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5 Movies that show what can happen when we leave God out of the picture



Paul Asay - published on 07/07/18

Like the recent 'Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom,' these earlier films show us lessons of fallen kingdoms and paradises lost.

If folks aren’t trying to sell off dinosaur embryos for profit, they’re trying to breed new, terrifying dinos that should never have existed. If their tiny, tasty humanoid creators aren’t playing God, they’re playing up their greed. And as we’ve seen in almost every Jurassic movie — including the most recent, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom — it never works out very well.

Christians are familiar with fallen kingdoms. Our own is fallen — fell before it even really began. Read Genesis or Milton’s Paradise Lost, and you’ll read all about our own untimely eviction from Eden (a place that, in my own imagination, would look a lot like Jurassic’s Isla Nublar). We’re fallen creatures who live in and, in many ways, have built a broken world. And we know that when we do anything apart from God, our own middling efforts are bound to fail.

‘Course, that doesn’t stop us from trying — either in our real world or in our myriad of fictional ones. Like Milton’s Satan, often we believe it’s better to reign in this brokenness than serve our Creator and let Him take the wheel. The Jurassic movies are far from the only flicks that showcase the cost of our own hubris — how our own attempts to create our own Edens invariably go awry. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

The Giver (PG-13, 2014)

Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. When an unnamed calamity (or series of calamities) lays waste to civilization, humanity rebuilds society on the premise that it’s best to do away with all manner of messes, from less-than-perfect babies to uncertain career paths to even strong emotion — love, hate, passion, righteous anger — itself. Only one person in a given community, called the Receiver of Memory, can access the joys, sorrows and literally colorful histories of those dangerous-but-glorious days. But when 16-year-old Jonas prepares to become the community’s new Receiver, he comes to understand that, as painful as those long-ago days were, losing those God-given emotions was an immeasurable loss.

The Weinstein Company

The Giver, based on Lois Lowry’s classic 1993 novel, didn’t exactly set the cinematic world on fire, earning just about $67 million. But it boasts a powerhouse cast, including Oscar winners Jeff Bridges as The Giver and Meryl Streep as the Chief Elder. You can rent it on Amazon Prime and Vudu starting at $2.99, or buy it at iTunes for $9.99.

Logan’s Run (PG, 1976)

Jack Weinberg once said, “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” The world of Logan’s Run, set in 2274, takes the phrase a step or two further: If you’re not going to trust ‘em, why not just kill ‘em?

The 23rd-century world of Logan’s run looks pretty ideal for some, filled as it is with excess and hedonism. And because everyone who reaches the age of 30 is painlessly vaporized, which (the populace is told) renews them, everyone seems quite young and pretty to boot. But obviously killing off the oldsters comes with its share of problems, too — especially for those, like Logan, who are nearing their vaporization day.


Logan’s Run is considered one of the pre-eminent works of American science fiction, and its reputation has only increased. Though it shows its age at times, the film’s clever conceit still packs a punch. You can rent Logan’s Run with an Amazon Prime membership for 99 cents, and it’s available to rent on a host of other streaming platforms as well.

Lost Horizon (Unrated, 1937)

On their way back from a daring rescue mission in the far east, soldier/diplomat Robert Conway (Ronald Colman) and a handful of others have their plane hijacked. The hijackers don’t get very far, though: The plane runs out of fuel and crashes in the Himalayas. Conway and the rest would’ve surely died had they not been rescued and taken to a strange, mysterious land called Shangri-La.

Unlike the other would-be Edens on this list, the peace and tranquility of Shangri-La is no doomed, man-made mirage. The magical valley (where people live far beyond their typical lifespan) seems a natural, God-given creation guarded by wise human protectors — an Eden as it was supposed to be. But there’s a reason why Shangri-La has to remain secret. If our own fallen world invaded its borders, giving would-be thieves and plunderers the opportunity exploit its sublime treasures, it would cease to be Shangri-La.

Columbia Pictures Corporation

Satan insists it’s better to reign in hell than serve in heaven, and we too often follow suit: The folks granted access to this earth-bound heaven know, on the other hand, the beauty of serving — a rare attribute indeed. Lost Horizon can be rented on YouTube, Amazon Prime and other outlets for $2.99.

Metropolis (Unrated, 1927)

The problem with man-made Edens is that they’re inherently only paradises for some. Take the world portrayed in this silent classic: Metropolis is a gleaming city filled with breathtaking towers and tranquil gardens. But only the city’s elite business magnates live in this glittering city: The rest live underground in a veritable hell, manning the machines that make the city run. Such a conflicted, divided society can’t last in perpetuity. Rebellion, led by a beautiful-but-fearsome robot, is in the air, and soon the uneven civilization comes crashing down.

Universum Film

The reception for Metropolis was decidedly mixed when the German film first rolled out, with no less than the great sci-fi author H.G. Wells calling it “silly.” But Metropolis has grown in stature, so much so that in 2001, UNESCO marked it as the first film to be placed in its “Memory of the World Register.” You can watch versions of Metropolis on YouTube and Viki for free. It’s available elsewhere for $2.99.

Tomorrowland (PG, 2015)

If you’re familiar with the movie, you’ll know this is an odd inclusion on this list, given that it hints that we can build our own utopia. But I think it’s a viable, even important, inclusion, and it’ll take a bit of unpacking to explain why.

Tomorrowland, as we first see it, is essentially a future “reality” — an optimistic vision of the future filled with monorails and rocketships to distant planets. But for Frank, a disillusioned inventor (played by George Clooney), the place is a pipe dream: The future is doomed, he tells Casey, a teen who stumbles on his well-fortified compound. There is no hope.

But Casey’s not buying it, and when Casey makes that optimistic statement of defiance, the odds of the earth surviving for a bit longer literally tick up. Not much, mind you, but a bit. And as the movie goes on (insert spoiler warning here), they (and we) realize what’s destroying the future: We are. Our own fears and despairs of the world’s impending doom are turning that self-said doom into a near certainly. The cure? Hope. People willing to work toward a brighter future, despite the odds.


While the movie (available to rent on Amazon, YouTube and other streaming services for $2.99) doesn’t go here, we Christians have that important glowing coal of hope — not in us, but in God. Without an understanding that we’re created by a loving God, and created for a purpose, we can’t build a better future.

Read more:
Why does Pope Francis want us to watch the movie “Babette’s Feast”?

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