I learned a good lesson last night.
And I want to emphasize the "I" in that first sentence because what I am about to write here is not an attempt to make you feel guilty or "convicted" in any way. I had breakfast this morning with my two great friends - Jacque and Lauren - and they really confirmed my feelings about this movie, so I just had to write about it.
And I won't go into specifics about the movie itself, so don't worry about me ruining it for you.
Last night, some friends and I went to see "The Dark Knight". There was so much buzz about this film, and I wanted to see it because "Batman Begins" was great, and mostly because this was Heath Ledger's last movie.
The night started out like any other, and I volunteered myself to stand in line so we could all get good seats. I got there at around 7pm (for our 9:30pm show) I read more of my book, and I was also able to talk for a long time with the guy next to me. It ends up that he is a part of the LDS church (Mormon), and he is very devout. He is 23, and he has one more year left at college. He went on his 2-year mission to England, and enjoyed it very much. As we chatted, we talked about a variety of things, but one thing that really caught my attention was just his "straight-edge" lifestyle. He doesn't drink, smoke, drink caffeine, or watch rated-R movies. Well, let me take that back - he has one of those DVD players (that his friends like to call: "The Mormon Player") which cuts out any bad words or sex (I am not sure about the violence part). He was telling me about how he watched "300" on that DVD player, and that the movie was over 2-hours, but after it went through the "Mormon player", it was only an hour and a half. We laughed at this, and then I commended him for taking such strong stance at keeping his mind and heart pure. I told him that it is hard to find a guy like that.
And not only is it hard to find a guy (...a husband) like that, but I felt convicted as well. I felt convicted because I oftentimes find myself watching very crude, funny movies. These movies aren't usually violent or filled with sex, but just filled with crude language and inappropriate jokes. The truth is - I am just not phased by these things, and that troubles me. I don't like how my mind and heart have become so desensitized to these things. I was so challenged by this young mans heart and effort he puts into keeping his mind away from those kinds of things. By this point, AJ arrived, and the line started moving. My new friend and I said our informal goodbyes to each other, and AJ and I raced to save seats.
The rest of our friends arrived, the movie begins, and I am SO excited. I am thrilled to see Heath Ledger in this movie, and I am just excited because everyone is saying it is so great. The first Joker scene comes about, showing how he controls some of the crime in Gotham City, and this is where we first get a glimpse at Ledger. As soon as I saw him in this scene, I can't explain what happened in the depths of my soul, but I became really frightened. And it wasn't a scary movie kind of frightened, but a different kind. After I talked it over with Jacque and Lauren today, Jacque hit it right on by saying that "there is a point where you are watching the movie and it's not just a movie anymore, but it's reality." Unfortunately, I am pretty convinced that Ledger was really struggling with some heavy spiritual things while he was making this movie, and what we see in "The Dark Knight" isn't just all pretend, but is very, very real.
Throughout the movie, there are so many one-liners by Ledger which hint towards death, it was almost unbearable to watch. Seeing the contrast of the two-faced guy valuing human life as a flip of a coin, while we are watching a young actor who actually is dead in real life, made me sick to my stomach. There were about 3 times during the movie where I thought to myself, "Okay, I am really going to leave now". At one point, my heart started to race, and I felt so sick to my stomach, I wasn't sure if I was going to pass out. I kept thinking to myself, "What the heck is wrong with me?!" All I wanted to do was calm down, because I wanted to watch the movie. I mean, it was a "good" movie! The acting was amazing, the cinematography was incredible, and the special effects were outstanding. It really is a one of a kind film. But the more I sat there, the more horrible I felt.
I thought of Ledger, and how he had to become this role. When I used to act in high school, our teacher would put a major deal on us about "breaking character" when we were done acting. I remember having a role once where my husband and children had died, and it was very difficult for me to come out of that mindset every time I tried to make myself believe that was my situation. So I can't even imagine what Ledger had to go through trying to play this evil, evil character. Here is a CNN article that talks about Ledger's death, and how he was unable to sleep at night. Ultimately, this brought him to the place where he accidentally overdosed on medicine. The meds that were found in his system were a mixture of sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medications.
I started to think about certain things that the Lord has spoken to us through Paul's letters:
2 Cor. 4:4 - "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."
We are being silly if we think that Satan isn't at work in unbelievers to blind them from Jesus Christ. And when an unbeliever opens himself or herself up to the evil things in this world (though they might not believe exactly in "Satan"), they are opening themselves up to the chance that Satan (evil) might want to work within them.
So basically, the bottom line here is two things:
(1) I am incredibly saddened for Heath Ledger and his family. Ledger was made in the image of God, was loved by God, and I wish he would have never died at such a young age, in such tragic circumstances. I think that the making of this dark film had a huge affect on Ledger's death, and like Jacque said - it's just a little to "real" for my liking.
Heath with Michelle Williams
(2) My prayer is that God will keep giving me a sensitive heart to things like these things. During the movie I found myself praying a lot, but also thanking God for making me sensitive to the movie. My prayer is that He will continue to make me sensitive to other movies that I really shouldn't be watching either.
Life is so short. The theme of this past month in my life has been to "be a light" to this dark world. After watching this movie, I kept meditating on the Philippians passage - "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." Whenever I think about this passage in Philippians, I can't help but to think about what was written before it, in chapter 2, when Paul sums up the gospel by explaining Christ's humility. Chapter 2 of Philippians is my favorite "summary" of the gospel, and this is what Paul is encouraging me to keep my mind thinking of.
So, unfortunately, I was not a fan of "The Dark Knight", and I actually never ever want to see it again. Again, I don't want this blog to make you feel guilty for seeing it, or for wanting to see it, because like I said before, I am not affected at all by other movies that you may think are entirely inappropriate. But I think we (Christians) can agree with one thing - we need to be more serious about the things that we are filling our hearts and our minds with. Whether it is movies, music, magazines, TV shows, or internet sites, we need to be careful. As Christians, we are not immune to Satan trying to lead us away from following after Christ with our whole hearts. Let us set on our minds on what is good, and not evil.
Heath Andrew Ledger
April 4, 1979 - January 22, 2008