“Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts,…” – C. S. Lewis, “The Screwtape Letters”
Part 1 of 2, “Trumpets Sound” (Update: Readers are encouraged to read the second part of the critique to “Revelation, the End of Days: Road to Babylon”.)
“Revelation, The End of Days” premiered Monday, December 29th, at 9:00 p.m. EST on the History Channel. It is an apocalyptic fictional television mini-series based on the Bible. The beginning of the program claims to be a dramatic interpretation of biblical prophecies. Eschatologists, biblicists, and pre-tribulationists will notice it deviates from Scripture and The Book of Revelation.
Apocalyptic fiction is a popular sub-genre of the speculative genre, especially among Christians. In a world that is more volatile as time passes, previews of “Revelation, The End of Days” promised to deliver a futuristic perspective according to biblical prophecies. Yet, it diverted. What went wrong?
- The filming method – The shaky camera, quick editing and news reel snippets techniques are reminiscent of movies such as “Cloverfield”. The camera effect is to convey a realistic chaos to filming. It is not filmed for the average television viewer. The gyrating film method can cause viewers to experience motion sickness. Commercials were more visually calming then watching the television mini-series.
- Questionable Hurricane Katrina footage – The beginning scene of “Revelation, The End of Days” stated, “News reports and other scenes in this program have been fictionalized.” There were questionable news footage which appeared to be survivors of Hurricane Katrina. If true and this was actual footage of Katrina survivors in tragic circumstances, it was offensive. Exploiting others’ painful real-life experiences without their consent for ratings is distasteful.
- Liberties with Scripture – The whole premise of “Revelation, The End of Days” is to dramatize biblical prophecies of The End Times and The Book of Revelation. Theologians debate whether there will be a Pre-tribulation Rapture, in which case believers of Christ will be saved from the pending wrath of God. The theory that only children will be raptured is not in the Bible. The mini-series introduces a potential Anti-Christ in the character of Charles Brandon (David Bacque), the governmental head of DERA (Disaster Emergency and Relief Agency). Maybe in part two of “Revelation, The End of Days”, there will be a final segment devoted to the Gospel of Christ and the message of the cross. It is doubtful.
- The ridiculous – Why would a parent send his child out alone into a dangerous lightning storm with a camcorder? If all children disappeared globally, that would be the most predominant news story of all time. Instead, scenes of weather and war dominated the television mini-series. Catastrophic weather and war have always existed, but all children disappearing would break the world into unprecedented global despair. The DERA head official was featured on the news telling parents their children may have been infected with a photophobia virus. He suggests children “crawled” into darkness to escape light. The news anchor irresponsibly rephrases his statement with “all the children are dead.” Yet, parents began checking darken areas of their neighborhoods for missing children. Is the pandemic vampirism? That is definitely not biblical. To add more insult to viewers’ intelligence, there is a futuristic news clip of a Middle East Peace agreement celebration. It has a gaffe which featured children celebrating with the adults, after the television mini-series made it clear all children disappeared.
The problem with “Revelation, The End of Days” is the content scope is too broad. It would have been better if the mini-series began with a smaller scale and expanded in part two. There were two highlights of interest in part one of “Revelation, the End of Days”.
The first highlight would have been an excellent stand-alone premiere episode. It is the sub-plot of two medical scientists who were fired from their medical research company. Senior biochemist of Bellerophon Pharma, Dr. Oliver Waters (M. E. Lewis) and research scientist Meg Shepherdson (Claire Armstrong) were working on Panlixa. Panlixa was a newly developed vaccine for a mysterious contagion called, “7HC.”
The shaky camera technique works well in scenes involving the two whistle blowers’ investigation of missing vials of 7HC. 7HC is an acronym for seven-headed cell, which is symbolic of the seven headed beast in Revelation. Most interpretations of the seven headed beast in Revelation is seven governmental heads of countries. 7HC is causing a light hypersensitivity mutation in lab animals. They believed the DERA created the pandemic as a bio-terror attack. Was it deliberate? If so, why? It would be nice to see more development of this sub-plot in part two.
The other highlight is the television mini-series may cause others to read the Bible for themselves and decrease biblical illiteracy and inaccurate interpretations.
Overall, it seems the History Channel realizes there is a large audience for the speculative genre. Recently, the History Channel appears to be throwing anything speculative onto the small screen to see what sticks. Being a speculative genre enthusiast does not mean diminished intelligence and any other-worldliness content is acceptable. Speculative genre enthusiasts are selective. There are too many quality speculative pieces to waste time viewing and reading poorly written content. Nevertheless, something does stick from the television mini-series “Revelation, The End of Days”, motion sickness.
(Read part two, the critique of “Revelation, the End of Days: Road of Babylon.”)