ADAM’S APPLES (released in 2005 in Germany) is the story of a neo-Nazi, Adam (Ulrich Thomsen last seen in Kingdom of Heaven and Mostly Martha) who gets out of jail and is paroled to a Christian pastor, Ivan (Mads Mikkleson), and his church in rural Denmark (it is in Danish with English sub-titles). The parolee is tough, silent, and bewildered by the pastor who at first seems eccentric, and who we discover lives in a perpetual state of denial because he is barely able to keep himself together. The film tells us about what brought Ivan to this state of being and of Adam, an insensitive man, capable of great violence, whose intolerance is transformed into empathy. It makes for dark Christian comedy. The film is a conversation about good and evil (the apple metaphor) that leads to a beautiful Eucharistic moment when Adam does something small, generous, and deeply caring. At first I thought this would be a “Christian” film, pedantic and message-laden. Alas, it is anything but that. I don’t think I have ever seen anything quite like Adam’s Apples.
Because Ivan insists Adam must have a goal, Adam, thinking he is being as absurd as Ivan, says he wants to make a cake. “An apple cake? Good! You can take care of the apple tree until August 1st.” Adam’s bewilderment is tangible to us, the audience, and the source of much of the comedy. The other characters in the film are like a collection of people from the Gospels, all in need of some kind of healing.
I am a fan of Fight Club, a film that Craig Detweiller once said may one day be considered the defining film about masculine identity of the 1990’s. What Fight Club is to mainstream film, Adam’s Apple’s is to “Christian” film. (In some way’s I was reminded of the dark comedic element of Jesus’ Son.) I don’t know if Adam’s Apples was billed as a Christian film in Denmark – perhaps not. It is original, darkly funny; a unique film about the human potential to respond to grace. Wow, was I surprised. I think if Flannery O’Connor were alive today, she might be a screenwriter who could bring us a film like Adam’s Apples; where sin abounds, so does great grace.
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