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


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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to our youth through you,
their parents and grandparents, in His name by His Word

Dragonfly (2002), PG-13
Analysis Date: February 23, 2002
CAP Score: 58
CAP Influence Density: 0.75

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NOTE: If you do not want the plot, ending, or "secrets" of a movie spoiled for you, skip the Summary/Commentary. In any case, be sure to visit the Findings/Scoring section -- it is completely objective to His Word and is the heart of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie.


If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary likely using a mix of KJV and NIV.

DRAGONFLY (PG-13) -- Such mumbo-jumbo...

Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Director(s): Tom Shadyac
Producer(s): Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, Michael Bostick, James D. Brubaker, Mark Johnson, Arlene Kehela, Tom Shadyac, Janet L. Wattles
Written by/Screenplay: David Seltzer, Brandon Camp, Mike Thompson
Cinematography/Camera: Dean Semler
Music: John Debney
Editing: Don Zimmerman

I am surprised Kevin Costner would get involved with performances of the "campfire spook stories" or "pajama party poltergeists" caliber, but he did a fairly good job nonetheless.

The story opens Dr. Joe Darrow (Kevin Costner) and his pregnant wife, Dr. Emily Darrow (Susanna Thompson) as a commanding medical team at a Chicago hospital. He as head of the emergency department and she serving the terminally ill children's ward. He as the brain and she as the heart. Living together in professional excellence, Emily decided she must go to Venezuela to serve the people there with the Red Cross, no matter what Joe felt or said.

Once on location in Venezuela, unrest escalates into a very serious danger to Emily and her cohorts. All Red Cross personnel are to be evacuated. A rickety old school bus is dispatched to collect the workers. During a severe rainstorm, the workers are transported along a corkscrew mountain road carved into the side of a mountain. A landslide avalanche takes out the road and the bus with it. Emily is killed. All are killed. At least each whose body was not found was presumed dead. Presumed dead. How can one be assured a victim is dead if the death must be presumed? There lies the fodder for the 100 minutes of feeding doubt. And when doubt is inflated, speculation and grasping run rampant.

Now Dr. Joe is emotionally devastated. He cannot accept that Emily is dead. His doubt overcomes him and he starts to experience odd and eerie happenings, all suggestive of his wife trying to communicate with him from beyond the grave [Deut. 18:10 - 12]. All Dr. Joe's interactions with people suffer. He is a walking emptiness. He is given to "cowboy" disregard for standard procedures. He even says (essentially) to a recovering suicide patient who threatens to do it again to go right ahead and see who cares. I have heard of treatment programs for suicidal patients that take that approach but I am not a counselor and do not know if such coldness is used or whether it is effective. This is a movie. And movies are the only influences that can get away with planting dangerous and potentially fatal thoughts. If I were to suggest that people should or should not take the "who cares" attitude about suicide I could get into real trouble. But do the movie writers and actors/actresses get into trouble for planting such thinking?

But as events continue happening that suggest Emily is trying to tell Joe something from the dead Joe becomes more and more disconnected with his world. Joe keeps seeing a strange line art representation of a "wiggly cross", suggestive of the dragonfly shape. One of the "messages" Joe receives is to visit his wife's terminally ill child patients. The kids' rooms walls are covered with drawings of the wiggly cross. There he finds a young boy in clinical death who has arrested several times but spontaneously resuscitated each time, even after being pronounced dead ... each time with a new "near-death experience" story. (Of course, the boy's father is discounted as closed minded when he rebukes his son's stories.)

Soon after Joe walks in the treatment room the clinically dead boy spontaneously resuscitates again and has another story to tell. But this time the story strikes close to home for Joe. The young boy tells Joe he has seen Emily and that she is trying to tell him something. Before the boy resuscitated, Joe thought he heard the boy calling his name several times. Was it Emily using the clinically dead boy's voice?

There is much that happens in Joe's life after the boy tells Joe that Emily is trying to tell Joe something. Visions. Events that can only be due to something familiar to Emily. A bird speaking only what Emily taught it and only when Emily was present. A packed away paperweight that suddenly appears in its previous spot on Dr. Joe's desk -- a paperweight with a dragonfly in it. Dr. Joe even riles the police as he visits a nun (Linda Hunt) who had studied near-death experiences of the children at the hospital. Joe has had enough and heads to Venezuela.

There was also an unusual departure in the plot from the norm of this genre. When asked, one of the tribal elders said "We were not able to save her body, but we were able to save her soul." If you chose to watch this movie, you will likely be surprised by what the elder called Emily's "soul."

Such is the "path" of this movie. A path that explores communicating with the dead, by the dead and through the dead. Bad news! A typical thriller but definitely contrary to His admonitions for us. But that is not likely the most invasive property of this film. Such mumbo-jumbo, while having a real potential for endangering the Spiritual development and allegiance of a child, is clearly fantasy and likely can be satisfactorily explained as the mumbo-jumbo it is by the parent or grandparent who is at least half way sincere about honoring His Word which condemns communicating with, through and by the dead and all other such activities [Deut. 18:10-12, Eph. 5:11]

The violence in this movie is probably much more indelible. Little Johnny or Janie watches it and it, for him or her, is real because it is happening right before his/her eyes. They see it. Right there! On the screen. Bigger than life! No matter what your words say, some entertainment behaviors may become a template for future behavioral choices. Maybe think twice before taking your little ones to see this movie?

While violence and unholy matters are the leading presences in Dragonfly, there are a few uses of impolite vocabulary. Sexual issues are infrequent, but one is of the showing of the nudity of third world peoples, some of them adolescents. Also, one of the secular reviews claims the part of Joe's neighbor is lesbian. However, I heard nothing in the script to indicate so. Her hairstyle was typical of the stereotype of the lesbian practitioner, but a hairstyle does not make the host lesbian. Please consider reading the listing in the Findings/Scoring section before deciding whether to watch Dragonfly.


If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ]. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.

  • (NLT) Deut. 18:10-12 . . . do not let your people practice fortune-telling or sorcery, or allow them to interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. Anyone who does these things is an object of horror and disgust to the Lord...
  • Eph. 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

    *******Food for Thought*******
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 (KJV) Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (NIV) Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
  • Jude 4 For certain men* whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto [or for] one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto [or for] me.
  • Luke 17:2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. [cause by teaching or example]
  • Ps. 119:133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.

    Dragonfly (2002) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
  • landslide/avalanche terror, repeatedly
  • graphic emergency department injuries, repeatedly
  • attempted suicide
  • threatening suicide
  • explosive startle
  • dead man grabbing a man's arm
  • firearms
  • underwater entrapment peril
  • willfully jumping into rapids
  • many dead bodies

    Impudence/Hate (I)(1):
  • 10 uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • defying marriage for personal goals
  • lie

    Sex/Homosexuality (S):
  • physical intimacy in underwear
  • sex talk
  • third world brief dress and nudity, including adolescents

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • bar
  • drinking

    Offense to God (O)(2):
  • one use of God's name in vain without the four letter expletive and none with
  • talk that suicide will get you into Heaven
  • denial of Heaven
  • talk of reincarnation
  • near-death experience talk, repeatedly
  • unholy talk/presences/actions, repeatedly
  • talk of and portrayal of communicating with, by and through the dead, repeatedly
  • unholy visions
  • using the church to justify dealing with unholy practices

    Murder/Suicide (M)(3):
  • none noted

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    NOTE: The CAP Analysis Model makes no scoring allowances for trumped-up "messages" to excuse or for manufacturing of justification for aberrant behavior or imagery, or for camouflaging such ignominy with "redeeming" programming. Disguising sinful behavior in a theme plot does not excuse the sinful behavior of either the one who is drawing pleasure or example from the sinful display or the practitioners demonstrating the sinful behavior. This is NOT a movie review service. It is a movie analysis service to parents and grandparents to tell them the truth about movies using the Truth.

    "There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our nearly seven years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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    (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.

    (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.

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