Hollywood is often criticized for turning out mindless movies and creating a culture where celebrity is worshipped over positive human achievement. Moviemaking, like everything else is a business, and if promoting wisdom in the world would be more profitable than titillation they would do it.
But over the years I have gained a new appreciation of Hollywood and its talents. Because even within the art of pure entertainment, the movie industry has nailed down a great but forgotten truth. Screenwriters, directors, and actors have become adept at expressing the ontological truth that humans have two realities.
One reality consists of the outward behavior and action we show to the world. The other reality consists of the inner motives we keep hidden from view. Screenwriters have learned to creatively express this duality of character as the text and the subtext.
The text involves what a particular character is literally saying, while the subtext consists of all the clues the audience is being given to reveal what the character really intends. (In the everyday world we call this deeper dynamic of personality one’s “hidden agenda.”) I know from having written a complete screenplay myself that expressing this double reality is the big challenge of the craft.
So even a crappy movie, with seemingly no redeeming values, can communicate powerful hidden knowledge – the fact that this inner world of subtext portrays who we really are.
In the movie Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart is first introduced to the audience as playing chess with himself. This is a creative way of depicting an internal struggle that he was dealing with (a struggle that was apparent throughout the movie).
Sometimes creative writers and directors will use the set itself to reveal the nature of the inner quality of a character. In other words, expressing a psychological feature through the physical features of the environment that a particular character dwells in. For instance, in The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy, Toto, the Lion, Scarecrow and Tin Man find themselves in a dark, spooky forest when the wicked witch’s flying monkeys descend on them. This is also why monsters in horror movies hang out in misty bogs, dark caves, and graveyards and mostly come out at night.
The idea of two realities was taken even further in the movie, Never-ending Story. In this movie, children were magically transported into the interior world of the collective human consciousness. Because humanity as a whole was losing its interest in fantasy and imagination, the children found themselves in a world threatened by destruction. It was shrinking because of the shrinking interest in fantasy by adults.
The very ground and landscape of this magical world represented a belief system. The profound insight here is that the principles we choose, support and provide the ground for our inner reality.
Hollywood, by expressing the dual nature of human reality, has actually uncovered the secret to God’s ultimate revelation!
Imagine for a moment that we could all magically enter into a world whose features were the creative expressions and metaphors of our spiritual reality. What if we happened to choose to enter this enrapturing world at a moment in time when our heart and mind was in a state of denial towards God’s tenets, preferring our own prudence and self-guidance? What if we suddenly found ourselves listening to a tricky serpent, biting into an apple, and being removed from a most beautiful garden?
The narratives of Scripture (like a Hollywood screenplay) focus their creative story-telling style on the subtext, and the deeper realities of human motivation. Therefore, the hidden, inner world of the human heart and mind is the focus (ground zero) of salvation itself.
What else would a loving God be concerned with?