The Nic Cage Jukebox 7: Left Behind (2014 – Vic Armstrong)

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Each week, one randomly selected film from Nicolas Cage’s career.  Hopefully we can begin to figure out exactly what he’s been up to all these years.

I used to think about the apocalypse every day.

Growing up in a religious household meant that the end of days was always on the tip of the tongue.  My mind couldn’t quite grasp the symbolism involved though; the promise of a new body led me to believe that my head, arms and legs would trot off to paradise to meet a new tummy, like some ecclesiastical Transformer.  My parents would promise me that the afterlife was bliss – endless conversations would be held over the topic of treasure (apparently god wasn’t talking about the same things as pirates).  And one day I was told that nobody would know when and where the world would end.

Now, I didn’t want the world to end.  I was barely getting used the world as it was, even if it didn’t for me extend that much further than the limits of Tunbridge Wells.  I realised that if I thought about the end of the world as much as possible, then I would always know the time and place, and therefore, according to god’s logic, the world could not end.

It became, as these things often do, a kind of silent obsession that dwelled within my mind.  Looking back, it was a deeply unhealthy thing for a child to think about, but then again, children are always obsessed with death, such is their habit of playing dead, their tongues hanging absurdly out of their mouths.

(Years later, I realised every generation has assumed they are in the end of days, including the one which wrote the Bible.  The failure of the world to end is one of the strongest evidences for the failure of religion.)

I don’t presume that these peculiarities are unique to a Christian upbringing.  Every childhood has its misconceptions.  But religions are particular subcultures.  They have their own languages and practices and entertainments.  Every now and then, some bro-dude on twitter will start laughing at the Christian film culture that exists in America.  And like most performative acts, it reveals more about the small-minded arrogance of the accuser than the accused.  Because, as much as I resent the indoctrination of my youth, I can’t escape the truth that the majority of people I encountered within that culture were some of the kindest, most generous people I have ever known.

So who cares if they have their bland, safe cinephilia?

(I mean, I care a little bit, because Nic Cage was in one of those films, and it popped up on the jukebox.  So I had to watch it, and it’s not very good.  And it curiously presents all the Christians in the film as pretty unappealing individuals, which is… odd… for an evangelistic film.  It’s nearly two hours long, and for huge swathes of it, it feels like you’ve accidently stumbled into an Alpha Course.)

So the question must be posed, if heaven is a paradise, with no pain or hurt or suffering, will it have Left Behind in it?

Nicolas Cage Jukebox rankings:

 

  1. Lord of War
  2. The Runner
  3. Rumble Fish
  4. Peggy Sue Got Married
  5. Windtalkers
  6. Left Behind
  7. Pay the Ghost

 

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