Saturday, April 16, 2005

Cinematic Visions of God.

This afternoon, I had the pleasure of viewing the Jim Carrey vehicle Bruce Almighty for the first time. Movies in which one of the characters is God Himself (Morgan Freeman) can be a bit unnerving at first. Is this blasphemy? Should I feel guilty for being entertained by this? Nah -- the character was handled with respect, if not reverence, and provides an interesting take on the responsibilities that go along with being omnipotent. All of the mockery was directed at Bruce, the human who is temporarily endowed with all of God's powers. All interaction between God and Bruce takes place away out of sight of other humans -- or so we think, until the very end of the film. If you haven't seen the movie, I won't give it away, but trust me -- the ending will have you laughing while slapping your forehead and saying, "D'OH!"

The DVD includes a long series of deleted and alternate scenes, including sequences involving Bigfoot, spontaneous human combustion, and the miracle of the shrimp. One deleted scene follows a conversation between God and Bruce atop Mount Everest. God returns Bruce to the alley behind a restaurant where Bruce had run out in the middle of a date with his girlfriend (Jennifer Aniston), who confronts him to find out why is suddenly acting strangely. God is still there, but only Bruce can see him. Bruce screams out his frustration with God, causing Jennifer Aniston to wonder what his problem is.

I have seen something like this on television several times this year. It had not occurred to me since I had not seen this movie until today, but I am convinced that the character of Gaius Baltar on Battlestar Galactica is at least partially inspired by Bruce Almighty. Consider the similarities: Bruce talks to God, who is unseen by everyone else, and is given special responsibilities by God; Baltar talks to Cylon agent Number Six, who is unseen by everyone else, and who tells him that he is part of God's plan. Bruce, remarkably frustrated with the task of having to listen to everyone's prayers and answering them, expresses his anguish by bulging out his eyes and running his hands through his hair; Baltar, remarkably frustrated with the task of having to test the blood of every single person in the fleet to find out if any of them are Cylon agents, expresses his anguish by bulging out his eyes and running his hands through his hair. And the deleted scene with God, Bruce, and the girl in the alley is reflected in a scene in the BSG episode "Kobol's Last Gleaming, pt. 1", in which Baltar, speaking to Number Six, seems to tell President Roslin that he is not her "plaything".

Now that BSG is in repeats, I am going to give each episode an intense second look, and whenever I see Baltar getting frustrated with Number Six and his role in the fleet, I am going to picture Jim Carrey in the role in place of James Callis. Try it and see what you think.

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