Conservative Christian film-makers gut Pagan fable?
This seems to be a little story about yet another bad movie made from wonderful source material until you look a bit closer.
The Seeker: The Dark is Rising is a children’s fantasy film due for release early in October, courtesy of Walden Media. The original book on which it is ostensibly based was written By Susan Cooper in the 1970’s and set in Britain. Plot details aside; the story draws very heavily on pagan and pre-Christian elements from English, Welsh and Irish mythology. The basic Light and Darkness division that underpins the story openly predates Christian belief.
‘Rector, what on earth is it?’
Mr Beaumont had turned very white. There was a glistening of sweat on his forehead, though the church was very cold again now. ‘Nothing on earth, I think, perhaps,’ he said. ‘God forgive me.’ And he stumbled a few paces nearer the church door, like a man struggling through waves in the sea, and leaning forward slightly made a sweeping sign of the Cross. He stammered out, ‘Defend us thy humble servants in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in thy defence, may not fear the power of any adversaries…’
Farmer Dawson said very quietly but clearly from the group beside the door, ‘No, Rector.’
‘Poor brave fellow,’ said John Smith in the Old Speech. ‘This battle is not for his fighting. He is bound to think so, of course, being in his church.’
The rector stood up, his smooth, plump face creased in an effort to make sense of the incomprehensible. “Certainly it has gone,” he said, looking slowly round the church. “Whatever–influence it was. The Lord be praised.” He too looked at the Signs on Will’s belt, and he glanced up again, smiling suddenly, an almost childish smile of relief and delight. “That did the work, didn’t it? The cross. Not of the church, but a Christian cross nonetheless.”
“Very old, them crosses are, rector,” said Old George unexpectedly, firm and clear. “Made a long time before Christianity. Long before Christ.”
The rector beamed at him. “But not before God,” he said simply.
The interesting thing is the man who was chosen to direct this pagan fairy-tale. David L Cunningham is the son of a very prominent Christian conservative activist and the director of the ABC miniseries The Path to 9-11, which came under scrutiny for a perceived right-wing slant and several inaccuracies. Max Blumenthal reported in “The Nation” that Cunningham's Path to 9/11 had been heavily promoted by right wing activist David Horowitz and the conservative Liberty Film Festival and that ABC CEO David Iger had initiated a last-minute investigation and edit of the film.
The Path to 9-11 was the first production connected to a non-profit organization called The Film Institute, which Cunningham founded in 2004 with a number of alumni from his father’s unaccredited University of the Nations. The Film Institute seeks to infiltrate Hollywood and thereby change it from the inside. They are:
‘Dedicated to a Godly transformation and revolution TO and THROUGH the Film and Television industry. TO it, by serving, living humbly with integrity in what is often a world driven by selfish ambition, power and money – transforming lives from within, and THROUGH it, by creating relevant and evocative content which promotes Godly principles of Truth married with Love.’
‘One goal of TFI is to fast-track University of the Nations School of Digital Film interns, placing them within the film industry, so that they can begin to impact and transform Hollywood from the inside out.”’
In this they resemble the armies of Born-Again lawyers coming out of Bob Jones etcetera to battle against the separation of Church and state, only it’s Hollywood Babylon that they’re fighting and conservative political views are in the bag with that Bible.
I am Irish and read Ms Cooper’s lovely and very pagan books when I was a child. Pantheistic, they respect all belief-systems equally, shun violence and racism and cultivate a love of the British landscape.
The trailer for the film version has recently been released. Suffice to say that there remains no trace of the original novel and the spiritual and mythological elements that I mentioned have been assiduously excised; leaving only the Dark-Light division and an American boy hero wandering around waving crosses at demons. It promises to be a noisy, mean-spirited and commercial enterprise, complete with a foisted boy-girl love-interest to keep worried parents happy.
I’m not sure if this is the first story that has been deliberately vandalised by outspoken Christian activists rankling at Harry Potter or just a really poor adaptation of a great children’s book. Given Mr Cunningham’s and his institute’s stated objectives, it’s hard to see why he should be chosen to direct a non-Christian story other than to destroy it.
If such is the case, we can expect to see more of, if not political propaganda, then at least very bad art.