lethargic_man: (Default)
[Only contains the most minor of spoilers.]

I recently watched the film The Devil's Advocate, at [livejournal.com profile] bluepork's recommendation, and was highly impressed. Frequently portrayals of the Devil in books and films seem to get caught between the conflicting aspects of the Devil as tempter of mankind, overlord of hell, first of the fallen, and so on. (Disclaimer: I have not read (or seen) any telling of the Faust story.) The Christian conception of the Devil to me inherently makes less sense than the (most common) way temptation is explained within Judaism, not as the result of an external entity, but as the result of one's own יֵצֶר הָרַע, evil inclination.

In The Devil's Advocate, the Devil is not directly responsible for any of mankind's evil: all he does is facilitate people in their own destruction; and this is one of the reasons why it works so well IMO. You could almost take the Devil out of the film altogether and still have it work, using the morality, or lack thereof, of lawyers, and the choices a defence lawyer is faced with when their conscience tells them their clients are guilty, as a tool for exploring the moral dimensions of Man.

Conversely, the film reveals a weakness when it diverges from this portrayal at the end, when the portrayal of the Devil verges upon evil overlord. He describes, for example, the twentieth century as being almost wholly his. Whilst this does a great job of showing the Devil as evil and the fount of evil, he's supposed to be tempting Kevin Lomax to join him at this moment! What sane human would not be revulsed by such an admission?

Nevertheless, in general the film works very well, and I would recommend it highly.

Rather to my annoyance, I missed, on first viewing, the reference to the Devil taking Jesus up a mountain to offer him the temptations of the world, despite having seen another film (Jesus of Montreal) in which the "mountain" is realised as a skyscraper and the Devil as a lawyer. (I only got it when hearing the director refer to it obliquely in the director's commentary.) Probably there are other NT references in the film I am missing too.


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Lethargic Man (anag.)

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