Ben Stein's 'Expelled' could properly be called 'Exposed the Movie' because it is a nerve rattling jolt to academicians who are ready to bounce or ostracize anyone who so much as mentions or has a dream in the night about the theory of intelligent design.
No movie review in history as far as I know starts with instructions about how to watch the film. Expelled is a documentary and contains hundreds of interviews and deep conversations with some of the most highly regarded minds of the time. It has a rhythm and a depth that requires full attention and you may want to forgo the popcorn, soda and other distractions.
You will also discover something radically different about this film from the audience reaction. It has been reported that people applaud sometimes throughout the film and in some theatres it ends with audiences rising to give it a standing ovation.
I found myself applauding along with other theatre patrons when I saw the film. It was proof solid for me that while Americans are being asked to get the nonsense of religion out of their heads the idea of an omnipotent creator God is still firmly planted in their hearts.
Frivolous lawsuits are being thrown at the producers of the film from animation companies and John Lennon widow Yoko Ono. Neither suit seems to have any foundation but the flak from every academic quarter is ample proof that a nerve has been touched. Is the film fair, is it reasonable, and is it intelligent? Not only is the answer yes, yes and yes but the film is yet something much more, something rarely found in a documentary. It is emotionally charged.
Ben Stein is marvelous in the film. Known more as a comedian he doesn't poke fun at anyone and rarely resorts to humor throughout the documentary. It is clear from the outset that he is not arguing or contending with others views but only imploring them to seriously ponder their own unquestioned assertions. He does this with a straight face and the fewest words possible. The result is obvious; these questions are no joke.
Near the end Stein is found quietly standing alone with his own thoughts in the middle of a holocaust museum. His thoughts are narrated in the background and they are perhaps the most profound moments of the film. Stein has conducted himself discreetly and some might say masterfully throughout the documentary so at the film's conclusion nothing is lost.
The heart of the movie is easy to see. Academics have for a generation now fed us the idea that the big bang theory and the subsequent lightning hitting the primordial ooze is the only way to go when it comes to the question of how life began.
The rapid rise in intelligence in this generation has caused completely unforeseen phenomena for which the academicians were not prepared. It is not just faith in God that makes the question bubble to the surface but our own enlarged understanding of the complexities and vast intricacies of our own universe. The admonition to question all authority that academics so blithely espoused to young minds a generation ago has returned to bite them on the butt. It is the intelligent that are questioning the not so intelligent refusal of the intelligentsia to give some credence to intelligent design; not doing so is just dumb.
This generation understands that when science leaves the area of repeatable and observable phenomena and relies on speculation and 'prior philosophic postulation' to explain the origins of life they have entered the realm of faith. Physical evidence for evolution remains spurious, sparse and suspect at best so speculation is all that is left to explain what took place four hundred million years ago. The evolution crowd has been thumping "The Origins of Species" with evangelistic fervor that makes the best Bible preachers look tame by comparison. This is what Expelled is about.
The implacability of the evolutionists is compared to the Berlin wall throughout the film. Nazism and communism are also alluded to for the most obvious reasons. A party line must be held and enforced for any kind of fascism to have a reasonable chance to survive. The cost of fascism has always been the loss of freedom. Expelled centers in on this by likening the refusal to include the possibility of intelligent design to incarcerating intelligence not furthering it.
Expelled hones in on the loss of academic freedom, jobs, tenure and respect for many of those interviewed in the film but it also provokes the larger question of the number of young minds lost to this generation because of what is fast becoming rigid Darwinian dogma. Move over inquisitors here come the evolutionists!
One of the highlights of Expelled is the interview with famed atheist Richard Dawkins. It may be the only time you will ever see Dawkins visibly perturbed and almost at a loss for words. Ben Stein managed to pull what might even be considered an admission from Dawkins that some intelligent designer may have created everything but that he, she or it would have to have evolved first. The double talk aside it is a moment well worth the ticket price alone.
Most movies are rated on a scale of one to five or in some cases a scale of one to ten. I will not rate this movie at all. What I will do is rate the 'must see' element of the documentary. Whether you are an evolutionist or a believer of "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Gen 1:1) if you consider yourself even nominally intelligent the must see factor for Expelled on a scale of one to ten is twenty.
Copyright ©2008 Rev. Michael Bresciani