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Monday, March 07, 2011

Movie: The Adjustment Bureau

The Adjustment Bureau, starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, was released in our area a few days ago. (Wikipedia article here.) After reading the Christianity Today review, I decided to take my wife to see it, as it was the closest thing to a "date movie" that was on. (I advise looking at this review before spending money on the film, because the review indicates aspects of the movie that might be troubling for some.) The movie is based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, which story is available here. Dick's daughter was involved in the film's production.

I'll try to avoid giving away much of the plot, but the title comes from a mysterious group, apparently all male, and all wearing hats, that is tasked with making sure that each person follows a Plan. There is a Chairman, who directs all this, but he is only referred to, not seen or heard.

Christianity Today also interviewed the writer and director of the movie.

When a Bureau person refers to The Chairman, he makes gestures upward, or looks upward. The Matt Damon character directly asks the member of the Bureau assigned to him if the Bureau are angels. The answer is ambiguous, but not a denial. So is The Chairman supposed to be God? Are the Bureau men angels? I don't know, and the answer seems to be deliberately indefinite. It is clear that Bureau members don't know everything, that they make mistakes, and that they don't have anything like full knowledge of The Plan. Does The Chairman? That isn't clear. Do real angels have complete knowledge of what God wants? I doubt it. Do they sometimes make mistakes? I have no idea.

CNN, I find, has a Belief Blog. This entity devoted a posting to an interview, by Fredericka Whitfield, of the writer/director, and the actor who plays the Damon character's Bureau assignee, Anthony Mackie. Parts of the film are shown. The emphasis of the CNN piece was on free will vs. fate.

I understand that the question of free will vs. fate (or determinism) is an important and difficult one. (See, for example, the Wikipedia article on Free Will.) It is not reasonable to expect a popular film to provide definitive answers to such questions. But the movie deserves good marks for bringing it up, in dramatic fashion.

Do I really have choices? I think so. John 3:16, the Bible verse most often quoted, indicates that I do have a real choice as to whether I take Christ as Lord and Saviour. It's not the only such verse. Is my behavior partly determined by my experience and heredity? I'm sure that it is. Does God know what I am going to choose, in advance? I believe so. But I also believe that I have real choices. I could have chosen differently. It's a complex subject.

Thanks for choosing to read this.


atlibertytosay said...

I plan to go see this.

It looks very interesting.

I rarely go see movies on opening weekends any more .... mostly to avoid the teenage talking tyrants.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks. We're retired, so we can go to Friday afternoon shows, and often do. Not many teens there. Actually, the movies we see don't usually seem to appeal to them.

Lidia - Nutricionistas said...

The first thing I can say is that The Adjustemente Bureau is a rare film. It starts as a thriller about an aspiring U.S. senator, only to be a courageous commitment to science fiction, when in reality it is a love story. A fantastic modern reissue requited love, but impossible to divine.
When production starts to become a science fiction story is a bit messy and a bit mislead some characters, but once you become more or less with the leitmotif of the hat brigade, tension arises an intense thriller.
The final resolution is a little bluff, a little fairy tale, a little Disney

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks for choosing to comment, Lidia!

A pretty good summary.

Agricentro Villalba said...

An entertaining, unforseeable movie but something dense ultimately. It finishes almost without time, they do not give many answers.

Martin LaBar said...

No, they don't. Thanks.

Norma | said...

The movie leaves many questions without response. It is something rare. I did not like it

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, Norma/animaladas.

Yes, it does, so it's not for those who want everything wrapped up.