Tuesday, June 12, 2018

How a Horror Movie Inspired Me to Begin Studying the Bible

By John Sanidopoulos

It was 1988. I was twelve years old. My aunt was babysitting my older two sisters and I and she decided to take us to the movies. There were no good PG rated movies my aunt wanted to see, but then she saw a movie starring Demi Moore that she did really want to see, however it was rated R. My aunt asked me if I wanted to see it, but I was nervous to see a rated R horror movie, as I was easily frightened by horror films as a child, and this would also be the very first rated R movie I would ever see in a theater. I gave in, half excited and half nervous. The movie we were going to watch was called The Seventh Seal.

The title and plot reference the seven seals described in the Book of Revelation, the final book of the New Testament of the Bible. Around the world, unusual phenomena are occurring that bear resemblance to signs of the biblical apocalypse; these include a mass death of sea life in Haiti and a devastating freeze in the Middle East, and at each of these locations, a mysterious traveler (J├╝rgen Prochnow) opens a sealed envelope just prior to the event taking place. The Vatican tasks Father Lucci (Peter Friedman) with investigating these events, though Lucci advises that they are all either hoaxes or have other explanations.

Concurrently to this, Abby Quinn (Demi Moore), a pregnant woman living in California, prepares for the birth of her child. Her husband, Russell (Michael Biehn), is a defense lawyer. In order to raise additional money for when their child is born, Abby and Russell rent a room to the mysterious traveler, who identifies himself with the name David Bannon. Soon thereafter, the usually hopeless Abby begins to have terrible nightmares of a man resembling Bannon being struck down by a soldier, who then demands "would you die for him?" It becomes apparent that "David Bannon" is actually the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Abby's nightmares are visions of his original crucifixion, and she is the reincarnation of Seraphia, the woman who offered Jesus water prior to his death only to be turned away by Cartaphilus, Pilate's porter who struck Jesus. All these things take place as events of the apocalypse are unfolding.

I won't spoil the ending, but I did want to capture the weirdness of the movie, which truly has some scary imagery, at least to a twelve year old. What struck me however was that throughout the movie there were quotes from the Bible, which I was very much interested in and it became my focus during the movie, making me wonder also how much of it was true. And as they gave off biblical references, I tried to memorize them so I can go home and look them up.

Now even though I was only twelve years old, I was somewhat familiar with the main stories of the Bible, having read a children's Bible when I was younger that my grandmother from Greece had given me and being an avid watcher of the anime series Superbook, as well as other ways, but what was presented in this movie about the Bible was to me on a whole other level, and it had me looking into the Book of Revelation and the Old Testament Prophets. But a children's Bible couldn't help me, so for the first time in my life I went and stole my sister's red-leather-bound King James Bible (this was the first time I opened up a real Bible), and I began to look up all the references I could remember. I was shocked and amazed that the underlying story about the end of the world presented in the movie had a basis in fact, but I found it very difficult to understand. In my desire to understand it, I began studying the Bible for the first time that day, and I haven't stopped since then.