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Review of ‘Deadly Ignorance’: Dissection of Characters

By Qiuling

Recently, I watched a movie entitled Deadly Ignorance. Upon seeing the title, I couldn’t help admiring the director’s wisdom and talents because just the title had whetted my appetite for the movie. In the world, people die from various causes but seldom have we heard that ignorance can bring about death. It reminded me of a sentence in the Bible, “fools die for want of wisdom” (Proverbs 10:21). After watching the movie, I came to understand the true meaning of the sentence. In the movie the protagonist is so ignorant that he believes the rumors in seeking and waiting for the Lord’s return, and almost misses the good chance to welcome the Lord’s return. What a dreadful ignorance it is!

The originality of this movie lies in its detailed characterization. Each role has its distinctive characteristic, which not only emphasizes the subject of the movie to varying degrees but also can resonate with people. Next, let’s take a look at the various characters in Deadly Ignorance.

Like all the other Christians, the protagonist Zheng Muen is eager for the Lord’s return and being raptured into the kingdom of heaven, which can be seen from his name. (“Muen” means being eager for the Lord’s salvation.) He believes in the Lord with great enthusiasm and donates much money to the church, so he is well-regarded and welcomed by the pastor and elders. After hearing the gospel of the kingdom preached by his aunt and reading God’s word, he confirms in his heart that it is God’s voice. So, he is very excited and begins to investigate and seek the true way actively. But later, faced with the rumors from the CCP and the blandishments and chicanery of the pastor, he, ignorant and unable to discern, hesitates and blindly believes them, sinking into perplexity and pains. So many times has he fallen into the spiritual battles, losing the direction and struggling painfully in the dilemma. This rings alarm bells for every believer in God: Having no truth and discernment, we are at the risk of being deceived and controlled by rumors at any time if we don’t pay attention to seeking the truth or listening to God’s voice. In the beginning, without discernment, Adam and Eve were tempted by the snake and then death came upon mankind. Zheng Muen makes the same mistake as they did: Without discernment, he believes the rumors and falls into Satan’s cunning schemes, and almost misses God’s salvation. It is just as the Bible said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). “fools die for want of wisdom” (Proverbs 10:21). But fortunately, ignorant though he is, he has a heart of seeking the truth and finally chooses to listen to God’s voice, turning from the “foolish person” to the smart one who only listens to God’s voice. The transformation of the protagonist in this movie is a success, but in our real life, how many pious believers like Zheng Muen can succeed in transformation?

Zhong Jiahui, Zheng Muen’s wife, is a common believer in the Lord who has been eager for the Lord’s return for years. She is thoughtful and rational, and can remain calm when encountering matters. Especially in seeking the true way, she is bold and independent, who takes a firm stance and pays attention to seeking the truth. From the perspective of the play, the character Jiahui serves as a counterpoint to the protagonist Muen. When rumors come upon them, she has a completely different attitude and performance from Muen, which not only shows her wisdom of paying attention to seeking the truth but also emphasizes the foolishness of Muen in investigating the true way. This stark contrast enables the audience to quickly find out how to search for the true way from Jiahui’s behavior—only listening to God’s voice. Additionally, although she doesn’t talk much, each line of her words can initiate our reflection and furthers the development of the general plot. Her actual deeds point out a way of practice for those who look forward to the return of the Lord. What are the wise virgins? What are the foolish virgins? The movie will give you the correct answers.

Pastor Ma, a pastor of an American church who outwardly looks humble, cultured and scholarly, is respected and regarded by Muen and the other believers as the spiritual parent and their guide that can lead them to enter the kingdom of heaven. However, to protect his status and livelihood, he actually gives a Hongmen feast (a feast set up as a trap for the invited) for Muen and Jiahui: He says before them that he won’t stop them from examining the true way, but behind their back he uses every possible way to stop them. The expressions and body movements of the actor all accurately show the characteristics of the role. The coldness in his eyes behind the gold-rimmed glasses, his eyes narrowing when he is thinking, and the sinister smile at the corners of his mouth—all of these vividly show Pastor Ma’s shrewdness and craftiness, and reveal the truth that he is actually the stumbling block to believers entering the kingdom of heaven instead of the guide. That is really ironic.

Another scene, however, indeed makes us feel a little confused: Pastor Ma sits on his chair with the tablet computer in his hands, reading the words of Almighty God carefully, and then he says, “Almighty God’s word really is extraordinary. This is too enlightening for people!” It seems that he has unique insights and understanding of these words, from which we can know that he possesses the high caliber and the ability of reception that a pastor should do. But nevertheless, what does he do? Upon turning around, he says, “And … They will abandon us!” This scene accompanied by the horrible background music suddenly creates a gruesome atmosphere. But what becomes of him after he uses all his schemes? At the end of the movie, to prevent the believers from examining the true way, Pastor Ma hurries downstairs but falls down the stairs and becomes unconscious. Such a scene calls for our deep reflection and reminds us of the words with which the Lord Jesus rebuked the Pharisees, “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer you them that are entering to go in” (Matthew 23:13). These words are really thought-provoking.

Yu Wanren, whose name is pronounced like the “foolish person” in Chinese and indeed appropriate for him, worships power, ingratiating himself with the pastor and elders and absolutely obeying them; he is their capable helper and is so loyal that he is willing to be a tool in the hands of them. In order to stop the believers from investigating the true way, he takes every possible chance to protect the status of the pastor and elders. We can’t help asking, “Does he believe in the Lord or the pastor and elders?” The success of the characterization of Yu Wanren lies in the thorough display of the hatefulness of the “foolish person”: If one is so foolish as to protect and obey people stubbornly and even reject the utterances of God, he’ll certainly end in death. However, a fact we have to admit is that there are many people like Yu Wanren in our real life.

There is another important character in this movie—Zheng Muen’s aunt. She takes a firm stance without fear of evil influence. When some believers daren’t examine the true way because of being deceived by rumors, she makes the most of the situation and directly dissects the true essence of the rumors with incisive words, solving their puzzlement. The character has her own personality and her simple and refined words give us a profound impression. Although she isn’t the leading character, her role in the movie can’t be ignored because she functions as the first person to guide Muen to examine and accept the true way.

The movie gives us great inspiration: It not only tells us not to pass judgment blindly in treating the Lord’s return, but also explains the reason why the wise virgins can enter into the kingdom of heaven while the foolish ones are abandoned and eliminated. A passage of words in this movie has pointed out a broad highway for everyone who is eager for the Lord’s return and seeks and examines the true way, “Perhaps, having heard the way of truth and read the word of life, you believe that only one in 10,000 of these words are in line with your convictions and the Bible, and then you should continue to seek in that 10,000th of these words.” Only by doing so can we be called the smart people and this is the only way by which we can turn from the foolish people into the smart ones.

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