On this episode of Finding Christ In Cinema, we ride our dragons into the Alagaesian sunset as we look for Christian themes in Eragon. Does Saphira symbolize the Holy Spirit? Is she the presence of God on earth as well as an Encourager for its people? All that and more in 3…2…1!
(Interested in the Reel News, Rumors, and Spoilers mentioned at the beginning of the show? Now, you can find links to these articles under the movie review/discussion section. But don’t worry: the link to the show notes is still available in the penultimate paragraph.)
In 2006, the first book of Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance cycle was adapted to a film of the same name, Eragon. And its reception was as warm as soft-serve ice cream on a good day. Apparently, it stunk for critics as well as fans of the book (hence the perpetual postponement of any more Inheritance stories making it to the big screen).
Michael and I, however, enjoy this film (even though we haven’t read the book).
I enjoy the acting in particular. Jeremy Irons flexes his Shakespearean acting muscles while playing Brom. John Malkovich brings his stage acting to the film as he plays the villainous Galbatorix. And for never seeing Ed Speleers before, I thought he did a great job portraying the story’s eponymous hero.
We also both think the computer animation is decent enough for it being 2006 compared to what we have today. It’s especially crisp with the fire-breathing dragons, which we’ll address later.
One character we’ve yet to mention is the dragon Saphira, who chooses Eragon as her Rider. Now, dragons don’t have the best reputation when mentioned in the Bible, but in Eragon not all dragons are inherently evil.
Saphira Symbolizes the Holy Spirit in Two Ways: Initially as a Source of Power…
First, she (and dragons of Alagaesia in general) are sources of magic, and only the Dragon Riders can act as conduits for that magic. It’s a powerful scene in the film where Eragon wakes up from an unconscious nap after defeating a squad of Ra’zac fighters with a flaming arrow the night before. The thing is that he doesn’t know how and he can’t explain why it happened.
Brom explains that “magic comes from dragons. It flows through the riders who command them.” As Eragon grows as a Rider, he will become more in sync with Saphira and will thus be able to use powers against his enemies. Brom further explains that once Eragon becomes one with Saphira, those powers will be at their fullest.
Just as Saphira is a source of magic for Eragon, the Holy Spirit is the source of God’s power for Christians. Once we’ve linked up with the Holy Spirit, we become conduits for that sweet energy from above.
But instead of magical powers being the result of that connection, Christians bear a different fruit:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
And as our relationship with the Holy Spirit evolves over time, that fruit will become more evident and be at its fullest.
…but Ultimately as an Encourager
Yes, Saphira serves as an encourager to Eragon and eventually to the whole Varden army at the end of the film. In the dialogue right before the battle ensues, Eragon asks Saphira why she chose him as her Rider:
Eragon: I need to know, Saphira. Why me?
Saphira: You choose a leader for his heart.
Eragon: But I’m not without fear.
Saphira: Without fear there cannot be courage. But when we are together, it is our enemies who should be afraid.
Eragon: And are we together, Saphira? [As he draws his sword] AS ONE?
[Saphira breathes fire for the first time.]
Eragon: I’ll take that as a “yes.”
Tangent: A History of the Word Encourage
A lot of people may use the word encourage and not fully understand its gravity, but I think a look into its etymology can help that. Not surprisingly, encourage is an Old French word (leave it to the French to have a way with word):
- EN – a prefix, “to put or place in”
- COUR – literally “heart,” but used in association with “spirit” or “fire”
- AGE – a suffix used to express activity
Therefore, to encourage someone is to put the spirit in them. Or, to better use the image of a fire-breathing dragon, to encourage someone is to put the fire in them.
Saphira Encourages Eragon in the Same Way the Holy Spirit Encourages Christians
Saphira’s literal act of breathing fire represents how the Holy Spirit “puts the fire into” the Christians in whom He dwells. Thus, we can now read that all-too-familiar passage from Isaiah a little differently:
…but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like [fire-breathing dragons of encouragement]; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
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- The United States’s First 4D Movie Theater Has Opened
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- Andy Serkis’s Mo-Cap Studio and Consulting Firm is Working Alongside J.J. Abrams and the Star Wars VII Project
Rumors and Spoilers
- Has Carrie Fisher’s Daughter Been Cast in Star Wars VII?
- Is a Trip to Planet Hulk in Marvel’s Cinematic Future?
- Did Andy Serkis Spill the Beans of Star Wars VII to Conan O’Brien?
Finding Christ In Cinema is the show where we discover Christian themes in movies past and present. Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today. Brought to you by the Great Commission Transmission Network. View the complete show notes, including links to articles discussed, by clicking here.
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