I hate having to do this.
Defiling the sanctity of something I find precious--fiction. For whatever our beliefs (or non-beliefs), fiction is a personal forum, replete with all the amenities afforded to self-expression. With fiction, it doesn't matter what you believe or think, only that you're honest in the storytelling.
Which is why I find it distasteful to hear myself utter derisive sighs at the 2003 film Saints and Soldiers. A taut, unpretentious, intense, gritty WW2 film, it follows 4 American soldiers and one British pilot in the Nazi-occupied French wilderness during a harsh winter. The US soldiers have escaped a massacre and are on the run when they meet the Brit, who has parachuted from a shot-down aircraft. The Brit carries critical intelligence, and though ill-equipped and outnumbered, they must keep him alive (he's the only one who can read his own code) as they attempt to sneak past a fully-armed German platoon. There are no big-name actors in the film, only a couple of familiar faces. The writing is concise, the pacing is beautiful, and the interaction between the characters adroitly manages to avoid being cliche, for the most part. I was duly impressed with the crafting of the picture. Except for one detail...
The religious crap.
Yes, yes, it's the writer's prerogative. If they--Geoffrey Panos and Matt Whittaker--are spiritual people, and they wish to advance their beliefs through film, more power to them. But being a staunch secularist and atheist, I'm just as welcome to be annoyed at the portrayal of the only vocal atheist character, the medic, as a nihilistic, self-serving twit jaded by the effects of war. And just as annoyed by the pious, humanitarian, and, of course, heroic religious corporal. We learn of his inadvertent sin (NO SPOILERS HERE, DON'T WORRY), and the climax to the film is the one place where the script does become cliche, at least where the latter character is concerned. The resolution made me groan audibly, not because it was predictable and maudlin, but for the religious bias I just decried.
Again, it's their film, and their opinion. They've every right to it, and I applaud them for their expression, especially since it was done so beautifully. But yet again, religious (or shall we be new-agey PC?--"spiritual") short-sightedness threatens to stultify. I mean, of course atheists aren't capable of being humanitarian, right? Of course we're selfish nihilists. Without God pouring "goodness" into our hearts, we're empty vessels in danger of corruption...and so on.
Sigh. Not all religious people are rabid zealots, and it is unfair that so many writers and filmmakers issue the opposite view, but does this kind of bigotry help? Do two wrongs make a right?
Or am I just taking fiction too seriously?