Merry Movie Christmas! — Starring Jesus as Gunslinger, Spaceman and Jailbird

During the holiday season is but one question burning alongside the yule log for audiences of America —

Is Die Hard in fact a Christmas movie?

The unequivocal answer is, of course, a resounding YES.

(Any film with Vaughn Monroe singing Let It Snow during the credits by definition qualifies as a Christmas movie.)

Except exist even more interesting celluloid mysteries hidden amid the Holy of Holies, film fans!

To wit, this author ushers you onto the backlot for a behind the scenes exposé of all the times you watched a Passion Play from the New Testament…and never even knew it.

Naturally our leading man is none other than Jesus of Nazareth himself.

Spoilers for Spoilsports

Fair is fair so consider yourself forewarned there will be spoilers galore.

Nonetheless, honestly, if you aren't at least vaguely aware of how the New Testament ends you probably shouldn't be spending your time perusing articles — no matter how amusingly clever they may be.

So either trod along the path to Bethlehem or wander off chasing whatever constellation, but don't complain that I didn't warn you.

Shane (1953) — Jesus as Gunslinger

Brief Synopsis: A mysterious drifter rides into the valley of a community under occupation. He has a hidden power in the form of skill with a firearm yet chooses to pursue a peaceful path of existence.

Over the course of working with a homesteader the eponymous Shane accustoms himself to the warmth of family life while cautioning the young son of the abode violence is seldom the answer.

On numerous occasions Shane is tempted by lure of the material to turn his back on those who need him, but in every instance behaves nobly in his devotion to the innocents he has chosen to protect.

Eventually Shane is forced into a confrontation with those who seek to persecute inhabitants of the area; which results in his triumph by an act of self-sacrifice.

Money Quote:

"A gun is a tool, Marian; no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel or anything. A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it. Remember that.”

There's Also This…:

Admittedly the least direct of our allegories, its Christian overtones are unmistakable.

The family which Shane helps is called Starrett, the father being Joe, as in Joseph, and the mother being Marian, as in Mary. While not a symmetrical comparison to the Holy Family the allusion is obvious.

Despite clear infatuation, absent overt invitation, from the wife in the film, Shane maintains a celibate lifestyle. He is aware of her affection for him but actively chooses to interpret it from a morally blameless perspective.

The main antagonist Wilson who Shane fights to the death is dressed entirely in black as characterization of evil.

Opening the film, Shane descends from the heavens — or surrounding mountains — before leading the townsfolk to oppose their oppressors. Closing the film, Shane afterward ascends into the unknown — or aloft the same mountains from whence he came.

Incidentally, the meaning of Shane is generally given as "God is gracious.”

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) — Jesus as Spaceman

Brief Synopsis: A mysterious visitor from afar (another planet) arrives to a fretful population with a sublime gift which — humans being humans — they promptly destroy. In vain the visitor seeks out the wisest of the earth to convey his message, all while persecuted for being contrarian the status quo.

Eventually, in an effort to illustrate the importance of his communication, he commands that his spacecraft cause all mechanical function on the planet to cease operation for one hour — scrupulously denoting hospitals and the like be spared in order to preserve life wherever possible.

All of which results in…a space sermon.

Money Quote:

"We do not pretend to have achieved perfection, but we do have a system, and it works.”

There's Also This…:

Wow, how do you not see it? The Spaceman assumes the moniker John CARPENTER…which is also J. C. as in Jesus Christ who was…an actual carpenter in his youth.

He is literally murdered then resurrected by a higher power (Gort, his robot companion, who is the superior in authority.)

At the end our protagonist makes a speech in which he states Humanity will neither be forced nor punished in following the new space gospel as long as their destructive acts affect only themselves. Alas, earthlings will face dire consequences for malfeasance; the ultimate crux of his admonition being that Mankind has Free Will.

Geez, people!

Cool Hand Luke (1967) — Jesus as Jailbird

Brief Synopsis: A mysterious inmate arrives at a plantation prison with a knack for bravado which initially offends but ultimately endears the figure to his fellow outcasts from society.

During this transition, the hero endures a series of seemingly innocuous events which amount to tortuous experiences that provide hope to the forlorn downtrodden of the incarceration system.

Finally, this charismatic challenger to rigid authority meets his end as a martyr…in a church.

Money Quote:

"Yeah, well… sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.”

There's Also This…:

When born, his mother believes Luke to be a special child.

The prison number of the protagonist is 37 in reference to the Gospel of Luke 1:37 which states, "For with God nothing shall be impossible.”

At one juncture when Luke asks The Lord for a sign it begins to rain, reminiscent of the rite of baptism.

Lead actor Newman learned to strum the banjo in order to play…Plastic Jesus in the film.

A scene in which Luke eats 50 eggs has strong connections to the Easter holiday. (In fairness, also based on an anecdote author Donn Pearce heard during his own time spent in jail.) The feat is considered miraculous by fellow prisoners and afterward Luke lays upon a table in crucifix pose.

During another scene when a buxom woman, symbolizing temptation of flesh, is washing her car in a seductive manner all the inmates idolize her other than Luke who commits to the work before him.

In a final escape attempt, Luke is on the run for three days, which is non-coincidentally the same amount of time recorded for the resurrection.

Jesus Christ ministered for two years before his death while Luke is sentenced with two years in prison before he is likewise killed.

The final shot is a photo of Luke superimposed over a crossroads near the plantation, again symbolic of the crucifixion itself.

End Credits in the film list 12 inmates just as there were…really? Are you seriously not getting this yet?

The Most Wonderous Time of the Year

So there you have it, the true meaning of…some of the best films ever made.

Of course, they don't generally involve special effects explosives and there is precious little wokery.

Except — if the movies you love are about more than you think — maybe too the religion you question is about more than you believe.

Hark ye! The signs are all around!

Even when we do not immediately recognize them afore the glitz and glamour.

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Author`s name Guy Somerset
Editor Dmitry Sudakov