Beautiful Creatures is a 12A which I would have normally well and truly wussed out of. Fortunately when a group of us were going through the movie choices we had in the foyer of the cineplex I was unaware of the content of the film. Not saying I didn’t hide my eyes and wish I wasn’t there a few times, but it was ok and I loved overall story. The humour was great and the acting was fun – this is the nearest you get to Emma Thompson and Jeremy Irons in Hammer Horror.
Whilst as the Guardian, (and others), have said of it there is more than a touch of the Twilight Saga about it there is a difference between this movie and your average Vampire/ Witch/ Zombie Gothic inspired teen chick flick. That difference is the way in which spirituality is discussed and the debate between rationality and faith is examined. It took the townspeople / supernatural folk interplay in a different and interesting direction as well as examining the way in which religion has and continues to be used and misused.
At one point the film explicitly explores “what is belief” and at another “what does the word sacrifice really mean?” and ”what is the purpose of sacrifice?” is discussed.
There is a moment when Ethan, the main non-supernatural human, asks Amma, who is a seer and in many ways a bridge between the two communities/worlds how she can go to church when it thinks of as it does about the casters (witches). Amma answers him that God created all in his image, it is people who decide who was a mistake.
The film is in many ways a great morality tale showing there is good and bad within each of us and that we have choices, as well as illustrating as well as explaining the true nature of sacrifice.
I went surfing to see if I could find a link to a Christian film guide with content to support this film and couldn’t find one, having been on the Damaris site it appears they haven’t produced one. However, I did find this review which made me think “have I just watched a different movie?” I know I didn’t, it’s just I look at faith differently from my more conservative brothers and sisters. Where they saw a dangerous film I found a refreshing one which opened discussion.
My only real complaint with the content of the film was perhaps the way in which there seems to be an ongoing sexualisation of teenagers in films these days. Now, on one hand I know this is art reflecting reality rather than the other way round but on another I was left feeling a little uncomfortable about it in a way I can’t really explain.
However, even with that last bit in there if we were back in time about 5 years it is a film I would have been more than happy for Third Party to see and it would have been a really useful discussion tool. In addition to the spiritual themes already mentioned it would have been a good vehicle to look at the nature of prayer and when and how it is appropriate to pray, particularly if you find yourself threatened or believe you are in a situation of spiritual warfare – looking at what the bible said too.
There is a scene in the film which also discusses censorship and the way in which To Kill A Mockingbird was seen as a “banned” book because of subject content where two girls start praying against evil and refuse to read the book because of their beliefs. This would have been a really good discussion starter to ask what she thought and what she would have done in the situation and why. The content would have produced a vehicle for discussing some of the more difficult aspects of faith and its expression which I believe it is useful for parents to look at with their children. I think it would be useful for getting young people thinking through different strands of faith and may help prepare them for going to uni where they may encounter more conservative evangelical groups whose Christianity can be different to that which they have previously encountered. I believe aswell it would be good for discussing through and preparing them for dealing with secularism and humanism as ideologies.
In short I can’t recommend this film highly enough and if you are a Christian with a teenager, (who doesn’t get easily freaked), or even perhaps a youth leader working with 13+ age group I’d recommend this film as a great discussion starter opportunity.