I got my prize home and, since I had already seen the movie three times, I watched the Special Features instead. It ran for four hours. Whoa.
I watched and learned how director Jon Favreau lost weight to play Happy Hogan, Tony Stark's driver/bodyguard (he did a pretty good job of self-casting I must say), how Robert Downey, Jr. shared how they made coffee or tea in prison using a sock, so they incorporated that in his cave scenes with Yinsen, how the special effects guys and technical graphics guys desinged the look and feel of the CGI aspects of the film, how the architectural design of Stark's mansion was changed due to the casting of Downey and how his sensitivities as an actor were used, confirmed and even challenged by Favreau who at times said, "You'll have to be a grown man and deal with it."
I loved it. I learned a LOT by just listening to the writers and actors interact. Favereau is, IMHO, a straight-up responsible director who will not kill off the creative input or choke the process to get just what he wants. I am amazed at this. It is SOOO difficult to find this.
Too many creatives are control freaks because the person or persons wanting to take control have their own agenda and fears - they cannot see where you are going so they take it to a place where they are comfortable - and that is usually a safe, banal place we have all been to before.
Therefore, you learn early on, do NOT let another person touch your baby! They will simply molest it. There is a reason The Incredible Hulk was almost excellent. When Ed Norton does not go around promoting a film he wrote and starred in, you have a clue that something unhappy happened in the creative process, no matter how much 'spin' is put on it.
There are parts of entire scenes, complete full architectural renderings I saw on this DVD that are GOOD. There is nothing wrong about them - but they missed the heart of the story or did not build upon it constructively and so were not used.
You create. You edit. You edit out bad stuff. You edit out good stuff.
Favreau understands this process -so he lets it run far more creatively than most would. He also came in with great peformances, great effects, on TIME and under BUDGET.
In other words, the process never overwhelmed him. He stayed on target.
We see the same with Jesus as He directs His disciples. He's got to keep them on target. He wants them to get glory and honor they have never had before. He knows it will take a lot of freedom and empowerment. It will also take some editing. We ourselves will have to edit out bad things in our lives - pride, abusive speech, lying, fornication, drunkness, lust, anger...
But He himself will also have to edit out some good things in our lives to keep us on target and close to Himself. Marriage, children, money, homes, retirements, etc.
For me, raised a materialistic consumer in America, this is a stunning blow. Raised in a land of multiple choices, I did not understand this at first. Jesus says we have to be pruned to bear more fruit for God. We have to be edited for our own glory. Here, see what I mean:
John 15:1-3, 5, 6, 15-17
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.
"I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other."
- Jesus says they are already "clean" - not sinning with their bodies, not grieving other lives - they're "good guys" now, all cleaned up,
- Jesus says they need further focus and direction. Fruit trees consistently bear MORE fruit with a judicious pruning (or "editing"),
- He calls them friends - FRIENDS - though He is deity incarnate, and
- He cast them for this role. They think the decision was all theirs but in fact, He chose them first.
In other words, Jesus is the Director for His disciples in the worldwide released film: "Redemption". God is the Producer, letting Jesus play the Lead.
Do you know why Robert Downey, Jr. was chosen for this role? Because of his great acting ability and BECAUSE of his awful past. He has a lot in common with the character of Tony Stark. He understands his addictive personality and lifetyle like none of us can.
But if he's in prison, he cannot do his work. He has to daily make sure evil things are not a part of his life. He also has to edit out "good things" to do his work - foods you and I can eat, drinks you and I can drink, he cannot. He has to learn his lines and take his cue from the Director. Why? So a great story will be produced and presented for the hearts and minds of audiences worldwide.
A story of redemption.
What makes it great does not rest solely on the acting abilities of Robert Downey, Jr. nor of any one part of the crew. The person most responsible in the end for making it the film is the Director, who refused to be LESS than a friend to his people, even with all the challenges facing him.
When we sing, as Christians, "Oh What a Friend We Have in Jesus" let us keep in mind it was Jesus who decided to become our Friend, to clean us up with His Word, to cut out what was unfruitful in our relationships and to do something that will last forever: bringing souls to God.
One of the common complaints about Christians is "They are a bunch of hypocrites!" But we are all hypocrites. Hypocrite' in the Greek simply means actor. We are all actors -acting for one reason or another, in motion for one agenda or another. The world's indeed a stage, full of drama and choices and circumstances WAY out of our control, and Jesus Christ has cast us for the roles we play, as His personal friends -if we have listened to Him and have been cleansed by His words.
The true disciple of Christ realizes pruning is not punishment nor a terrible loss.
It is prep -for the greatest role of all time: becoming a soul-saving son of God.