God’s Golden Age of Hollywood

26 Dec

Luke 1:1-4, “Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.” (bolded words are my emphasis, MGM)

Christmas week is our family’s week to catch up on great movies of the past.  Often, they come from the Golden Age of Hollywood (the 1930’s to the 1950’s, approximately).  I acquired the Christmas movie tradition while living in Britain in the 1980’s.  The BBC (all three channels) and the Independent Television Channel Four went neck-to-neck all Christmas week with the best movies ever!!!  

While those movies have much to teach us about good solid values, we have to keep them in context.  

The Golden Age of Hollywood was not a golden age for everyone, not even in the U.S.  

For example, one reason that black musicians became so predominant in the swing music of that era is because they were previously shut out of so much other music.  And their inclusion in the swing movement did not signal full inclusion elsewhere.  That is still a work in progress, even in our day.  Racism still rears its ugly head.  But it kept its head up constantly during the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Still, movies like “To Kill a Mockingbird” opened the racial dialogue.

And movies like “You Can’t Take it With You” and “Meet Me in St. Louis” taught the concept of families working as teams, instead of majoring in extreme individuality (as we often see today).  

My favorite scene in “Meet Me in St. Louis” is the one where the family is in total disarray after the father announces, unilaterally, the move from St. Louis to New York City, which will be good for his career.  The children have all disappeared upstairs without dessert.  Everyone’s faces are full of sorrow and disbelief.  

The mother, herself not comprehending the news, sits down at the piano and begins to play.  The father eventually begins to sing.  The children trickle down from upstairs, first to listen, then to consume the untouched desserts.  

That scene speaks oodles of things to me.  Mainly that, while the mother did not agree with the father about the move, she did not let any news affect the family unity.  Her value was that it was better to be unified in a city she didn’t like than to be warring with each other in St. Louis.  And eventually, through cooperating with the father in planning for the move that no one wants, the family does reach his heart.  He changes his mind and they stay in St. Louis.

That is almost exactly the plot of “You Can’t Take it With You.”  Playing on a team as a family, even when you don’t agree with the “coach.”

Imagine a movie being made with those values now!  Not!

All that to say, God’s values, expressed in the Bible, can often be seen in movies from the Golden Age of Hollywood, but it is not an exact fit.  

For one example, the Golden Age of Hollywood often brought us marriages where people did not get on the same team right away.  They sometimes never joined the same team.

“Gone With the Wind” is the extreme example of that type of marriage.  The passion was kept alive and exciting by constant fighting and sparring between Scarlett and Rhett, even after they were married.

In fact, even at the movie’s end, Scarlett does not regret that she and Rhett never truly became a team when they were a family.  She only goes to work plotting how she will get him back for more excitement and fireworks, for more sparring between two individuals who constantly want their own way.

I believe we can combat the tendency to over-romanticize the Golden Age of Hollywood by looking at God’s own Golden Age, described in His Word.  Not everything in the Bible is idealized.  God is very careful to show us the flaws of the human players.

But in the Christmas story of Mary and Joseph, we find teamwork as a family at its very best.

And that is worth more than one look in a year . . .  



One Response to “God’s Golden Age of Hollywood”

  1. Mary Gardner Martin December 26, 2012 at 12:44 PM #

    Commenting on my own post: The reason I used Luke 1:1-4 as my tie-in to the Christmas story is because Luke, a Gentile who may never have met Jesus at all in His Incarnation here on earth, speaks of having “a more perfect knowledge” of the events of His life. Where did Luke get that more perfect knowledge? Many commentators believe that he was the Barbara Walters of his era (he was a doctor but maybe had multiple talents, LOL!) and secured the best interview ever, with Mary, the mother of Jesus. Certainly there are elements to his narrative that seem infused with a woman’s insight, and particularly the insight that would have belonged to Christ’s mother. Someday we will know for sure!!!

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