he revealed them? Jesus also emphasized he came not break the Law but Uphold it?
He too talks like Al Bagdadi asking those who refuse his kingdom to be brought before him and be killed in front of him?
None of this will make a straight reading without much fundamentalist theological ‘explaining’ it away, which explains nothing.
Either God said Don’t kill or he didn’t. Moses killed 3000 of his own people for worshipping false gods.
If the above two makes perfect sense, we also need to fuss a lot about “God’s Prohibition of killing” in modern times, and cant bear arms. In Moses’ own times that wasn’t a problem for him!
If this makes sense, then consider the International Red Cross if you still want to help with war efforts without bearing arms.
No- we will enlist in regular Army and in a combat Unit, and legally fight for Constitution Rights over Conscientious objector against some killing Moses had no qualms about?
Hey what are you trying to prove here Mr Gibson?
What else? The horrific mumbo jumbo of Fundamentalist beliefs are glorified through skillfully shot war action footage, so that more people start seeing the otherwise crazy fringe as some kind of morally elevated stuff.
For good measure to avoid glaring inconsistencies, this 7 th Day Adventists have other bizarre taboos-
Blood transfusion and organ grafts- which had resulted in so many un necessary deaths and preventable mishaps.
Gibson white washes this at film beginning so that this creepy matter doesn’t crawl into his hero’s glorification- his hero allegedly doesn’t practice that particular taboo.
Gibson also avoids showing about another such taboo- saluting the national flag. He had picked from the Military Honor’s list a decorated 7th Day Adventist, who ‘was a conscientious objector’ over this silly taboo, then inserted some myth and make believe interviews with veterans as after shots.
In those veterans interview- the real life hero talks about how what kept him going- he prayed for ‘one more’ badly hurt comrade to pull to safety. And then one more.
He was we must believe a Terminator in reverse, immune to enemy gun fire and miraculously provident.
What Gibson succeeds however, is to create a Marvel comic superman- who looks like Norman bates in Psycho.
For who else but super heroes can go to war in a combat unit, refusing to bear arms as a matter of principle, but still want to do ‘his bit for his country’ whatever that means, should also mean helping with killings- and is unscathed ‘miraculously’ while more hard trained soldiers get torn to bits in realistically shot machine gun fire and blown to bits limb by limb, frame by frame.
Then our Norman bates keeps grinning through all this live fire and hand to hand combat, goes from one pit to the other, ‘armed’ with his morphine injection pen’!
He then drags the left behind company of badly wounded men. One after the other as Japs advance checking survivors among heap of the fallen, bonneting the bodies.
He keeps praying and praying- asking his God ‘to just give one more”-for him to ‘save’ by dragging then back to their front line base –
While there are mountains of bodies all around!
Gibson’s hero seems to relish all the gore around, simply as an occasion to be an angel- never mind the already dead- just the half dead, the more gruesome the injury the better.
And all this with a remarkable grin on his face- that somehow reminds me of Norman bates.
“God just give me one more”- “Alrighty son, take it”-
“God I just asked for 1 more…not one more truck load of bodies”