R for violence and demonic images.
Feb. 18, 2005
Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Max Baker, Djimon
Hounsou, Tilda Swinton
‘Constantine’ Movie Stuffs
Comic With Christianity
By Cliff Vaughn
Culture Editor for EthicsDaily.com
- The new movie Constantine, based on the Hellblazer comic
book, derives its drama—and special effects—from life’s
most central questions and themes.
But don’t expect a theological treatise or an in-depth exploration
of God’s nature. Constantine is 1 percent theology and
99 percent Hollywood entertainment.
The movie, which opened nationwide Feb. 18, centers around John Constantine
(Keanu Reeves), a man who took his own life as a youth out of despair
for his “gift”: being able to see demons who walk the earth
in human form.
Constantine was revived, however, and now he wanders the earth, trying
to earn his way back into heaven by blowing Satan’s minions back
to the underworld.
In addition to the notion that an attempted suicide bars a soul from
entering heaven, other story points—like how one battles demons,
or the personality of the angel Gabriel—take Hollywood license with
Shia LaBeouf, who plays Constantine’s apprentice, said audiences
shouldn’t take the movie too seriously.
“I don’t think this movie was made to push ideas or philosophies
on anybody. It’s a fun ride,” LaBeouf told religious press
covering the movie recently in Beverly Hills, Calif. “There’s
a lot of aspects to the film where there’s probably a lesson in
the film, but I don’t necessarily think anybody’s walking
about from the film going, ‘Wow, that’s right and you know
what, now I’m going to change my life because of that.’”
“I don’t think that was the purpose of making the film,”
LaBeouf continued. “It’s not The Passion of the Christ
that we made.”
Francis Lawrence, the movie’s director, said even though the movie
is make-believe, “this stuff is very, very serious to a lot of people,
so I think you have to be cautious and be respectful.”
The movie’s visual style and iconography, of sorts, are grounded
in Catholic Christianity, though familiarity with Catholicism is not a
prerequisite for following the story, according to Lawrence.
“You don’t have to be Catholic to relate because there’s
these really broad ideas that I think work for a lot of people—spiritually
or philosophically,” he said.
“I think of it as just secular religiosity,” Reeves said
of the movie’s general tone. He referred to what he considered general
ideas of God and the devil, heaven and hell, good and evil.
“I was hoping that these concepts could become a platform that
are humanistic, that this kind of journey of this particular hero is hopefully
relatable,” he told journalists.
Furthermore, Reeves said he didn’t necessarily see his character
in mostly spiritual terms.
“Spirituality is a word that I really don’t feel is something
to apply to Constantine,” he said. “And if it is, then it’s
very humanistic—as it always is, obviously. It’s more flesh
and blood somehow than spiritual.”
Rachel Weisz, a 33-year-old Brit who plays Constantine’s ally in
the film, told journalists the movie combines the serious with the special
“It’s a Hollywood movie, it’s entertaining and scary
and all those things, but it’s set within a universe where really
important questions are asked,” Weisz said. “But they’re
very serious themes and questions housed within what is undoubtedly an
entertaining Hollywood movie, and I don’t see why one can’t
Guide: Constantine's subject matter of God, the devil, angels, and
demons can provide an avenue to share your faith. Read more in this Bible
Study Guide that is based on the movie.
us what you think. Join the conversation about this film on our message
More movie reviews on CBN.com
Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.
Copyright 2005 by EthicsDaily.com.
Used with permission.
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