Saturday, January 10, 2009

Doubt And Certainty

I saw Doubt, which is based on John Patrick Shanley's play. I was bitter at the time that Shanley's play won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize over my personal favorite, Thom Pain (Based On Nothing). I'm not as sure anymore. I think that Thom Pain (Based On Nothing) has a much more intricate use of the English. Will Eno's play reaches a level of finely crafted prose that, in my humble opinion, reaches William Shakespeare in terms of the beauty, simplicity, and high emotion.

But. On the other hand, Doubt is a play that is clearly going straight into the canon. It has that perfect balance of well-crafted writing, fascinating characters, and ambiguous interpretation that will allow each person who performs in it and each director who directs it to leave their own stamp and interpretation.

Anyways, my point was not to review the movie. I'm not even going to bang on about how disappointing it was to me to see John Patrick Shanley make additions for the screen that showed he didn't have faith that his play would transmit on the screen--blunt visual metaphors inserted into the scenes in a bit of a ham-fisted way, including that Hollywood cliche where there's a storm during the climax and dramatic lines are punctuated by thunder.

But anyways, the conflict of two stubborn people with a backdrop of religion actually made me reflect on the morality of doubt, as one of Andrew Sullivan's readers wrote in response (I quoted it and reacted in A Cogent Comment On War). The context there was the War in Gaza. I used the morality of doubt to talk about the morality of knowledge.

Watch the movie, and while you're watching it, think about Gaza. That's all I'm saying.

No comments: