In this three part series, LaVonne McIver James looks at how Hollywood challenges our views of Hell.
We try our best to not think about Hell. Perhaps, secure in the notion that if we don’t look into an abyss, the likelihood we’ll fall in is nil. Film is one of the few socially accepted vehicles to examine Hell. Maybe, this is because most movies represent an escape from reality. We watch most films with the feeling that much of what occurs, could never really happen to us, and it would be great if Hell is just as much a far- fetched fantasy.
Kevin Miller hopes to bring the Hell debate closer to home, or at the least to a movie theatre near you with his documentary Hellbound? slated to start production in July.
“Basically, I want to bring this Hell debate to the big screen,” said Miller. “I want to examine how various views of Hell developed and what do these views on Hell say about how we perceive the Bible, God, and ourselves.”
Miller is no stranger to controversial topics. He was a writer of EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed, a 2008 documentary that put Intelligent Design on the table for discussion.
With Hellbound?, Miller hopes to reframe the hell debate that goes back to the earliest days of the church and to talk about Hell in a new way.
“I’m going to come from an angle that people might not anticipate. I’m not interested in endorsing or excluding any position, but I will talk to some very significant voices.”
Miller was prompted to pursue the project in large part because of “an inherited belief (of hell) from tradition that puts us in a dilemma. If that view of Hell is true, it seems like we can have a good God or we can have Hell, but we can’t have both.”
Miller says that when it comes to Hell there are so many inherited ideas and beliefs that are being deconstructed.
“There is nothing cut and dry about it. A bunch of intelligent people can come away with different interpretations. That’s what makes this debate so emotional. We live in a society where it doesn’t seem like it’s Okay to ask questions. The stakes are high for people who question. I disagree with that way of thinking.”
Miller also plans for Hellbound? to be an examination of the psychological function of Hell.
“What does our belief in Hell do for us psychologically?” Miller said. “If you’re a victim of a crime, perhaps Hell is a comfort because if the perpetrator got off easy, maybe that person will get what they deserve in hell.”
“Hell is a projection of our hopes and fears. A belief in an afterlife is universal where problems caused in this world are made right in another world. I want to explore that,” said Miller.
According to Miller, Hellbound? will blend characters in conflict and his personal journey.
“Definitely my story is going to factor into the film. It won’t be a litany of talking heads. It will be a clash of personalities wresting over deep thematic issues.”