Saturday, 26 May 2007

Around the World in 80 Days

For ages now I've been meaning to stick something up about this film. (It's doubtless a perennial complaint among self-conscious bloggers, but I'll say it anyway - 'why is there never enough time to post stuff? And when there is time, why do I always want to do something else?' Probably something to do with having a high opionion of my mutterings and opinions until I actually have to share them with my readership of 4...)

Steve Coogan and Jackie Chan star in this cartoonish romp from 2004. Chan was a favourite of mine in my teenage years - Police Story, Police Story 2, Police Story 3 (nothing like a good franchise), Armour of God, Armour of God II, etc... - and he didn't disappoint in this film, which genially abused Jules Verne and raised a few laughs. The cultural vignettes and hilarious cameos (including Arnold Schwarzenegger) were definitely worth it. It seems rather too convenient that the actress playing 'generic attractive French female lead' was called Cecile De France, but apparently it is her real name.

What quite took my breath away was the startling anti-creationist slant. The character of Lord Kelvin (who appears in all the London scenes) is as an old-fashioned, obscurantist establishment figure, who confidently blusters about a young earth and about theology in contrast to the dynamic pioneer Phileas Fogg. Now, I'm no expert on Kelvin in real life, but I don't think this is quite fair to the guy. He might have made some comments regarding radio and 'planes that now seem silly, but he was hardly a young-earth creationist in the mould of Henry Morris and co., and he was an innovative scientist and engineer with a lively Christian faith. It was a cheap trick on the part of the film-makers to take a swipe at young-earth creationists and try to equate them with a denial of the possibility of heavier-than-air flight.

The icing on the cake, however, was the prostration of Fogg before the Buddha towards the end of the film, after a neat interpolation of a mini martial arts movie about three-quarters of the way through. So, rationalism "defeats" biblical thought, only to be swiftly supplanted by eastern mysticism. A remarkable tour of recent Western cultural history!

And I thought it was just a silly comedy ;-)-