Tag Archives: Media

A film for Atheists

The Mist, based on a Stephen King novella, is advertised as your usual plot-less monster movie, however, it proves to be far more than that. It is a psychological thriller with an obvious Religious social commentary, and as much about the monsters within as those outside ourselves.

Stephen King:
But the story of “The Mist,” in the background, there’s this idea that the military has been fooling around with something that’s too big for them, and has torn an actual hole in the fabric of reality, and these awful creatures from another dimension have come through.

In another part of the story, there’s a religious zealot, Mrs. Carmody, who’s in the market, and to begin with she’s sort of a figure of fun. Because everybody’s pretty well solemnly grounded, and nobody’s worried about anything. But once the disaster strikes, Mrs. Carmody gets a weird power. And certainly we’ve seen this time and time again in our own lives, that as the situation worsens, in various parts of the world, the religious fanatics have a tendency to become more and more powerful.

What we see is a very clear devolution in many of the characters and the worse it gets, the stronger the foothold of the religious fundamentalist Mrs. Carmody. Eventually, she presents herself as being in direct communication with God.

Only about 10 people remain who do not turn to Religion for comfort in their times of need. It is implied that the majority of these 10 are secular. At some point, one of them named Ollie says, “As a species we’re fundamentally insane. Put more than two of us in a room, we pick sides and start dreaming up ways to kill one another. Why do you think we invented politics and religion?”

Ollie: [Mrs. Carmody is preaching to her ‘cult’ and they’re repeating expiation] Welcome to Sesame Street, kids. Today’s word is ‘expiation’.

Perhaps because the absurd appeals to my sense of humour, I found most of this film comedic. Frankly, I am surprised Hollywood has produced a film of this nature. The religious criticism is very thick. Many reviews depict the movie as bleak, depressing, nihilistic and so forth and condemn the ending as unnecessarily ‘unfair’ and especially sadistic.’ The film is controversial in part, because of the number of suicides.

The ending is rather graphic but not gratuitous. The blood is there for the purpose of letting you know what has transpired. It is emotional, without needing to zero in on the dead bodies. As Stephen King stated in an interview, it was the necessary and logical ending to the film. It is realistic. It is what people do when they do not have the luxury of seeing into the future, and can only infer based on the evidence available. Difficult decisions must be made.

In extreme end-of-the-world scenarios, very rarely are there happy endings. I commend the film for not taking the easy way out, and creating a standard everyone-lives-happily-ever-after ending.

This film is definitely a must see.

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