Rather unexpectedly, the Vatican has released a list of 45 films they feel deserve special recognition. Divided into three areas — religion, values and art — the Vatican’s choices do not ignore the genres of science-fiction and fantasy: Metropolis, Nosferatu, 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Wizard of Oz were all recognized.
All excellent choices, of course, but isn’t 2001 a puzzling choice? Let’s recap the highlights of the film: an ebony monolith mysteriously appears to a group of primates, evolving them to a higher plane of consciousness but also imbuing them with a desire to kill from both self-preservation and murder. 45 Million Years Later, a soulless robot — achieving radio contact with a similar monolith orbiting around Jupiter — makes the same evolutionary jump and murders out of self-defense. At the end of the film, astronaut Dave Bowman makes contact with the Jupiter monolith, making a final jump to a hallucinatory plane of consciousness that turns him into the Star Child, an immortal and inhuman being.
The Vatican is certainly right to make mention of 2001: it is definitely an important film. But its message hardly fits into the theology of Judeo-Christianity. 2001 says some disturbing, decidedly anti-Christian things about the history of man and the nature of the soul. You can’t help but admire the Vatican for including a film that is so challenging to many aspects of Catholic dogma: ideally, religion shouldn’t use subscription to its own belief system as a criterion for recognizing art.
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