Those lovely evangelical apocalypse movies…

To my surprise and slight dismay I noticed a new movie starring Nicholas Cage. Since I have found some of his movies entertaining (not all though), I had a closer look of the newest one. This is when the surprise-dismay settled in. The movie was called “Left behind”, and one of the writers was Tim LaHaye.

LaHaye is famous in his own circles with his many books. The most popular ones were the series “Left behind”, with 12 titles (1995-2007) and many spin-offs. Just the books of this series have sold over 65 million copies, making LaHaye a wealthy man. The book series was turned into a movie-series of three parts (2000, 2002, 2005). For some reason the movie series has now been rebooted with this current movie.

The first famous evangelical apocalyptic movie was the “A thief in the night” (1972). This classic (in christian culture) movie has been seen by over 200 million people, and it had three sequels itself (1978, 1981, 1983). Already criticized in the 1970’s, it has gained much more criticism since. Furthermore it has been a cause for nightmares and fear for many children growing up.

All these movies depict a scene of end-times, particularly “the rapture” and fear of being left behind in “the times of tribulations”, after all good people, christians, had disappeared. This scene stems right from dispensational theology and thinking, with much more interpretations and books and revenues around it. It has become obvious that people are interested in “end times”, apocalyptic events and speculations of the future. Therefore these books and movies find their market easily, making their current stars (authors and preachers) rich.

Nicholas Cage is an interesting choice for the leading role of this new “Left behind” -movie. Mostly it is interesting since he shouldn’t have a problem of choosing movies he doesn’t like, just to have a salary of some sort. Furthermore it is interesting since the script and everything else in this movie is poor, to say it modest. The movie has received crushing reviews, from christians and non-christians alike. The movie is an obvious religious statement and a tool for religious missions to convert people. Therefore I found myself asking, why, indeed, has Nicholas Cage accepted the leading role in this movie. He has been categorically silent about religion in his interviews with previous movies, and seems to follow this rule. So it might be that we won’t get any answers for this matter, and we are left wondering.

Apart from the choice for leading role, the whole genre is an interesting one. For many it is almost an angry topic, since they feel this fascination with end-times has ruined their childhood, and left them live in fear. For others it is a source for mocking and ridiculing evangelicals – especially since the movies are at best b-quality. In this category (B movies) these evangelical dispensational movies settle in their right place, an entertainment for a limited audience. Moreover, the genre in total underlines the fact that scandals and speculations sell, and they sell very well.


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