catapult magazine

catapult magazine




Jul 10 2003
05:22 am

I’ve been looking at some of the discussion on this topic, and I think that some of the problem here stems from a misunderstanding of what this film “Adaptation” is really all about. Some seem to think that the film was fundementally un-Christian. I disagree.

It’s true that the film does exclude God, choosing to focus instead on a much smaller human world. But the film also contains some profound truths, and all truth is God’s truth. It’s also true that the film is quite post-modern. But “Adaptation” defies postmodernism, too.

Allow me to explain. The main idea of the film can be summed up in one word: story. And the idea of story is a Christian one. When we tell stories, what we’re doing is taking the elements of life and making them go somewhere, making the seemingly random events move toward a conclusion, finding meaning in everyday life. Now, why should we be able to do that, to create order out of the chaos? The Christian knows that we can do that because we have a God who unites all things in heaven and earth in his own story, that is, the story of Creation, Fall, and Redemption.

In the beginning of the film, Charlie was trapped in decidedly non-Christian view of storytelling. Sure, he didn’t want to make The Orchid Thief into “A Hollywood thing” and that’s good, but he also didn’t want to make it a movie where people “learn profound life lessons or change their lives” (I’m paraphrasing here). In essence, what he wanted to do was tell a non-story story, something where events have no significance. It’s a post-modern view of storytelling, in my view—films and literature that cloak themselves in so much irony that they become almost meaningless. And, as Charlie admits to McKee later in the film, this is not just a problem in the way he approaches storytelling, it’s a problem in the way he lives his life. It’s a non-Christian way of looking at the world, thinking that events are essentially meaningless, life just a collection of random events and humans just trapped in the middle of it all.

Charlie’s redemption, however, comes when he goes to the McKee seminar and has his world turned upside down. Things do happen in real life, he realizes, and events do have significance. Although God isn’t mentioned this is definitely, in my eyes, a Christian view of storytelling, for who gives events significance if not God? And when Charlie tells a story, giving meaning to everyday life, sending characters toward a resolution, is he not imaging the God who tells the greatest story of all.

And I loved the last shot. I thought immediately of Jesus’ words: “Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.” We, like the flowers and trees and animals and all other things in creation, are constantly Adapting under God’s watchful eye, moving forward in this great story to a glorious ending, when Christ returns and makes the crooked straight.