Oh My God

(PG) Hopsctoch DVD

Defining the nature of God turns out to be harder than Peter Rodger thought.

Outfitted with “a camera and a hat”, the British commercial photographer gathered footage for more than two and a half years. He visited the United States, Tibet, Australia, Israel, Bali, several African nations, Japan and Vatican City.

He interviewed, among others, schoolchildren, a gun store owner, monks, priests, imams, rabbis, cancer kids, Ringo Starr, Hugh Jackman, Jack Thompson, Las Vegas illusionist David Copperfield and even eccentric director Baz Luhrmann.

The movie itself is a pastiche of tourist photos, confusingly contradictory sound bites that don’t seem to reveal much and celebrity interviews that are supposed to add gravitas but further water down the question of “who is God”.

The main failing of the film is that is doesn’t question any organised religion, doesn’t probe, but simply records the musings of a variety of interesting people.

It’s the sort of project that could be edited down to five Twitter-worthy minutes without much trouble, but instead one sits through 98 minutes of this “insight”.

One Kabbalist says God doesn’t exist, yet he believes in him. An Islamic fundamentalist says the Koran condemns non-Muslims to hell. A California imam says he’s got it all wrong.

Kids whose homes were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina say God protects them. Ringo explains that “God is love”. Jack Thompson says, “God represents that which we are.”

Bumper sticker sentiments that don’t add much to this cobbled-together mess.

There are myriad clichéd questions like “why does God allow suffering in the world” and “doesn’t every person believe in the same God”. But even these could have been excused had the discussion been enlightened by actual theologians, instead of verbose director Baz Luhrmman.

Perhaps one of the real lucid discussion points is about the nature of extremism — that often much violence is performed in the name of religion and why this is the case — but the lack of depth even given to this thought waters down the whole enterprise.

Bob Geldof, who appears annoyed to have been recruited into the project, tartly declares the whole God idea “rubbish”; this hopefully is his appraisal of Oh My God when he sees it.

Adrian Drayton

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