Saturday, April 25, 2009

Movie Moments - I Want to Believe (X-Files 2)

(C) Copyright 2008 20th Century Fox

I Want to Believe... and I do!
by Eric Bumpus

I Want To Believe, the sophomore X-Files film and follow-up to the TV series, weaves another great post-modern tale about the love affair between Faith and Reason. As usual, the duality of Mulder's 'blind faith' and Scully's 'empirical science' play out within a nice parallel that culminates to a great finale of the series (at least currently -- I'm hoping for an X-Files III).

Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) takes great risk to save a child's life, even against the orders she's been given by the management at the Catholic hospital, in which she works as a surgeon. Still holding on to Science (but not in the same sense of solidarity that she once held), she suggests an unorthodox procedure (involving stem cells) that she believes will save her patient's life. The Hospital dismisses this, as they've already answered to "a higher authority" and they must not 'play God'. Scully offers up some great theological counter-points about God giving Science as a tool to help us discover and progress in medical practice.

Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) goes a bit out of character and plays the skeptic in this tale, as He and Scully investigate the kidnapping of several women, with the help of an ex-Catholic priest, Father Joseph Crissman (Billy Connolly), who happens to claim psychic abilities. Why an ex-priest? Because this psychic/priest molested alter boys several years prior.

Yeah, I know. The film was a bit more heavy handed on the political diatribes than the show used to be, and it seems somewhat forced, but it hits so many hot button topics: Catholic scandals, stem cell research, medical ethics, gender/sexual identity and homosexuality.

But what I liked most, was a discussion that Scully has with Joseph Crissman, basically debating theology on if he had ever been a valid priest and if God would/could ever forgive him. Naturally, Scully believes this man is lost; with no chance for redemption, while [Father] Crissman believes his psychic abilities were granted by God, to help solve the murders and gain redemption (penance?) for past sins. There is no doubt that sins, no matter their absolution, mange to find a way to bring consequences to the surface. Here in lies the wonderful finale of this episodic film -- but don't worry, I won't spoil it for you. But, like all good, classic X-files endings, we the audience are left to pontificate the answers to these great questions: Who has the right to redemption? How does one earn it? Is Faith singularly blind or can it stand up to a full partnership with Reason?

To those upset by the fact the story was not about aliens and government cover ups, you failed to see the point of the series as a whole. First of all, this film was always intended to be the "monster of the week" movie you claimed to despise so much. Secondly, this film rounded out all the loopholes of its general Thesis - the blending of science and mystery. This film is like the Master's thesis to its Bachelors degree, earned throughout nine seasons of episodic speeches (dare I say sermons?).

I'll admit, if a third movie is made, I'd like to see the mythology storyline continued or wrapped up, but more than that, I'd like to see a continuation in to the exploration of the core issues presented in the show -- Chris Carter's Doctorate on Religion, Psychology and Post-modernism, if you will.

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