Sunday, 2 March 2014

Knocking on Heaven's Door & Sympathy for the Devil : God & The Devil on Screen

The top five best cinematic representations of God and the Devil, in reverse order.

This could be heaven....

5. The Bible: In The Beginning (1966)

The film's director, John Huston, cast himself as an omnipotent and vengeful vocal only performance in the scene where he kicks Adam and Eve out of Eden.
However, more tangibly, there's also a spellbinding Peter O'Toole as one of Abraham's visions of God.

4. Oh, God! (1977)

This comedy co-staring singer turned actor John Denver features old time vaudevillian George Burns as a crabby God residing in an old folks home who just wants a day's fishing. Burns returned to the role, and played the Devil too (see art work above) in the sequel Oh God, You Devil!

3. Time Bandits (1981)

Knight of the realm Ralph Richardson gives a suitably fusty bureaucratic portrayal of God as a weary civil servant. Too tired to punish Randall the dwarf, he instead says; "I think I'll transfer you to the undergrowth department; brackens, more shrubs, that sort of thing....with a 19% cut in salary, backdated to the beginning of time"

2. Dogma (1999)

Singer Alanis Morissette stars in the hilarious Kevin Smith film as a cute and mute hippie God. Why mute? Well as Alan Rickman's Metatron explains earlier in the film; "Human beings have neither the aural nor psychological capacity to withstand the awesome power of God's true voice. Were you to hear it, your mind would cave in and your heart would explode within your chest...We went through five Adams before we figured that one out!"

1. The Acid House (1998)

The adaptation of Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh's compendium of tales stars Maurice Roeves as a hard drinking, scruffy Glaswegian God in the first story in the anthology 'The Granton Star Cause' which sees God pay a visit to Boab, after being kicked off the titular football team; "You're just like me" God tells Boab, "A lazy, apathetic, slovenly cunt"

Or this could be hell....

5. The Witches of Eastwick (1987)

Jack Nicholson as Darryl Van Horne, aka The Devil. Well, it had to happen sooner or later, right? The key moment for me is the scene where he is sprawled out on the bed alone in silk PJ's, utterly emanoured with his own sensuality.

4. The Devil's Advocate (1997)

Al Pacino as John Milton (geddit?) aka The Devil. It's a typical scenery chewing, shouty performance which makes co-star Keanu Reeves look even more wooden that usual! "Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven!"

3. Angel Heart (1987)

Anything Pacino can do, De Niro can do too. Bobby stars as Louis Cyphre, an anagram of Lucifer (geddit?) in Alan Parker's prime slice of noirish American Gothic. Beautifully underplayed (remember when he was good?) You only have to say long nails and an egg.

2. Needful Things (1993)

An adaptation of a Stephen King novel in which the Devil comes to town in the shape of Leland Gaunt, opening the titular store which has an item for everyone. Max Von Sydow had previously battled Satan as Father Merrin in The Exorcist and had even played Jesus himself in The Greatest Story Ever Told

1. Bedazzled (1967)

One of my all time favourite movies sees Peter Cook star as George Spiggot, the Devil incarnate, utterly filled with inertia; "There was a time when I used to get lots of ideas...I thought up the Seven Deadly Sins in one afternoon. The only thing I've come up with recently is advertising" The postbox scene says more in under one minute and with great insight and humour than any amount of theological essay could ever hope to say.

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