film and theology ::. (warning: a king arthur analysis)
there have been several good movies released since the passion that christians ought to go check out. the wife and i saw king arthur last night. now, i’m very into the king arthur legend and the order of knighthood, so much that i will probably fire-brand all our kids as a result. going into this movie i purged all my childhood notions of knights, sorcery and love triangles and put on an analytical hat. the movie attempted be a historical epic about arthur and stayed close to some of the assumptions made about this mysterious king but the truth is no one really knows who he is. there’s just too little information to establish it as fact. the tale here is demystified and placed in its possible historical context close to the fall of the roman empire circa 5th/6th century.
i think there are many things that a uninformed viewer would miss about this film. you may be asking at this point if i liked it. well, honestly, i think it’s braveheart ultra-lite with all the cries for “freedom” but there’s more here than meets the eye here. interestingly, there were some rather strong references to faith and the roman church. arthur himself prays for his men and most often finds himself at odds with the church and his pagan knights throughout the movie.
there is a thread that holds the story together. that is, the strong relationship between arthur and pelagius, the brit monk that was at odds with augustine and teaching declared heresy. in church history, pelagius held different views of man, original sin, and grace all of which are depicted here. what we end up with is a humanistic view of man and of the will that cries, “win your freedom” even if it means laying your life down for an unjust cause.
we do need to observe the felt angst of the world against the roman church in the film and in our world. it is a grievance not because of the Gospel but because of power and greed. all these themes still resonate today and should alert us to wake up. if anything, we ought sense the desperate need to indeed share the Gospel and let our actions declare His glory, that is, testify to the risen Christ, more than ever.
it seems like director, antoine fuqua (tears of the sun), has found a niche for long movies about questionable missions and men of interesting morality. however, king arthur is enjoyable and like tears of the sun, could have been taken much further. someday, we should watch a bunch of these contemporary epic war movies in chronological order — troy, gladiator, king arthur, braveheart, saving private ryan, tears of the sun etc…