Oupensky: In Search of the Miraculous and Gurdjieff: Meetings with Remarkable Men (documentary)

 

Here’s a classic film about the spiritual quest, based on Gurdjieff’s book of the same title:

Meetings with Remarkable Men

Silent Film (1903): Life and Passion of Jesus Christ : The Annunciation

This is an early (1903) silent film about the life of Christ.  The camera is stationary, which gives the impression of filmed theater, and the story is told in a series of scenes. I will here provide a description of the first scene of the movie, the annunciation. My remarks are borrowed from Catherine O’Brien’s analysis in the Celluloid Madonna.

In the annunciation scene, Mary is pictured holding a water jar, a detail suggestive of wells, which are symbolic places for betrothals in the Bible. The apocryphal Protevangelium of James depicts the annunciation to Mary in a domestic setting.  Mary meets the angel upon returning from a well.

Here, in this movie, the angel once he appears has a lily in his hand, a symbol of purity.  The angel fades in to make its presence felt and fades out to disappear. The angel hovers in mid-air. Mary bows to acknowledge the angel’s holiness. The angel moves lips and makes hand gestures to express the message that he carries from heaven. No fear or protest is indicated but rather devotion and acquiescence as Mary bows to receive the message and in assent.

As Mary rises and raises her arms to heaven, the gesture indicates that she is making herself a handmaid to the Lord in an historically significant act of volition.

The entire movie is visually quite fascinating. The absence of sound heightens the visual effects.

Question: What are the advantages of silent film, aesthetically, in portraying the life of Jesus?

Miracle of the Sun (1917)

A hundred and one years ago at Fatima in Portugal, there occurred an apparition of Mary, called the Miracle of the Sun, which is said to be the largest attested miracle in modernity, witnessed by 75,000 people.

Whether or not one is Catholic — or sympathetic to Marian devotions — it is striking that this apparition seems to mark the end of one era and the beginning of the new. The old world has died; modernity is born.

The Fatima seers, who speak from the perspective of the old world,  prophesied wars (World War I and II), apostasy, and scandals in the Church. Presumably, the fate of Russia was at stake since it was prophesied that Russia would fall into atheism and the Church would lose its honor.

Some Catholics argue that the old religious world that has been lost ought to be restored. The traditional rites and sacraments, together with ecclesiastical teachings and the preaching of the Gospel, offered people disciplines and instructions for leading holy and good lives. Others welcome the so-called secular movements (e.g., socialism and feminism) that are perceived to have displaced the old hierarchies and to have ignited crisis and critique.

With regard to the miracle of the Sun — and Marian apparitions, generally — skeptics point to the ideologically slanted messages that come to seers and visionaries through Mary. If the mother of God does appear to people, what accounts for the sometimes sectarian and partisan quality of her inspired ideas? Or, shall we concede that Marian messages are filtered through the beliefs of her visionaries and seers rather than being transmitted verbatim or reproduced with a documentary accuracy?

The faithful who take seriously Marian apparitions, by contrast, claim that the messages are sound and creditworthy. Like the prophets of old, Mary issues warnings while advising repentance. To her seers, she offers hopeful remedies (e.g. praying the rosary) and promises for the renewal of faith and the wellbeing of the world.

Whatever one’s position in regard to Fatima and Marian visions, the Miracle of the Sun is a phenomenon to contend with. Can this miracle witnessed by so many be justified by naturalistic causality or explained away as the consequence of  collective hysteria? Or did the veil open between heaven and earth on that day, Oct 13, 1917, one hundred and one years ago?

I am linking to a couple of videos about the Miracle of the Sun and to some discussions and critiques of the Catholic Church with regard to the Fatima prophecies and the three secrets involved. It is debated whether the third secret given at Fatima has actually been revealed. There is also a possible fourth secret.  I link also to an article about another Marian apparition, given to Agnes in Japan, which occurred on Oct 13, 1973,  on the anniversary of Fatima.

 

General Book on Fatima: Our Lady of Fatima Paperback – October 1, 1954
by William T. Walsh

Article about Vatican Deception, documentary on Fatima: Vatican Deception Documentary : Fatima

Fourth Secret Book

Our Lady of Akita: Agnes

 

 

Miracle of Our Lady: Czech Opera by Martinu

How amazing to find a contemporary opera about the miracles of Mary. See below for the youtube of the music.

(Sadly, I cannot yet find the English translation of the songs.)

The opera, from the twentieth century (1930’s) by the Czech composer Martinu, consists of  a cycle of plays about Mary. (If I find the English translation for the libretto, I will update this post accordingly.)

About the Martinu, see Link:

Life of Martinu