Dogma (film)[edit | edit source]

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[edit | edit source]

Dogma is a 1999 American comedy film written and directed by Kevin Smith; he also co-stars in the film along with an ensemble cast that includes Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Linda Fiorentino, Alan Rickman, Bud Cort, Salma Hayek, Chris Rock, Jason Lee, Jason Mewes, George Carlin, Janeane Garofalo, and Alanis Morissette.

Brian O'Halloran and Jeff Anderson, the stars of Smith's debut film Clerks, have cameo roles, as do Smith regulars Scott Mosier, Dwight Ewell, Walt Flanagan, and Bryan Johnson.

The 4th film set in the View Askewniverse is a hypothetical-scenario film revolving around the Catholic Church and Catholic belief, which caused organized protests and much controversy in many countries, delaying release of the film and leading to at least two death threats against Smith.[1][2] The film follows two fallen angels, Loki and Bartleby, who, through a loophole in Catholic Dogma, find a way to get back into Heaven after being cast out by God. However, as existence is founded on the principle that God is infallible, their success would prove God wrong and thus undo all creation. The last scion and two prophets are sent by the Voice of God to stop them.

Aside from some scenes filmed on the New Jersey shore, most of the film was shot in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Contents[edit | edit source]

[show]*1 Plot

[edit] Plot[edit | edit source]

An old man outside a skee ball arcade in New Jersey is beaten into a coma by three hockey stick-wielding teenagers, the Stygian Triplets.

Two fallen angelsBartleby (Ben Affleck), a watcher, and Loki (Matt Damon), formerly the Angel of Death — were banished from Heaven after an inebriated Loki, with Bartleby's encouragement, resigned. Exiled to Wisconsin, the pair see their salvation when a church in Red Bank, New Jersey celebrates its centennial anniversary with a plenary indulgence. By passing through the doors of the church they can have their sins forgiven and upon death regain access to Heaven. They fail to realize that this will overrule the word of God and destroy existence. [1][2]Metatron, aka the Voice of GodMetatron (Alan Rickman), the seraph who acts as the Voice of God, appears to Bethany Sloane (Linda Fiorentino) and tasks her with preventing Bartleby and Loki's return. Bethany resists the mission as she lost her faith in God due to her infertility and subsequent divorce. Bethany is attacked by the Stygian Triplets and saved by Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith), two prophets whom Metatron said would appear. She is also aided by Rufus (Chris Rock), the thirteenth apostle left out of the Bible because he is black, and Serendipity (Salma Hayek), a Muse with writer's block.

Loki suggests getting back on God's "good side" before their return; Bartleby thinks it unnecessary but complies. They kill the board of directors of a company whose mascot is a golden calf for idolatry and various personal sins. The demon Azrael (Jason Lee), a former Muse, warns them that the forces of Heaven and Hell are attempting to kill them, as Satan will not let them succeed where he has failed and make him look bad, and Loki's killings are counterproductive. The angels and Bethany's party unwittingly meet on a train, where a drunk Bethany reveals her mission and the consequences of the angels' plan to Bartleby. Bartleby threatens to kill Bethany before a melee ensues in which Bartleby and Loki are thrown off the train.

Bartleby snaps, ranting that existence would be better off destroyed as God shows man infinite patience while angels are punished after one transgression. Loki is alarmed by the ramifications of their plan and Bartleby's sudden change in personality, and becomes reluctant to continue, comparing Bartleby's attitude to that of Lucifer. Bartleby orders him onwards, claiming nothing can stop them.

Bethany learns the reason she was chosen for the mission: she is the Last Scion, the last descendant of Mary and Joseph and hence last relative of Jesus Christ. Metatron comforts Bethany as she copes with this revelation, and the group ponders who orchestrated the angels' plan. Metatron explains that God went to Earth in human form to play skeeball and has gone missing; apparently, someone knew enough to incapacitate God, leaving Him alive but unable to return to Heaven. The group deduces that Lucifer has as much to lose if Bartleby and Loki succeed as anyone else. Arriving at the church, they fail to persuade Cardinal Glick (George Carlin) to cancel the celebration.

When Bartleby and Loki reach the church, Bartleby begins massacring all in attendance. At a nearby bar, Azrael captures the heroes and explains that he is the mastermind behind the Angels' plan, wanting to destroy existence rather than spend eternity in Hell, but forced to manipulate Bartleby and Loki as demons cannot become human. Silent Bob kills Azrael with Cardinal Glick's blessed golf club; Jay, Rufus and Serendipity kill the Stygian Triplets by dunking their heads into sinks filled with holy water sanctified by Bethany.

The heroes reach the church before Bartleby and Loki enter. Loki's wings have been torn off by Bartleby; he is now human and decides to help the others. Bartleby kills Loki and fights off Rufus, Serendipity and Bob. Jay mentions John Doe Jersey (Bud Cort), a comatose patient in a hospital across the street who was attacked outside a skeeball arcade and is being kept on life support. Hoping this is God trapped in mortal form, Bethany and Bob race to the hospital. Jay foolishly shoots off Bartleby's wings with a submachine gun, turning him human.

Bethany removes the life support, allowing God to escape while inadvertently killing Bethany as a martyr. In the form of a woman, God (Alanis Morissette) manifests at the church before a remorseful Bartleby, and kills him with the power of Her voice. Silent Bob shows up with Bethany's bloodstained corpse. God resurrects Bethany and conceives another Scion inside her. The heavenly beings return to Heaven through the church doors, leaving Bethany, Jay and Bob to reflect on events.

[edit] Cast[edit | edit source]

[edit] Reception[edit | edit source]

The film was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay as well as a Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America honor for Best Screenplay.

The film opened at #3 in its opening weekend with approximately $8,669,945, behind The Bone Collector (the previous week's champion) and the newly released Pokémon: The First Movie.

Critics were mostly mixed to positive about the film; it has a 68 percent "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It did better with fans, ranking 82 percent by the Rotten Tomatoes community. On Metacritic, the film received a rating of 62 percent based on 36 reviews, with an 8.4/10 by fans based on 21 votes.

The film was screened out of competition at the 1999 CannesFilm Festival.[3]

Production[edit | edit source]

  • Before shooting, Kevin Smith warned Jason Mewes that he needed to be on point due to the involvement of "real actors," such as Alan Rickman. As a result, Mewes memorized not only his dialogue, but the dialogue for every character in the entire screenplay, much to Smith's surprise.[4]
  • According to Kevin Smith's comments on the Dogma publicity stills on the film's official website, there was going to be a final face-off between Silent Bob on one side and the redhead Triplet and the Golgothan on the other side in the hospital. The Triplet would come back with a burned-out face, and at the end of the battle, God would turn the Golgothan into flowers. The scene was dropped from the final cut of the film.[5]

[edit] Controversy[edit | edit source]

Over time, the filmmakers received over 300,000 pieces of hate mail, which Smith posted on his website. Among these were "two-and-three-quarters" death threats. Smith explained this in his movie An Evening with Kevin Smith: One of the letters was threatening to start with, then became more friendly further on. The Catholic League in particular attacked Disney and Miramax, the original distributors, for being anti-Catholic. The film was originally scheduled to come out in November 1998, but was pushed back to November 1999 in the hopes the controversy would die down. When that didn't work, Disney sold the film's distribution rights to Lions Gate Entertainment.

When the film actually came out, Kevin Smith and his friend Bryan Johnson participated in a protest at the Sony Multiplex in Eatontown, New Jersey, carrying a sign which read "Dogma is Dogshit." A news crew captured the incident and broadcast an interview with Smith (though he wouldn't give his real name and gave Johnson's as his own) on News 12 New Jersey.[6]

[edit] Sequel[edit | edit source]

In late November 2005, Smith was asked about a possible Dogma sequel on the message boards. His response:

So weird you should ask this, because ever since 9/11, I have been thinking about a sequel of sorts. I mean, the worst terrorist attack on American soil was religiously bent. In the wake of said attack, the leader of the "Free World" outed himself as pretty damned Christian. In the last election, rather than a quagmire war abroad, the big issue was whether or not gay marriage was moral. Back when I made 'Dogma', I always maintained that another movie about religion wouldn't be forthcoming, as 'Dogma' was the product of 28 years of religious and spiritual meditation, and I'd kinda shot my wad on the subject. Now? I think I might have more to say. And, yes — the Last Scion would be at the epicenter of it. And She'd have to be played by Alanis. And we'd need a bigger budget — because the entire third act would be the Apocalypse. Scary thing is this: the film would have to touch on Islam. And unlike the Catholic League, when those cats don't like what you do, they issue a death warrant on yer ass. And now that I've got a family, I'm not as free to stir the shit-pot as I was when I was single, back when I made 'Dogma'. I mean, now I've gotta think about more than my own safety and well-being. But regardless — yeah, a 'Dogma' followup's been swimming around in my head for some time now."[7]

[edit] References[edit | edit source]

  1. ^ Kimberley Jones (August 10, 2001). "Mr. Smith Goes to Austin". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-06-18.
  2. ^ Andy Seiler (October 24, 2001). "Kevin Smith is seldom Silent". USA Today. Retrieved 2009-06-18.
  3. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Dogma". Retrieved 2009-10-11.
  4. ^ "My Boring-Ass Life". March 29, 2006. Retrieved 2009-06-18.
  5. ^ "Dogma - Through the eyes of the director - The Scenes That Never Were". Retrieved 2009-06-18.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Kevin Smith (November 27, 2005). "The View Askewniverse Message Board". Retrieved 2009-06-18.

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