ChildCare Action Project: Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP)



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A Dog of Flanders (1999), (PG)
CAP Score: 86
CAP Influence Density: 0.25
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I feel it appropriate to start this accounting of * A Dog of Flanders* with a reminder. While it is sometimes appropriate in the Summary/Commentary section of these Entertainment Media Analysis Reports to speak to the "message" of a movie, the CAP analysis model makes no scoring allowances whatsoever for Hollywood's "messages" or trumped-up justification for aberrant behavior. We just tell you what is there using His expectations and teachings as the guiding Light to discern what to tell you. It is not our job or Hollywood's job or the milkman's job or the MPAA's to determine for you what is and is not acceptable for your kids -- that is YOUR job as a parent or grandparent. We just give you some objective tools to measure the acceptability of a movie BEFORE seeing it. Though this movie is one of the rare movies to earn a CAPAlert yellowlight (all six CAP Investigation Area scores were above 67), it still deserves your scrutiny if only to a single programming issue.

In *A Dog of Flanders* a young boy's unwed mother dies, in front of the viewers' eyes, from weather exposure. A drunk is cruel to a dog. A bitter landlord causes a child to hate [Mark 9:42 and Matthew 25:40]. There was a fight between the boy's mentor (who was portrayed as the boys' father through immoral sex) and the cruel drunk, resulting in the somewhat graphic death of the drunk. Other issues of morality concern include fortune telling [2Chr. 33:6], child arrogance against fair (parental) authority and sneaking to disobey parents [Col. 3:20], lies to shield from accountability for starting a fire [Deut. 5:20]. A three/four letter vocabualry word was presented at least three times. An adulterous encounter was also presented as a maid dressed herself [Matt. 5:27-28].

This next issue I want to present as delicately as I can. The entire show was built around the exceptional artistic talents of a young boy, encouraging him to develop his skills. I was progressively anticipating from scene to scene that this just may be a story of true art -- one without nudity. It would have been had it not been for one painting by Ruben at the end of the show. We know that Jesus was without clothing after the Romans had their way with Him at the Crucifixion. The painting by Ruben was of desperately saddened women taking the body of our Lord down to be taken to the Tomb built by Joseph of Arimathaea for himself near Golgotha (Place of the Skull). Note that it was Joseph of Arimathaea who took our Lord's body down and to the Tomb [Mark 15:46 "So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock."]. Further and finally, while our Lord's body was indeed without covering for a while until Joseph wrapped it in linen, it is immodest to present His body with no more than a kleenex-sized corner of a rag covering Him let alone doing so before children. His body is typically presented with at least a loin cloth. There are thousands of other great works of art that could have been used in the movie that would have made the point of a goal for the boy. Jesus is a whole lot more than a nude body being taken down off a cross. And the mortality of the man in Jesus being the only presentation of Him in the movie is misleading and a cheat. I may be overly sensitive about this but people like Madonna, when asked what they think of Jesus they reply, 'I think His nude body is sexy' put such artistic liberties as shown in *A Dog of Flanders* in perspective. Share with me your feelings about this.

So many of our visitors seem to be relying only on this Summary/Commentary for a full accounting of the subject movie. This is not possible. For the best representation of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie, visit the Findings/Scoring section below.

FINDINGS / SCORING: A Dog of Flanders (1999) CAP Thermometers

NOTE: Multiple occurrences of each item described below are likely.

Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
  • death of a young mother due to weather exposure
  • brutal landlord causing a young boy to hate
  • a drunk threatening a child
  • death of grandfather (due to 'natural causes' but somewhat graphic)

    Impudence/Hate (I)(1):
  • story of unwed birth
  • a priest calling a child a sinner because a dog followed the child into a church
  • encouragement to disobey a father's commands with the "Try it. You'll like it" argument
  • child arrogance against fair (parental) authority
  • sneaking at night to disobey
  • lies to shield from accountability for starting a fire
  • birth by immoral sex

    Sex/Homosexuality (S):
  • adulterous attempt
  • adultery with a maid
  • picture nudity

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • drunkenness

    Offense to God (O)(2):
  • fortune-telling

    Murder/Suicide (M)(3):
  • knife fight with a somewhat graphic death of the assailant

    (1) As noted in CAP Special Report-001, "Investigation Area and Scoring Trend," of the six CAP Investigation Areas, Impudence/Hate was the strongest presence in all four movie classifications. It has a strong revelation about the entertainment media.

    (2) The use of the three/four letter word vocabulary without God's name in vain is incorporated into the Impudence/Hate Investigation Area. The use of God's name with or without the four letter expletive is incorporated into the Offense to God Investigation Area. There is no duplication. As required of the Holy Scriptures, unless God's name is used with reverence to His glory and praise, its use is considered in vain.

    (3) Only portrayal of successful murder or suicide are incorporated into Murder/Suicide. Portrayal of attempts to commit murder or suicide and deaths by police action or war are incorporated into Wanton Violence/Crime.

    Additional reviews of this movie may be located at "Movie Review Query Engine at Telerama."

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    Lord, Master, Teacher, Savior, God.

    Thomas A. Carder
    ChildCare Action Project: Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP)

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