More on Extras in Movies and God’s Purposes – was this cricket a Columbo star?

 

Cricket Extra

Cricket Extra

 

I watched an old Columbo TV show the other day, and as a car drove by in an outdoor night scene, you could hear one of the cast members making noises in the bushes. The sound of a cricket’s chirps rang out, trying to convince the viewers they really were outside at night.

I’m sure he wasn’t listed in the credits, but, he was probably the cricket cast member for Columbo. If there was a nighttime chirping part to fill, I imagine the sound effects editor  pulled out the same “cricket 101” tape and over-dubbed it on the soundtrack. Perfection every time. Never missed his mark or had to do a re-take.

I wondered if this cricket was featured in other soundtracks. Had I heard him before but didn’t recognize him? Maybe he was a mega-star among crickets and recordings of his chirp were shared among the studios, and his “voice” heard in hundreds of shows and movies. Or was he even an international star – you wouldn’t need subtitles for that, because they all seem to speak the same in any language. (Actually not speaking, of course, but rubbing their wings together.)

I don’t know the answer to those questions or to the cricket’s stardom status. As you see, this relates to my last blog on “extras” in TV and movies. Slightly different because this one isn’t human, and we don’t see him but only hear him. Either way, his purpose is the same as other extras – to improve the quality of the environment, or as one comment said, to enhance the ambience of the scene – to make it more enjoyable.

Again, like my last post, that gives another aspect of being an “extra” that relates to our responsibility as Christians. Like the cricket who was heard and not seen, and perhaps noticed by only one person out of hundreds, we are to make life for others more enjoyable, without searching for praise and glory.

Jesus gave us instructions to enhance the ambience of any scene we’re a part of when He said “You are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13) and “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). Then, He made it clear that we are the extras and the glory goes to where it truly belongs:

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16 ESV)

The Parts and Purposes of Extras in Film, and in God’s Plans

Crowd of Hollywood Film Extras in the 1930's

Crowd of Hollywood Film Extras in the 1930’s

 

Sometimes, I notice an “extra” on a TV show – someone in a quick shot at a table in a restaurant, or, someone who walks by in a street scene, and I pause the show. I especially look for scenes that have the stars up close and the extra is off to the side or behind them. (You’ll see why in a minute.)

I check to make sure my wife, Sharon, is reading or on the computer, and not paying attention, then rewind it a bit. I excitedly ask “did you see that?” and start the action again. As she looks and the extra comes into view, I exclaim “See! See! There I am, There I am!”

She knows I’m pretending to be that person who has this very small part in a program, but still gets excited and wants to show someone. That’s why the scene with the star up front is most effective. Viewers hardly notice anyone but the stars in those shots (“See, you can see the back of my head over her right shoulder!”). But, that extra has a part and a purpose, and I imagine their excitement bubbling over. Even though they won’t even get into the credits, there will be a sense of triumph.

Sharon and I usually then talk a bit about “extras” – their motivation and how they might get a particular part, the large quantity needed for some scenes, etc. (And, she’s so sweet, she’s never told me to stop bothering her with such silliness).

There are stories around about many big stars’ early “extra” days in show business. However, the vast majority of extras remain extras. And, because they do have a part and a purpose, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The same goes for us as Christians. Most of us won’t be famous. Most of us won’t be “stars”, especially in the world’s eyes. But, the Lord has given each of us a specific part and purpose. It won’t be just sitting at a table – but, it might be sitting at a table praying and studying His Word; or sitting down with your family to enjoy the meal you just prepared for them; or having a cup of coffee with someone who needs a good listener or comforting words.

It won’t be just passing by – but, it could be going out of our way to give someone physical assistance; or visiting at the hospital; or it could be figuratively “walking a mile in another’s shoes” to help us develop compassion for their burdens.

We can, and should, get excited about the parts God gives us. But, announcing it to the world with a “See! See! There I am!” isn’t an appropriate response. Simply and humbly telling others how God has blessed us to glorify Him is always correct. And, we should remember where our parts and successes come from.

            As the Psalmist says, all of our triumphs are through the work of God’s hands. “For thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy work. I will triumph through the works of your hands” Psalms 92:4