The Vatican has subtly shifted its stance on the Blues Brothers, with in-house(ofgod) magazine Osservatore Romano declaring the 33-year-old movie “a modern classic”.
The latest blessing, which coincides with an Italian outing for the movie on the 30th anniversary of John Belushi’s death, represents a reworking of the paper’s 2010 annunciation of the movie as a “Catholic classic”.
At the same time, it says the challenge for the film is “conquering the new generations who are unlikely to appreciate some details inextricably linked at the time of construction”. These include the film’s own old-school Hollywood ensemble dance numbers, which it compares to the “aggressive aesthetics” of today’s videos.
Nevertheless, it continues, it expects modern audiences to remain “open-mouthed in front of a sense of rhythm and energy that are not seen today, a comedy that takes place on the edge of the surreal”.
It also notes that the movie is devoid of “digital technology” and “the arrogance intellectualistic of alchemies postmodern”.
All of which is bound to get the crowds flocking in.
However, Vatican watchers will no doubt be poring over the latest description of the film as a “modern classic” as opposed to the “Catholic classic” tag it merited a couple of years ago.
Fans of the Blues Brothers will of course be familiar with the Catholic imagery that runs through the movie, from its themes of forgiveness, redemption from sin, bailing out the church, giving unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and the smashing up of as many police cars as possible in the process.
The question of being on a “mission from god” clearly complicates matters, as this scene occurs in a pentecostalist or evangelical service, rather than a Catholic service.
It may be that this ecumenical complication has prompted the Papal reclassification. Or it may be simply be that in Church terms a movie that is 33 years old can now be described as modern, as opposed to merely new. ®