My sister and I were almost certain that Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry was real. We wished, even longed for Platform 9 and 3/4 to exist, for that solid wall to let us in to reveal a railway station that led to a world hidden to our muggle eyes and mysterious still.
As a teenager, I did not realize how engaging books in the Harry Potter series were. For the first time, I realized the depth and “realness” the author J K Rowling gave to her fictional characters and their multi-layered, intertwining stories. The mean Dursley family, the awe that stemmed from the eerie corridors of Hogwarts, the fatherly presence of Dumbledore, the enigmatic Sirius Black and his motorcycle – each story that connected Harry’s muggle existence to the wizarding world fascinated as it came together to make sense as one story.
Think of the best movie or book story you’ve ever encountered. Did not the people seem real characters, the story so well-written, touching and exhilarating that you wished it were all real?
Stories that are connected throughout and that make sense in a cohesive manner are even better than compartmentalized episodes. Something about them grips us.
What is it that authors do to stories that grip readers? How are stories & movies linked to God’s story? Let’s first look at what constitutes a story proper.
What I learned from Syd Field’s Screenplay
About a year ago, I read Syd Field’s “Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting”. I was trying to learn how to write stories. Let’s just say I think story writing is probably not for me, at least not now! ‘Tis no easy affair, having the responsibilities of an author. But Syd Field’s outline for a screenplay intrigued me much! He posits that the ideal story has several key plot-points that come together to make a thumping good story. Here are the main ones in my own words –
1) The Setup – This scene defines the world in the story.
2) The Catalyst – This is where the Protagonist encounters the main problem that will forever change their life.
3) The Confrontation – The main problem is confronted and leads to a victory or a tragic end.
4) Resolution – The story is resolved and all loose ends tied up.
All stories reflect themes from the Story of God
Look at the similarity between the outline above and the Grand Story of the Bible-
1) Creation – Setup. God makes the universe as we know it. God makes man in his image. Mankind is good to begin with.
2) Rebellion – Catalyst. God’s enemy, the Devil, tempts the first couple into doing what they thought was best. Mankind is under a curse and the image of God in them is corrupted.
3) Confrontation – Redemption. The Author & God the Son, Jesus takes human form and lives the life we could not live and takes up the punishment, God the Father’s wrath upon Himself and saves those who trust him. He defeats death itself and comes to life. Jesus will return again in the near future and defeat the Devil and his team once and for all.
4) Restoration – Resolution. God’s creation will be restored to it’s true glory and the Hero, Jesus will live happily ever after with His people.
What if I told you that we are actually people living inside a story?
But this story is no fiction, and we are not its hero. Just like J.K. Rowling is the author and the person we finally ought to give credit to, Jesus is the author of the story and the surprisingly He enters this story, unlike powerless earthly authors who can only create saviours.
Different elements of the Grand Story are found in many movies and stories.
Three movies come to mind easily that hold many shadows of God’s story.
The movie “Tron,” which came out sometime in the 80s, is the story of the Incarnation. A man has created a computer game; in it, characters ask one another, “Do you believe in the User?” The warriors in the program are trying to resist an evil being, but they’re losing because REAL evil enters the being and he begins to take over computers in the real world. The “User,” watches the game in anguish, saying, “Don’t give up guys! You’re the best program in the world! I wrote you.” Finally, he realizes there’s only one remedy: so he becomes one of the characters in the game, in order to overthrow evil. I’ve used this as a retreat centerpiece several times. (Kristen Ingram)
None of these are fully Christian themes by any means, and that is my point. Human authors are made in God’s image and therefore unless they try to knowingly rebel against such story-writing, they are bound to create stories that somehow reflect the Grand Story and yet fall short because only God is the Incredibly Great, Worship-worthy Author.
Every movie, every story is connected to Christmas because that is when the Author of authors himself, Jesus, enters the grand story!
Finally, if you fancy that you’re a good character in the story, ask yourself this – do you live as the Author would like you to? Or do you have a mind of your own?
What do you think should happen to characters who think they know better than the Author?
Write in with your thoughts!