Monday, January 29, 2007

Dante and Keanu...

I decided to go ahead with this topic at the behest of professor Anderson, even though he mentioned the movie in class and I feel like a bit of cheater writing about it. During class, after we watched the movie "What Dreams May Come", in fast forward, we began to discuss other movies where hell or the afterlife were the big foci. I immediately thought of the movie "Constantine" with Keanu Reeves.
"Based on the DC/Vertigo comic book Hellblazer and written by Kevin Brodbin, Mark Bomback and Frank Capello, Constantine tells the story of irreverent supernatural detective John Constantine (Keanu Reeves), who has literally been to hell and back. When Constantine teams up with skeptical policewoman Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz) to solve the mysterious suicide of her twin sister (also played by Weisz), their investigation takes them through the world of demons and angels that exists just beneath the landscape of contemporary Los Angeles. Caught in a catastrophic series of otherworldy events, the two become inextricably involved and seek to find their own peace at whatever cost." (Summary written by unit publicist/WB on imdb.com.)
Although this is just in fact another comic book movie it has "practical" applications to Dante. For one, Constantine is Dante to a certain extent. Constantine has been to hell and walked through it. The difference is that Constantine is able to return to the living world and Dante, from what I understand, does not. The thing that I wanted to talk about was the very last scene of the movie Constantine.
During this scene Keanu Reeves' Character- who, as we understand, has been endowed with all kinds of specific knowledge about heaven and hell- sacrifices his life to save that of another. This results in God allowing him passage to heaven because he, like Christ, gave his life, making "the ultimate sacrifice" in order to get into heaven. Constantine, who has otherwise defiled the name of God over and over, and by all means is going straight to hell (we know this because Satan, played by Peter Stormare, tells us so), knows that by doing this one good deed, and because he believes in God, he is guaranteed a one way ticket to heaven. But Satan intervenes because he wants Constantine to run his army or something, and saves him so that he can sin again and get himself sent to hell.
Anyway, my point it, that the difference her is that Dante, to a certain extent believes the same thing. At the very beginning of the Inferno he says that with your last dying breath if you truly believe and ask for forgiveness from God that he will open the gates of Heaven to you. But, this is of course very unlikely, because few are aware of this fact. The difference between Dante and today's society, as it is told through this movie, is that we are a society that thrives on immediate gratification. We believe that even if we live a life of blaspheming and as a heretic that it is all good because as long as we do the right thing in the end then we are guaranteed a ticket to the holy place in the sky. Dante doesn't...you have got to work for it. Even if you believe in God, and love him, you must also be a good person and not live a life of access.
My point here is this, we as a society, are always looking for the easy way out. Whether it be a get rich quick scheme, or a self help book, we never take responsibility for our own actions which is exactly what Dante's hell is all about; atoning for the sins that you've committed during your life time for an eternity. Heaven is a place where only the worthy may go like Keanu, and Dante, so don't get too ahead of yourself and start living the good life today.

3 comments:

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Hell's Belle said...

I think as long as a person is sincere they can repent at the last second. Oscar Wilde once said he could never live as a Catholic, but he intended to die one. I'd hate to think he never made it...

Hell's Belle said...

reading this again, i see several holes in your argument. First of all, Dante doesn't think people need to live a "good life." He's Catholic, so he knows better. Dante believes in sincere repentence. Secondly, hell is not a place to atone for sins. That would be purgatory (where you are purged). Hell is rejection of grace, Heaven is acceptance of grace- everything else is a moot point.