Monday, August 6, 2012

The Last Supper, This Time With More Grenades

Welcome back everyone! It's been a while since we've God Spam'd together, and there's so very much to catch up on. Chick-Fil-A. Hollywood Bible movies. The first Mormon Presidential candidate and the first Mormon-themed Broadway musical! It's all a little much to jump into at once, so let's start with something simple.

This movie poster. (Larger version here.)

This is the new promo image for The Expendables 2, modeled after Leonardo Da Vinci's The Last Supper. Interesting choice, seeing as there's no food at this table; just semi-automatic weapons, bottles of booze, and artfully arranged platters of grenades. On the other hand, there are twelve action stars flanking Sylvester Stallone, just as twelve Disciples surrounded Jesus in the original artwork. (It's far too early in the morning to address the Sly-Stallone-as-Jesus issue.) Which makes the arrangement seem kind of inevitable. You can just imagine the art department at Lionsgate scratching their heads, going, How do we fit 13 stars equally into one eye-catching image? And really, no one has come up with a better composition than Leo did 500 years ago.

The weapons thing is disturbing, though. Maybe I'm just extra-squeamish after the Dark Knight shooting, but adding Uzis and machetes into the Last Supper (a moment in which Jesus chose self-sacrifice over violent retaliation) feels so very wrong. Then again, it also demonstrates how far removed that Da Vinci image has become from the Biblical context. Last Supper homages have become so common that they're more like parodies of one another than references to the original work. A few of the better ones:

The Sopranos, Vanity Fair photo shoot

Battlestar Galactica, promo art
The Simpsons, screengrab


In contrast, here's the very first Last Supper parody in pop culture history (as far as I know), from Luis Bunuel's 1961 film Viridiana. The film, a satire of Catholic hypocrisy, was banned outright in Spain, with this scene being the most controversial. It's clear that Bunuel chose this particular scene for a reason -- not just because he had thirteen actors who needed to be aesthetically arranged.

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