Saturday, November 14, 2009

Movie Review: Collision - Christopher Hitchens vs Douglas Wilson

Collision is a documentary (website here) following the debate tour of Christopher Hitchens and Douglas Wilson (blog). This series of public debates took place to promote their co-authored book: Is Christianity Good for the World?

Filmed in a choppy, artistic style, this 80-minute documentary dips into various aspects and topics on their debate tour. The non-linear approach to the documentary has the benefit of keeping it interesting and fast-paced. On one hand, the creative aspects add to a gritty, urban feel: shaky cameras, tight close-ups, grainy black and white interspersed with color. On the other hand, some of the choppy close-ups are overdone and become annoying at times. However distracting this may or may not be to the viewer, the content itself is absorbing.

The "story" is told through the meshing together of various debate excerpts and conversations, all centering around the overall topic of is Christianity good for the world? These range from morality and justice, to the coherence of worldviews. The opponents are equally presented, each getting their chance to make their most potent remarks; it's not a one-sided presentation. The goal, it seems, is to make the viewer aware of the questions in the debate and to show where the two worldviews clash. Hence, the title Collision.

For those familiar with Hitchens' style in public debates, this piece will provide an even more interesting look at the man, his personality, and views. Little vignettes and after-debate conversations are entertaining and fascinating. Douglas Wilson comes across as an intelligent, reasonable, and likable personality. He holds his own well enough with Hitchens and seems to earn his respect. The documentary captures a sense of two rivals who respect one another; at one moment clashing in debate, the next moment laughing over lunch about favorite authors.

The Collision DVD will be of great interest to those familiar with apologetic arguments. In particular, this shows more of a presuppositional apologetics approach fleshed out in actual interaction. For those unfamiliar with the arguments, this documentary immerses them in the general issues of the debate while showing the worldviews behind the clash. Because the arguments are not completely developed and the debate is left unresolved, this may be just the kind of DVD to use as a conversation starter.


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