Wednesday 2 December 2009

A "Kazantzakis" (Spoiler Alert)

What is a "Kazantzakis"?

This is a term that I started using after reading Kazantzakis' The Last Temptation of Christ. This refers to authors, film directors, tv writers and others who "cop out" from pushing their stories where they should really go. In other words, they don't want to deal with the tough issues that their stories often entail.

In The Last Temptation of Christ, we start off with Jesus surviving the crucifixion, meeting with his disciples (including, if I remember correctly, Paul), getting married, being involved in the movement of his message into the larger Greco-Roman world. Kazantzakis is a strong writer and I enjoyed the whole novel until I got to the end & IT WAS ALL A DREAM (foreshadowing of Dallas??) - the Devil's last attempt to keep Jesus from dying "for the greater good". I felt cheated. It was such a bold envisioning of what might have happened if Jesus had actually survived the cross (& this was one of the issues right from the beginning). The discussions on whether or not Paul should be allowed to change the message to take it to the Gentiles were fascinating. The world that Kazantzakis builds on the limited outline in the Acts of the Apostles was brilliant. Then it ends with actual death. I have often suspected that this may not have been what he wanted to do, but it was his way of avoiding the problem of being accused of heresy.

One of the greatest recent example of a Kazantzakis is the introduction of a character in Star Trek Voyageur (played once more by Brad Dourif), who is a murderer because of uncontrollable anger and impulses. Rather than deal with the issues that this brings up in a society that has all but wiped out this type of behaviour, the writers decided to kill him off "heroically" by having him save the ship & its crew. However, the truly more interesting, logical but complex story would have been to kept him on the ship working with the Vulcan to control the murderous impulses. Another lost opportunity for Voyageur - my least favourite of the Star Trek franchise.

Two writers who haven't pulled the Kazantzakis are J. Michael Strazinski (in Bablylon 5 - the Forgiveness episode discussed in blog, May 8, 2009), Josh Whedon (so far in Dollhouse).

Why am I writing this? See the next blog, which is a review of Linden MacIntyre's The Bishop's Man.

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