Alex Bernier (Ledger) is a member of an arcane order of priests known as Carolingians. When the head of the order dies, Alex is sent to Rome to investigate mysterious circumstances surrounding the death. The body bears strange marks on the chest which may or may not be the sign of a Sin Eater (Furmann), a renegade who offers absolution, last rites and therefore a path to heaven outside the jurisdiction of the church. Alex enlists the aid of his old comrade Father Thomas (Addy) and of a troubled artist (Sossamon) upon whom he once performed an exorcism. He soon finds himself plunged into a mystery only to find himself at the heart of it.Written by
Leagh Conwell also portrayed Heath Ledger's younger self in A Knight's Tale. See more »
After the investigators have been given the knife by Driscoll, the knife moves around on the table between shots. See more »
Every life is a riddle. The answer to mine is knowledge, born of darkness.
It wasn't always so. In the beginning, I still had questions. In the beginning, my mystery still remained.
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The plot of "The Order" had potential, but the execution of the film lacks focus and has a distorted view of Catholic theology (mild spoilers)
I'm not sure what to make of this film. It was written, directed, and produced by Brian Helgeland, who also wrote the Mel Gibson film "Conspiracy Theory" and wrote and directed "A Knight's Tale", a take-off on Chaucer's Cantebury Tales. Unlike both of those films, which I quite liked, there is no focus as to what this film is supposed to mean.
Heath Ledger plays Fr. Alex, a young priest whose mentor, the former head of a religious order, appears to have committed suicide. Ledger is skeptical, and accompanied by friend and fellow priest Thomas (Mark Addy) and a young woman whom he had exorcised the previous year (Shannyn Sossamon), he goes to Rome to investigate.
He finds that his mentor had employed the services of a "sin-eater", a person who takes on the sins of those about to die who have been excommunicated (apparently unjustly?) by the Roman Catholic Church.
Once he finds the sin-eater, the rest of the film deals with Ledger's motivations for being a priest, his conflict between his vows and his love for the young woman, and the sin-eater's offer to make Fr. Alex his successor, as well as interference run in these matters by demons and pagans...
While this description suggests a compelling drama of religious conflict, the execution is schematic, murky, half-witted...characterization is imcomplete and inadequately subtle, motivations remain unclear, tension is diffused- in short, the project was not well-thought out.
Some things to keep in mind when watching-
1. Real priests do not chase demons (Helgeland has been watching too much Buffy!) nor do competent priests permit themselves to be taunted by demons so that the priest feels the need to challenge them...
2. Fr. Thomas encounters Fr. Alex in the graveyard, where he has just buried his mentor. Sensing something he asks Fr. Alex what has happened, and Fr. Alex (who had just been attacked by demons) responds "demon spawn in the form of children- nothing I couldn't handle". That disposition is so wrong! Relating the casting out of demons to your own ability would only invite the demons to attack you more fiercely! We defeat Satan through humility. Jesus said, "Don't be glad because the evil spirits obey you; rather be glad because your names are written in heaven." (Luke 10:20, Today's English Version)
3. "Knowledge is opposed to faith" one character says. This is the most annoying line in the film. What kind of knowledge is he referring to? Knowledge of sin? Well, we may say that knowledge of sin obscures faith but is directly opposed to love. Knowledge of the occult? Beyond certain limits, knowledge of the occult is dangerous and unnecessary, and thus opposed to faith. But what about scientific knowledge, as in the laws of history or physics? Or knowledge of the faith itself? Does the Scripture not say "My people perish for lack of knowledge?" (Hosea 4:6)
4. In one instance, Fr. Thomas denounces a pagan as a "blasphemer"; yet, in another, earlier scene, he practically goads Fr. Alex into breaking his vows. Why does he act honorably in one scene and not in the other?
5. If the relationship between the young woman and Fr. Alex did not deserve to be developed more than what is here, it deserved to be excised from the film as a needless distraction from the story arc. When Fr. Alex breaks his vows, what could have been a meaningful scene between the two, is instead a PG-13 lovemaking montage with no dialogue at all!
Is the director being anti-Catholic, anti-Christian, or anti-God? It seems to me none of these things, but rather he objects to his perception of the authority of the Roman Catholic Church. I do not think he realizes there is a conflict between the genuine Catholic dogma of sin and redemption and the false one portrayed here, a false understanding no doubt arising from exposure to distorted and legalistic expressions of the Roman Catholic faith.
To unspiritual people, this will seem a silly, cheesy film. But I doubt that Helgeland just decided to arbitrarily throw together supernatural elements in order to make a thriller. He seems to be aware that these elements do exists, but he is confused about their nature.
This is not a film that should be seen without someone wise and mature in the Catholic faith.
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