Thursday, November 21, 2013

LEFT BEHIND starring Nicholas Cage

A Hollywood movie version of the Left Behind series is coming to the big screen in 2014 with Nicholas Cage in the role of Rayford Steele. Presumably, the film will cover the same material that the previous independent Christian trilogy of films dramatized, although it's likely to be a different structure, and with new twists that may include other parts of the books. Will it be as big as Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ"? Probably not, but time will tell. There are certainly many millions of readers who couldn't get enough of the Armageddon story, based on Revelations in the Bible. Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins first wrote the original book, then expanded it to a trilogy, then to a dozen titles, then to 16 titles and three video games, as readers demanded more. Alas, the actual writing quality became progressively more pedantic as the ultimate example of a "stretch job" in order to follow the money trail to its bitter end (a la Fast & Furious 6.) LaHaye, now 87 and a multi-millionaire, lives in a "heavenly" mansion in Palm Springs, but the authors had no idea it was going to be as big as it became, and soon wished they hadn't sold film rights to Canadian Cloud Ten Pictures. Note this conversation excerpt from an interview I had with them at the time:   

LOWE:  Will there be more Left Behind movies?

LAHAYE:  It depends on whether I win my lawsuit on the reversion of rights.

LOWE:  You mean you want the movie rights back from those who did the films?

LAHAYE:  Correct. I think that the Rapture is the greatest opportunity to reach a maximum number of people when portrayed through film. It should have been quality equal to what Hollywood can do, and be shown in the secular media as a means of reaching millions through the most powerful vehicle of the human mind--movie film. That was my original dream.

Armageddon stories have since moved into cataclysm, zombies, vampires, with movies like The Road, and even Brad Pitt weighing in. Sociologists would say that it's because we feel anxiety about the future, the stability of markets, overpopulation, depletion of resources, pollution, war, and the inability of leaders to solve these problems. LaHaye and Jenkins would say that the world is doomed and is shortly to be replaced by a new Earth after the moon turns to blood, the faithful are raptured, and Satan (along with everyone else) are turned into hell. So why worry about global warming? If I had to guess, it's just another supernatural movie to Cage, after playing a chain wielding demon on a motorcycle. My own one-shot foray into the End Times as a novel involved the Rapture and coffee--Awakening Storm--based on my stage play "Almost Persuaded," which was produced at BJU (where LaHaye graduated) and Maranatha Baptist Bible College (with the president in the lead.) The audiobook version included sound effects, and was narrated by Barrett Whitener, the plot involving a young man (haunted by nightmares) who overuses caffeine, and a woman who tries to use his case in an effort to regain custody of her son from the same greedy and mesmerizing TV preacher who haunts them both.         

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