Twilight Zone: Time Enough at Last

[This blog may reveal important details about plot development.]

Twilight Zone‘s Time Enough at Last (episode 8 of season 1) was based on a short story by Marilyn Venable. In this amazing episode, a man with a “passion for print” can never find enough time to read. After emerging from a bank vault, he realizes a bomb has killed the rest of the human population. He takes relief in knowing that at last he has time to read until his eyeglasses shatter.

Maybe it is our own tight schedules that make us empathize with this man. The wife and boss torment this man so much that it can be difficult to appreciate their validity. However, they do have a point. Relationships and careers deserve attention, focus, and time. It would seem our bookish friend has neglected them in his quest to entertain himself.

This tale is about a form of greed. People can have an intense desire to use their time selfishly just like others hoard excessive amounts of money. As Christians, we have made Jesus Christ the Lord over our lives. This means all of our money and time actually belong to God. We know the secret to the kingdom of God is that we must give some to gain more. Christians who tithe and freely give money receive God’s plentiful blessings. Likewise, God will free up some time in the schedules of those who volunteer for ministry, community, or to help a friend.

Time Enough at Last reminds us to dedicate our attention, focus, and time to those around us. For Christians, it could be considered a call to be generous with our money, time, or whatever we are tempted to greedily desire for selfish purposes. This may seem like a big sacrifice, but it is not. After all, Christ gave up His entire life for us.

NOTE TO HOLLYWOOD: Short stories are an incredible inspiration for quality films.

NOTE TO WRITERS: A certain way to grab the reader’s attention and make a point is to take a situation to the most extreme.

*Kim Bond is a Christian author and editor. Visit her at www.drawneartochrist.com.

 

Advertisements

Twilight Zone: The Mind & the Matter

[This blog may reveal important details about plot development.]

Like other Twilight Zone episodes, The Mind and the Matter (episode 27 of season 2) teaches us a moral lesson. In this episode, a grouchy man uses a concentration technique to wish away the existence of his fellow man. After becoming bored, he brings back only other versions of himself. After becoming tired of himself, he uses the concentration technique to bring back the original population.

It is easy to imagine ourselves in this grouchy man’s shoes. Sometimes we become irritated with others. Other times we hide from people inside our homes. This attitude is certainly understandable and lawful, but we know it is not moral. Beyond that, Christians know it is not Christlike. Although Jesus withdrew to quiet places to spend time with His Father, He did not seek refuge from crowds because He was annoyed or afraid of people.

In John 13:35 Jesus said, “By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Another important command comes from Mark 12:31, “…love your neighbor….” If we consider ourselves followers of Jesus, we must love others in our attitude and actions. We must love diverse personalities and admire the strengths we see in others.

Using a similar approach to the famous short story known as The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs, this Twilight Zone episode teaches us that our present situation may be better than a circumstance in which our wishes comes come true. With a few clever camera tricks, viewers recognize life holds no meaning without other people around. Additionally, Christians can take from this episode a reminder to love others. All of these work together to make The Mind and the Matter a distinctive episode.

NOTE TO HOLLYWOOD: The powers of the human mind still have lots of potential to be explored on film.

NOTE TO WRITERS: If written in an intelligent way that people can relate to, a moral lesson still has its place in modern literature.

*Kim Bond is a Christian author and editor. Visit her at www.drawneartochrist.com.

 

Twilight Zone: Walking Distance

[This blog may reveal important details about plot development.]

It has been over fifty years since Twilight Zone first aired, and it is still one of the best shows on television. Walking Distance (episode 5 of season 1) is one of the very best episodes currently available on Netflix. In this episode, a man accidentally stumbles onto himself as a child. His brief interaction causes a negative lifelong consequence.

One of the things that makes Walking Distance so great is that it captures a common wish for most of us. Regardless of the quality of our childhood, many of us reminisce about one fun day we might like to return to enjoy once more. Even if that is not the case, we would want to visit some person that has now passed away. If for no other reason, we would want to go back and give our younger selves some encouragement. The show’s conclusion pours water on our fiery passion to return to childhood for any reason—as it should.

We can trust that God’s plan for our timeline to happen just as it did was for the best. In 1Corinthians 13:11, we read, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” Our past struggles made us the people we are today. I bet I am not alone in saying that I would never want to relive my life’s struggles again even to enjoy some of the happy days. No, in fact my heart is fuller today than when I was younger because my relationship with Christ has grown stronger every day I have walked with Him. I long for the day I will spend with Jesus Christ much more than I look longingly back on this temporary life I have lived.

Some who may not know the Lord may only focus on their lack of strength and beauty as they age, but those of us who know the Lord have hope in our hearts and a knowledge of our value as God’s child. If you do not know the Lord, it is time to make a choice for Christ so that you can have hope in eternity. Will you choose today?

NOTE TO HOLLYWOOD: My only criticism on Twilight Zone episodes is the heavy use of smoking and alcohol consumption to show a character’s nervousness and/or depression. If one were to show healthy coping mechanisms, wouldn’t it encourage the general population to turn those things?

NOTE TO WRITERS: Explore common desires and their negative consequences.

*Kim Bond is a Christian author and editor. Visit her at www.drawneartochrist.com.

The Returned (US series)

[This blog may reveal important details about plot development.]

The Returned (US) is a television series currently available on Netflix. The show is based on a town where people mysteriously come back from the dead years after they died. The interesting premise prompts viewers to start watching. The mystery of why and how they returned drives viewers to continue watching the series. Either due to early cancellation or some other reason, the mystery was never solved! Many other questions popped up such as the bubbling water in the sink and the source of Victor’s mysterious powers, but none of them were explained either. The unsolved mysteries were not the only problem with the series.

Although the series was rated TV 14, I felt the need to wash my eyes after having watched the numerous death and sex scenes. As a normal and well-adjusted adult, I have no interest in watching other people have sex or watching people die. As a Christian,  I refuse to compromise my relationship with Christ by viewing vulgar content.  After a few episodes, I could determine when they were coming and skipped those scenes. 

On the positive side, there was some mention of Biblical figures. The characters mentioned Lazarus having been raised from the dead. At one point, a character directly  quoted the Bible. I sincerely appreciate those references. Additionally, the beautiful mountain setting made an awe-inspiring backdrop for the series.

Unfortunately, the negatives outweighed the positives with this series. There was no answer to the mystery and too much sex and violence. I would not recommend this series.

NOTE TO HOLLYWOOD: Do not spoil a good premise with unnecessary sex and violence. Answer mysteries. Film in locations outside of New York in Los Angeles.

NOTE TO WRITERS: Biblical figures and quotes can be written into a character’s dialogue in a natural way.

*Kim Bond is a Christian author and editor. Visit her at www.drawneartochrist.com.

The Paradise

[This blog may reveal important details about plot development.]

The Paradise is a television series currently available on Netflix. It is based on a book, first published in 1883, called The Ladies Paradise by Emile Zola. (Again, this supports my theory that the best films are based on books.) This is a must-see for every ambitious woman. While romantic love is fantastic, the story has been told ten million ways in books, song, and film. We all know there are other things to live for.

First and foremost, there is our love for God. Another part of our lives should consist of a different form of love, such as parental love, friend love, or love for fellow man. Finally there is love for our purpose in life, and some of us have a strong desire to pursue some vocation. Denise captures this desire so well with her statement, “I don’t want to marry Moray. I want to be him.” Later, The Paradise delights us by adding to the story a sense of romantic love between Moray and Denise, unrequited love between Katherine and Moray, pure parental-type love between Katherine and Flora, complicated parental love between Clara and her daughter, and friend love between Sam and the others after his misunderstood circumstance with Katherine’s friend. That episode with Sam brought to my remembrance the Biblical story of Joseph and the Potifar’s wife in Genesis 39.

Adding to all of those gems, the story appeals to our curiosity with mystery! What truly happened to Moray’s wife? What did Jonas scribble in the notebook?  Sadly, we never learned the answer to those questions—either due to the premature cancellation of the show or perhaps they were never meant to be revealed. Another disappointment was that Arthur’s murder failed to carry grave consequences as taking a man’s life should.

From a Christian perspective, The Paradise was presented in a tasteful way. We certainly saw behavior that is outside of God’s will for Christians as described in the Bible. Besides the murder, viewers witness manipulation, greed, jealousy, hypocrisy, lust, drunkenness, extramarital affairs, and homosexuality. All of these are common to everyday life and nothing to shield one’s eyes about, which is good since no woman will want to shield their eyes from the beautiful costumes. The feminine dresses worn by the ladies contribute to the idea that women can be professionally successful and respected without being brutish, aggressive, or angry. If Denise enjoyed a good personal relationship with Jesus Christ, she might be considered a Proverbs 31 woman.

NOTE TO HOLLYWOOD: Do not develop mysteries without the intention of solving them. Make less TV MA shows. Base more films on books.

NOTE TO WRITERS: Explore the many types of love: love of God, love between friends, parental love, and love of purpose. Include mystery regardless of the genre. Do not marginalize murder.

*Kim Bond is a Christian author and editor. Visit her at www.drawneartochrist.com.

 

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

[This blog may reveal important details about plot development.]

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is a seven-part mini-series available on Netflix. While the first episode was a little slow, the series really gained speed with part two and continued gaining momentum in the remaining episodes. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell was based on a book by Susanna Clarke. This series supports my theory that the best films are based on short stories and books. After learning that author Susanna Clarke was the daughter of a Christian minister, I looked for ways in which she may have incorporated faith into the plot.  They are somewhat subtle.

As one can expect from a fantasy film, we see magic. It requires some cleverness to include magic without rendering a childish plot. Susanna Clarke has avoided this snare by including accurate historical facts and a fair share of wit. Impressive acting, special effects, and costumes all worked together to make this an excellent film for an adult audience. Another issue must be dealt with regarding magic.

Sorcery and witchcraft is condemned in the Bible (see Deuteronomy 18:9-13). God wants us to pray and trust that His answer to our prayer is better than using other means to force a situation to go our way. Yet, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien successfully used magic to appeal to Christian audiences, and so did Susanna Clarke. In my imagination, I could see Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell as symbols of prophets who showed the power of God with miraculous acts. As with some prophets of the Bible, these magicians fail to live up to perfect standards. The symbolism continues with The Gentleman, who could be likened to a demon that tricks Christians into dark lifestyles.

The Gentleman’s ball could be interpreted as an allegory for addiction. Christians inadvertently become slaves of The Gentleman. As with addiction, there are obstacles to escaping the slavery. Lady Pole realizes she is trapped and wants to escape but cannot ask for help. Mrs. Strange seems to be so much influenced by the enchantment that she does not ask for help. At one point, the Nameless Slave feels pinned by what he believes is his destiny; yet he dismisses the illusion of power to reach for freedom from the ball much like a drug dealer who wants true deliverance must let go of the addiction and lifestyle.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is a brilliant and welcome addition to this Christian fan of science fiction. It is intelligent and witty with good special effects and a refreshing plot. Quite honestly, it is rare that I watch anything rated TV MA or R so I am happy this was rated TV 14.

*NOTE TO HOLLYWOOD: Make less TV MA rated shows. Keep it intelligent with accurate historical facts and witty dialogue. Base more films on books.

**NOTE TO AUTHORS: Inject allegory. Science fiction is alive and well.

***Kim Bond is a Christian author and editor. Visit her at www.drawneartochrist.com.