Up front, let me confess that I haven’t seen the all-female “Ghostbusters,” and I don’t intend to.
I’ve always found gender-switching in remakes to be uninteresting, especially when you’re putting women into a story or a role originally written for men (which is how it works the overwhelming majority of the time. I’ve yet to hear proposals for a male “Jane Eyre” or “Fried Green Tomatoes.”). There’s just a “me, too” and “girls can do it, too!” thing about it that I find condescending.
Women deserve their own stories (like “Jane Eyre” or “Fried Green Tomatoes”).
But, to all those who saw it and liked it, hey, your results may vary.
I am, though, a huge fan of the original “Ghostbusters” — and the remarkable amount of God it contained.
Strangely, when I’ve pointed out the below to fellow fans, they’ve given me puzzled looks. See, back in the good old days — a k a the Reagan ’80s — you could slip religious references into a movie with nobody getting upset or even particularly noticing. It’s one marker of how aggressively secularized our society has become that ordinary mentions of Christianity or Judaism, and showing clergy, can get some folks’ knickers in a twist.
Of course, this is just everyday life for people of faith. Tell me if I’m wrong, but I’d be very surprised if this sort of thing made it into the new movie.
So, without further ado, here’s the God in “Ghostbusters”:
At about eight minutes in, Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) asks a spooked librarian if her family had mental issues:
Librarian: My uncle thought he was St. Jerome.
Venkman: That’s a big yes.
At a bit past the one-hour mark, Dr. Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and new Ghostbuster Winston Zeddmore (Ernie Hudson) are riding in the group’s converted Cadillac ambulance:
Zeddmore: Hey, Ray, do you believe in God?
Stantz: Never met Him.
Zeddmore: Well, I do, and I love Jesus’ style. Do you remember something in the Bible about the Last Days, when the dead will rise from the grave?
Stantz: I remember Revelations 7:12: And I looked, as he opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became as black as sackcloth, and the moon became as blood.
Zeddmore: And the seas boiled, and the skies fell.
Stantz: Judgment Day
Zeddmore: Judgment Day
Stantz: Every ancient religion has its own myth about the end of the world.
Zeddmore: Myth? Ray, has it ever occurred to you that maybe the reason we’ve been so busy lately is that the dead have been rising from the grave?
At about the 1-hour-15-minute mark, during a scene in the office of New York Mayor Lenny Clotch (David Margulies), the Archbishop of New York (Tom McDermott), a k a “Mike,” shows up, in cassock, red zuchetto and sash, and a big cross (and a ring, which Lenny kisses — but they’re obviously pals).
Present are Venkman, Stantz, Zeddmore and fellow Ghostbuster Dr. Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis).
Archbhishop: Lenny, officially the Church will not take any position on the religious implications of these phenomena. Personally, Lenny, I think it’s a sign from God, but don’t quote me on it.
Lenny: I’m not going to call a press conference and tell everybody to start praying
Venkman: This city is headed for a disaster of Biblical proportions.
Lenny: What do you mean, Biblical?
Stantz: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath-of-God-type stuff. Fire and brimstone coming down from the sky; rivers and seas boiling.
Spengler: Forty years of darkness, earthquakes, volcanoes.
Zeddmore: The dead rising from the graves.
Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria.
… If I’m right, Lenny, you will have saved the lives of millions of registered voters.
(Here, the archbishop nods in approval.)
Also, as the Ghostbusters ride into action, there are Catholic priests wearing stoles and habited nuns holding rosaries, who are all praying, along with several rabbis.
Then, at about the hour-and-a-half mark, the monstrous Mr. Stay-Puft … well, watch for yourself …
Or, says Venkman, “Nobody steps on a church in my town!”
Near the end of the movie, as Venkman and formerly possessed classical musician Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) are reunited and getting into the car, a priest wearing a stole puts his hand on Venkman’s head and blesses them — with more priests blessing, and rabbis cheering, as they drive off.
By the way, Murray’s sister is Sister Nancy Murray, an Adrian Dominican sister known for her one-woman performances as Saint Catherine of Siena.
And, Aykroyd — who wrote “Ghostbusters” with Ramis — was raised Catholic in Canada and considered the priesthood as a teenager. As an adult, he’s dabbled a great deal in spiritualism, spirit mediums, UFOs and other paranormal phenomena, but he’s also been married for more than 30 years and has three daughters.
While his faith may not be orthodox, there is this quote which I picked for a photo meme to celebrate Aykroyd’s recent birthday over at my day job, managing social media and creating Internet content (including blog posts and original video) for Holy Cross apostolate and TV/movie production company Family Theater Productions (please like us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram):
Images: Courtesy Columbia Pictures, Family Theater Productions