I have to say that the Lord of Spirits podcast is fundamentally changing how I think about everything, not just religion.
I've got a post up at Bleedingfool.com comparing Deadpool and The Crow. Both in subject and structure the two are strikingly similar, but I want to dig a little deeper into the moral aspects of The Crow.
Previously, I always thought of it as a spiritually-tinged revenge movie with proto-emo imagery and music. That's still true, but the broadly Catholic-influenced themes and actions really stood out to me.
From a this perspective, Brandon Lee's character isn't a ghost bent on revenge so much as a soul in Purgatory who is cleansed of sin by carrying out divine judgement on unrepentant sinners while also helping those capable of redemption to find it. The titular crow is his guardian angel, guiding him on the path to salvation and peace.
The late Brandon Lee did a great job in this film, and one can't help but see similarities in his fate and that of his character, Eric.
On the face of it, Eric isn't a paragon of virtue. He's a rock and roller who has a live-in girlfriend - not exactly a poster child for the Holy Family.
And yet, he intends to marry her, proposing in the proper way. Even the wedding dress is modest and traditional. The date - Halloween - seems like a hipster conceit, but that means their first morning as husband and wife will be All Saints Day.
Okay, maybe I'm reaching there, but it's interesting to look at how he approaches his task. Each one of the guilty party he approaches has the opportunity to seek mercy. Only the pawn broker asks for it, and so he is spared (though his continued sinful behavior inevitably catches up to him).
The bag guys aren't just bad, they are objectively evil. The witch practicing blood magic? Yeah, that's a big call for some divine retribution there.
Finally, there's the big confrontation between Lee's character and the arch-villain, Top Dollar. As is customary, the villain gets the upper hand and seems sure to triumph but our hero suddenly turns that tables - in this case by summoning the memories of his fiancee's suffering and giving to the bad guy all at once.
What's interesting here is that Eric does this only after Top Dollar has admitted that yes, he was ultimately responsible for the double murder. He may as well have said mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
In fact, the fact that Eric is able to obtain those memories at all is another Catholic 'tell.' Officer Albrecht stayed with Shelly throughout her ordeal - a corporal act of mercy. Albrecht also looks after Sarah, buying her dinner when they meet, which is of course an act of charity.
Throughout the film, these moments knit together a tapestry of religious symbolism that may appear purely spiritual, but all have a basis in Catholic theology. Note how Eric purges the heroin from Sarah's mother and then tells her to go forth and sin no more.
When the mother then tries to be 'motherly' and her daughter gives her grief, the film could take a darker turn, but Sarah chooses the path of mercy, and accepts her mother's repentance.
The final scene where the again-dying Eric sees a vision of his fiancee approaching in a luminescent white light may appear to be simply traditional good vibes, a vague spiritualism, but a Catholic would note that her ordeal had already purified her, and that she was waiting for Eric to cleanse himself of sin as well. Having done so - offering forgiveness to some, justice to others - Eric is now able to ascend with her.
Make no mistake, the film abounds with Christian symbolism, right down to the showdown in what appears to be an abandoned cathedral. From my view, the entire film is permeated with not just religious themes, but ones that make the most sense if one views it from the Catholic perspective.