Friday, November 11, 2016

Scott Derrickson, the Most Interesting Filmmaker in Hollywood

Scott Derickson is probably Hollywood's most interesting filmmaker, primarily focusing on writing and directing horror movies like The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Sinister, and Deliver Us from Evil, and more recently offering his take on the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Doctor Strange. This interest in movies with a strong good vs. evil motif piques Derrickson’s interest because of his Christian faith. In a 2007 interview Derrickson said in an interview about the horror genre:

"I love the horror genre for how cinematic it is. I gravitated, I think, initially, toward the horror genre because, of all the genres, I think it is the genre that is most friendly to the subject matter of faith and belief in religion. The more frightening and sort of dark and oppressive a movie is, the more free you are to explore the supernatural and explore faith."

Doctor Strange shared much of the same appeal for Derrickson. But instead of just being a film about simply vanquishing an ancient evil, it is a film about the internal battle that we all fight. This idea of Strange’s personal and spiritual development seems to spark something in Derrickson as a Christian. A year ago he tweeted an image of the Sorcerer Supreme with a quote by Thomas à Kempis, the author of The Imitation of Christ: “Who has a harder fight than he who is striving to overcome himself?”

He explains:

"It’s about the circumstances they’re having to overcome and what they’re having to learn. There have been a lot of good boxing movies in the history of cinema and there’s always the top contender that your hero’s got to fight at the end, but no good boxing movie is about that conflict. It’s really always about an individual finding out who they are, what they’re capable of, are they strong enough to build themselves up to be able to accomplish something like that. I think in this case it’s great because it’s not about physical achievement, it’s not about a character manifesting himself in physical strength, it really is about getting past one’s ego and coming to recognize that true growth and true power come from a sense of surrender to something greater than yourself and service to something greater than yourself."

When pressed to consider how his Christian faith influenced his work on Doctor Strange, Derrickson observed that he’s gotten away from the impulsive need to express his own point of view as he’s matured as a filmmaker.

“In this age where the word ‘Christian’ conjures up angry, vocal, closed-minded Christians and the word ‘atheist’ conjures up images of angry, closed-minded atheists and all of these terms just become fighting words,” Derrickson says, “I really liked the idea that the comics and the movie therefore could just be a third thing where we’re talking about magic and we’re talking about mysticism and we’re talking about possibilities and other realities and places where we all know religious ideas and scientific ideas overlap, even though we’re not really playing with either in this movie.”

To Derrickson, the allure of Doctor Strange doesn’t spring from a desire to conform the story to his perspective, but rather comes from the places the source material’s view of the universe syncs up with his own mindset. “I can’t help but view the world mystically,” he reflects. “It’s how I see it. I’m not a strict materialist. I think there’s much more to the world than what we see with our five senses. I think I’m a good choice for this material because I see the world that way.”

Read more here.