Life, film, faith & the Bible: 66 film clips described with thoughts and questions.
An extract from the book
Title: Pleasantville - Fires And Finn
Theme: The Incarnation
Bible references: John 1 vv 1-18; Philippians 2 vv 5-12: 1 John 1 vv 1-3
Location of clip: 48 mins 52 secs to 52 mins 32 secs
Bud loves 50's TV show Pleasantville. Life there is cleaner, brighter, safer, much more pleasant than life today. People are kinder, they do not swear and there is little violence. When Bud and his sister are given an unusual TV remote control gun it enables them to enter the TV and step into the show as characters. But Bud and his sister then make an interesting discovery. Life in Pleasantville may be rosy on the surface – but that’s all there is to it – the surface. It has no depth. It is shiny but shallow. There is an impressive library in the town, but open a book and there is nothing inside because people don’t read books on 50’s TV shows. Visit the bathroom and you’ll find there is no toilet – people would never do that in such a pleasant place. Bud inadvertently begins to lead some of the folk into a deeper life, a life with new things – passion, anger, frustration, creativity, love and colour. A broader, more complex life.
Bud arrives at the coffee shop where he is now working to find the place full of inquisitive students. The previous night Bud put out a fire that was blazing in a tree outside his house. The fire brigade were at a loss to know how to deal with the crisis as their usual callout is to rescue cats from rooftops. In fact, Bud has to cry out ‘Cat!’ in order to get them to leave their seats in the fire station, shouting out ‘Fire!’ meant nothing to them at all.
Pleasantville is a perfectly pleasant place, nothing shocking or frightening ever normally happens there. Fires just don’t occur.
In the coffee shop the students want to know how Bud knew about coping with such disasters.
Bud cautiously explains that he learnt this skill in the place where he used to live, a place where the roads don't just go around in circles, where rivers and highways run on forever. The students' eyes nearly pop, this is unknown territory to them.
One student presents Bud with a copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Bud flips through the pages, there is nothing on them. The books in Pleasantville are all empty inside their covers, they are just for show because no one really needs to use these things.
Bud slowly explains what happens at the end of the book, as he does so the pages fill up with words. Life in Pleasantville is changing, it will never be the same again.
Bud has stepped into Pleasantville from another world, from a place that is utterly different and beyond the comprehension of those in Pleasantville.
Bud opens their eyes to a world they never knew existed.
So did Jesus. He stepped in from another world, a world so different from ours. In fact as I read the gospels I can often see him standing there racking his brains thinking, ‘Okay, these people have no comprehension about this particular principal of the kingdom of God, how am I going to explain this one to them?’
Jesus came from a place so different to ours with the express purpose of introducing us to that world. A place of space, a place where the roads go on forever, a place where other things are possible, things currently beyond our experience or comprehension.
But like Bud he was cautious, he dressed his descriptions of the new kingdom in parables and called them secrets. He protected this costly knowledge so that those who would deride him could only scoff at his storytelling, they were not able to laugh at the precious pearls of the kingdom. He deliberately expressed the new principals in ways that required relationship with him, demanded dialogue, conversation with the Son of God.
In Pleasantville, as the occupants discover real things, like passion, anger, desire, love, ambition, their lives change from black and white to colour. So it is with the kingdom of God. For those with the courage to listen to and interact with the Storyteller, their lives will adopt all kinds of shades, some light, some dark, divine colours that will change them and their world forever.
1. Can you describe any experiences that have happened to you as a Christian, which, before following Jesus, would have been beyond your comprehension?
2. Are there any ways in which you find the other-worldliness of Jesus disturbing?
3. How can we help each other to keep that sense of wonder about the kingdom of God?
4. Jesus upset a few people, as Bud did in Pleasantville; how do you feel about the possibilities of upsetting others as you follow Jesus?
5. Did the clip make you think about anything else?