Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Seeing Doubt

This evening I went to see Doubt with a friend. I have to recommend it; I nearly cried at the climactic closing scene. Here is a fascinating - and plausible - analysis of what may have happened in the film's subtext. A few notes:

*Fr Flynn wears a cassock-alb - over his cassock. If cassock-albs were in fact around in 1964, priests weren't wearing them over cassocks.

*He also wears his stole over his chasuble.

*And an anachronistic looking floppy-collared ("monastic") violet chasuble.

*I didn't notice any maniples, and these were not made optional until the following year.

*The congregation sings the Taizé chant "Ubi caritas et amor." Was it written yet?

*They also sing "Praise God from whom all blessings flow" to Old 100th. In a Roman Catholic church in 1964?

I note that the film was shot at the Church of St Luke in the Fields, a liberal Catholic Episcopal church in New York.

I sometimes wonder how much these filmmakers paid their technical advisors, because they could have just bought me lunch and I'd have caught several errors that their consultants let slip through.

I also today bought The Screwed-Up Life of Charlie the Second, and depending on when I fall asleep tonight may finish before I do. I'll be reviewing it here.


Rachel said...

I really need to see Doubt. I've heard some very good reviews.

Re: Technical consultants for films: When I was still gunning for a career as a professional medievalist, my great dream was to be a consultant on a Beowulf movie. In fact, my supervisor got this fun job while I was working on my PhD, and he said they pretty much ignored everything he told them. He does boast, however, that he got them to edit out a scene of a viking "rogering a corpse" during the opening, so I suppose all was not lost.

Tay Moss said...

My OT professor from Yale, Robert Wilson, was one of the consultants for the Disney life-of-Moses film "The Prince of Egypt." The film makers claimed to have consulted a whole pile of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scholars. What that really meant, according to Professor Wilson, was that he received an advanced copy of the script with a letter requesting notes from him.

So he spent a lot of time carefully writing notes for the writers about what they had drafted. He was quite surprised when the film he saw was identical to the draft he had so carefully critiqued! In his case, being consultant merely meant having his name attached without any regard for his expertise! Lol.


Davis said...

I worked with a film some years back to supply the necessary vestments from my parish sacristy. They wanted a -red- set for a requiem in a tradition mass! I was able to correct them and it went off well, but the stole over the chassie is always their downfall as it adds "drama" the vestments in the eye of the costume folks.

I still want to see doubt.

Mockingbird said...

The Taize chant "Ubi caritas" was not yet written in 1964, at least according to


The fretted zither at the beginning of the film is possibly intended to indicate that the parish was founded by Bavarian or Austrian Catholics, which would account for the use of German chorales and other good music in the services of that parish.