Monday, September 6, 2010

Was thinking about religiousness in fiction

I have to admit, some times some things are so incredibly focused on religious roots that it's hard to believe that it can be presented without putting any religious seeds in a kid's head.

My favorite example is Hunchback of Notre Dame. I mean hey it's a terrific movie, let me make that perfectly clear, but just think about it. There's an entire song from Esmerelda named "God Save the Outcasts." The church of Notre Dame is the centerpiece of the whole thing, and it's, well, a church. Frollo's sworn to chastity and has an entire song where he praises God without actually using the word "God" itself, under the name "Maria." I mean, when I saw it the first time I thought he was talking to like, an ex-wife or something. And his entire song is about how much he wants to fuck Esmerelda, and instead they use evocative symbolism and creative twists to keep it safer and more kid-friendly.

I won't do a full-on review of Hunchback just because that's not why I'm making this post - I'm posting this because I'm astonished that, throughout the entire movie, I never once thought about God or religion. The church itself was a safe haven due to a set of rules - it never struck me that those rules were religiously bolted down through the Catholic Church's presence. 

This isn't even some sort of atheistic indignation post either. It didn't promote or smear religion. Instead you had people interacting with other people with varying goals and differing sets of ideologies and morals to achieve those goals. Frollo's desire for Esmerelda was a personal conflict, and because he was a villain and obsessed with her he would step on anyone and anything to get to her and offer her a choice; be his, or die. Meanwhile Phoebus is a surprisingly heroic and noble character, Quasimodo is your traditional gentle-inside troll, and the way the characters interact with the villain and the church itself keeps the drama going...but God is never part of it.

God was never bashed for promoting Frollo's behavior, nor was he praised for seeing the heroes through to the end or offering sanctuary to the heroes. It was kept out of it. And I love Hunchback all the more for it.

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