Masonry on the “Silver Screen”

Note: Listed below are MOVIES that have a Masonic theme or symbols somewhere in the story line.  These films are strictly “for entertainment” and should not be regarded as factual or historically accurate (at least in regard to freemasonry) .   The second part of the list is made up of TELEVISION PROGRAMS –  documentaries, “ quasi-documentaries”, and mini-series that examine freemasonry (the degree of fact or accuracy varies with the individual program). Brothers, let us know if you are aware of other films or television programs we should place on the list.  [Those listed with an asterisk (*) after the title are available on DVD.]

 

Movies:   Brothers War* (2009) Tino Struckmann, Michael Berryman, Oliver Gruner

Said to be based on an actual event, this film is set in the final days of World War II.  As Soviet forces begin their final push towards Berlin, a British Army major acting as an attaché to the Red Army  discovers a Russian plot against the pro-western Polish government-in-exile. The attaché is seized and put in a prison camp by the Soviet secret police.   He finds himself among Germen held prisoners and one, a German army captain, shares something in common with him: they are both freemasons (apparently they discover each other because the German captain has a Square and Compasses tattoo, and at some point the British major calls out “is there no help for the widows son”).  A bond forms between the captives and the film focuses on the two (along with a refugee Polish nurse) making an escape and trying to work their way to Western allied lines through some of the most desperate last battles on the eastern front while being pursued by a ruthless Soviet secret police officer.

 

The DaVinci Code* (2006) Tom Hanks, Audrey  Tautou, Ian McKellan.

Based on Dan Brown’s novel of the same title, a Harvard Professor, Robert Langdon [Tom Hanks], who specializes in historic “symbolism”, is called in to help make sense of bizarre markings and signs left at a murder scene in Paris.  He finds himself being drawn into a struggle between opposing groups attempting to protect or suppress what is essentially evidence that proves direct bloodline descendents of Jesus Christ exist in the 21st century.  So where is the Masonic connection??  Good Question!!!  The movie had some “hype” around it about a Freemason theme in the storyline, but its hard to see.  The final scenes in the movie center on Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland, which has been rumored to have ties to the Templar Knights who some regard as a medieval  “parent body” of  freemasonry. (The square and compasses also show up on a carving) That’s it ….case closed…..or rather case dismissed due to lack of evidence! Oh well, a few good plot twists and car chases, but poor Leonardo da Vinci’s art works are much more the target of “unique” interpretations than is freemasonry in this movie.

 

 

 

 

 

National Treasure* (2004).  Nicholas Cage, Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha, Sean Bean, Jon Voit.

A true “Grade-B swashbuckler” in the old-school tradition –  Treasure hunting historian Benjamin Gates [Nicholas Cage] tracks clues through American History that indicate somewhere out there is a massive treasurer buried by none other than the founding fathers who were freemasons. He winds up being pursued by “bad guys” who also believe the treasure is out there.  Gates antics draw the attention (and pursuit) of the FBI, and the agent in charge of the case is…you guessed it…a freemason.  Hey, it’s a good yarn that has it all, the hero, the girl, the side-kick, a treasure, plenty of action, and of course the happy ending!  You will find plenty of Masonic symbols being bantered about (but not being accurately interpreted).   Kick back enjoy it for what it is……”fun entertainment”.

 

 

 

 

Angels & Demons* (2006) Tom Hanks, Audrey  Tautou, Ian McKellan. He’s back!!!

Harvard Professor, Robert Langdon [Tom Hanks], is called in this time to help figure out who is killing candidates being considered for Pope.  The symbols and notes found at the murder (and attempted murder) scenes leads to the conclusion the Illuminati ( a group of late 18th century Enlightenment era thinkers who managed to anger several governments and churches with their philosophies on governing and religion) is alive and seeking its revenge.  How could it still exist after being disbanded and outlawed in the late 1700s???? Langdon has a rapid fire explanation summed up in a paragraph of script.  The Illuminati survived by infiltrating and taking over key positions within the freemasons.  The end!  If you run in to your kitchen to grab a “soda” out of “frig” while Tom Hanks is delivering this line….you will miss the whole Masonic connection in the movie!  Turns out the Illuminati isn’t even involved: the murders are an “inside job” (watch the movie – you’ll see what I mean).   You would think if we keep hearing a about a masonic theme, plot or subplot, in Dan Brown’s novels turned movies there would be more than a “cameo” appearance by freemasonry……Oh, wait – I forgot- Brown’s The Lost Symbol ….   We better be ready for that novel to “hit the silver screen” next!

 

 

 

 

The Ant Bully* (2006) Julia Roberts, Nicholas Cage,  Meryl Streep

An animated “kids flick” about a ten you old boy who is shrunk to the size of an ant after using his water pistol to “flush-out” an ant colony.  He is sentenced by the ants to live with them in their damaged colony.  Okay, so the tie to masonry here is some kind of allegorical one?  No, it is much simpler.  There is a scene in the movie where the boy’s grandmother jumps out of her rocking chair to go after something….engraved on the backrest of the rocker is the square and compasses  It is a split second scene and easy to miss, hit pause on your DVD player and you will see it – the image is unmistakable: the square and compasses –  No explanation anywhere for why the S&Cs appear on the rocker in this cartoon film.

 

 

 

 

 

Ghosts of Mississippi* (2006) Alec Baldwin, Whoopi Goldberg, James Wood

On June 12, 1963, civil rights leader and Prince Hall freemason Medgar Evers was gunned down by an assassin. After two attempts to gain a conviction, that ended in two hung juries  the case faded for nearly 31 years,  but was finally reopened.  Ghosts of Mississippi is  based on  the story of the  struggle to recover long “cold” evidence, open a new trial, and bring the murderer of civil rights leader Medgar Evers to justice. The film focuses on the efforts of the prosecutor (Alec Baldwin) and Medgar Evers widow (Whoopi Goldberg) to see justice done in this final attempt to resolve the case.  Throughout the movie there are a number of characters wearing Masonic lapel pins, or vehicles showing masonic car badges.  In real life some of the  figures (besides Medgar Evers) portrayed in the movie did have Masonic ties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are You A Mason? (1934) Sonnie Hale, Robertson Hare, Davy Burnaby, Gwyneth Lloyd.  [British]

Originally a 1915 stage play, this comedy had masonry as its central theme…well, “sort of”.  It turns out the two main characters are not masons, but they spend the entire movie trying to convince other people they are in fact “genuine” freemasons.  Why would they bother to do this?  It turns out that for years the two men had been telling their wives they were going to Lodge meetings when in fact they were out “bar hopping” (they had never joined a lodge).  Problems arise when one of “drinking buddy’s” daughters returns to visit bringing her new husband with her– a real freemason!  (availability of this film is unknown.)

 

 

 

 

National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets* (2007).  Nicholas Cage, Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha, Ed Harris, Jon Voit, Helen Mirren

Obviously A sequel to the highly successful National Treasure (1) – but with a much briefer reference to masonry! For those who have not seen the movie it centers on Benjamin Gates [Nicholas Cage] trying to get his hands on “The Presidents Book” (or “Book Of Secrets”)  a document that only U.S. Presidents may read or place entries in thus making it the “most classified of classified documents”. Gates is convinced evidence exists in the book that can help him clear an ancestor’s name who has been implicated in the Lincoln assassination. As you might have guessed he gets the book and it leads to another treasure hunt , another bad guy chase, another FBI pursuit (by the same freemason agent from part one ) , more adventures with his “girl” and side-kick, etc. As he traces “historic clues” all over the U.S and Europe, he winds up dealing with a letter from Queen Victoria to Confederate General Albert Pike.  In the trail of clues Gates follows he becomes convinced that part of what he is looking for is hidden somewhere in a smaller model of Frederic Bartholdi’s statue of Liberty located in Paris.  He is sure the clue is there because Bartholdi was a freemason and, according to Gates, “ Freemasons built clues into everything!”  Gates gets the “Presidents Book” in part with the help of the sitting U.S. President who in return for access to the book asks a favor of Gates: would he please take the time to read Page 47 in the book.  At the end of the movie,  he asks Gates what he thinks of Page 47 – the movie ends before Gates can answer.  Was there ever any doubt this “paved the road” for a National Treasure 3?  So, will the Masonic references continue?   Although this sequel did well with audiences, stories circulated that a number of fans were hoping that this second installment would pursue even more about the “mysterious” freemasons. Supposedly (who really knows) the director wants to bring a stronger Masonic connection back into the second sequel, but at the same time is committed to pick up on the continuation of the “Page 47 plot”. There are rumors among those “fans” following the development of National Treasurer 3 that Page 47 is going to contain information that ties Masonic rituals to some great secret about ancient Egypt.   Lets hold on to our seats and see where this one goes!   [the expectation is National Treasure 3 will be released in late 2011 ….. UPDATE: well, here it is 2012 and no “NT3”, rumor is it is now in the scripting process and will be a 2014 release].

 

 

The Man Who Would be King* (1975), Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Christopher Plummer

This movie is based on a short story by brother Rudyard Kipling.  Two British non-commissioned officers Daniel Dravot and Peachy Carnehan [ Sean Connery and Michael Cain] stationed in India resign their ranks and set out as “soldiers of fortune”/adventures in the Hindu Kush  (now the northern Afghanistan/ Pakistan border region).  Years later a British journalist Rudyard Kipling (played be Christopher Plummer), who had met the two ex-soldiers several years before their departue, is working in his office at night when he is approached by what he firsts believes to be a street beggar, who turns out to be Carnehan. Carnehan then proceeds to tell Kipling a fantastic story about the exploits of the two ex-soldiers that ends in the death of Draveot and Canehan being reduced to a physically and mentally broken man.   Freemasonry pops up all over the place in the movie.  All three of the main characters are freemasons; Sean Connery gives the distress sign; Freemason symbols show up in remote regions of the Kush and are said to have been left by Alexander the Great (that is a new angle!);  Masonic jewelry worn by Dravot convinces “locals” in the Kush he has divine connections and should be made a king.  Accuracies versus inaccuracies about freemasonry aside, this movie is a must see…. It is just a great story – plain and simple! Let’s face it with Sean Connery, Michael Caine, and Christopher Plummer playing the lead roles (and directed by John Houston)…how could it be bad.???

 

 

 

Sons of the Desert* (1933)  Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Charley Chase, Mae Busch

Yes, THE classic comedy team of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in a not too thinly veiled spoof on the Shriners.  Laurel & Hardy play two members of the “fraternal organization” Sons of the Desert (if the name isn’t close enough to Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine to convince you of a “Masonic connection” check out the fezzes they are wearing) who promise their “lodge” they will attend the group’s national convention in Chicago.  Of course, they fail to get their wives’ “permission” to go before taking this oath and predictably find their spouses dead set against it!  So I guess you can easily determine the plot from this point on.  Laurel and Hardy launch into a series of slapstick misadventures trying to maneuver around their “significant others” and get to the convention.  Of the four feature length films this comedy duo made, most call “Sons” Laurel and Hardy’s  best. Just in case you didn’t know, Oliver Hardy was, in real life, a freemason.

 

 

 

From Hell* (2001) Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, Ian Holm

Another (very) fictional retelling of the Victorian era Whitechapel (a.k.a. Jack the Ripper) murders based on a 2000 graphic novel [a.k.a avant-garde comic book].   The story line is bizarre to say the least.  It follows a theory that the Whitechapel murders were the result of Queen Victoria employing a high ranking British freemason, Sir William Gull (Ian Holm),  to silence those aware of an illegitimate birth within the ranks of the royal family.  A British detective Frederick Abberline (Johnny Depp) assigned to investigate the murders realizes Gull is the “guilty” party but higher authorities block his attempts to bring Gull to justice.  Out of frustration Abberline resigns from London’s Metropolitan Police, but Gull does not escape!  He is whisked away to stand trial by a high freemason court (we have those???), found to be stark raving mad, and is sentenced to life in a secret masonic prison  (we have those too???).  At this point ,please refer back to the opening sentence phrase…a “very fictional retelling.”  That sums the film up in a nutshell!  The movie is generally seen as negative in its portrayal of freemasonry (not surprisingly since one of the original theories of royal involvement in the Whitehall murders was put forth by British author Stephen Knight, who wrote several works attacking masonry).

 

Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy* (2005) Bill Bailey, Martin Freeman, Mos Def

Warning: You may wind up wondering “what on earth am I watching” ( most of this movie does not take place on Earth) unless you read Douglas Adams original book of the same title.  This movie is based on Adam ‘s novel, but fails to gradually guide the viewer  into its universe of galactic madness and slapstick idiocy the way the book does.  Thus without the background knowledge supplied by the book you could go just as whacky as the novel’s characters trying  figure out what is going on. The movie centers on an electronic book known as The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy which isused by many  alien species to travel through space and time by “bumming rides” or stowing away on conveniently passing space craft, thus creating numerous opportunities to visit various planets and “peoples”.   Early in the film,  an earth man, Arthur Dent,  discovers his best friend, Ford Prefect, is one of these alien hitchhikers, who is about to depart earth because he knows it is going to be demolished to make way for a high speed hyper-space bypass (the space equivalent of an eight lane highway). Together, Arthur and Ford depart the planet and begin a series of zany misadventures across the galaxy, depending on their trusty Hitchhikers Guide to get them out of one bind after another. So where is the Masonic connection??? Well, its not in the film’s theme or in its script…. it’s in the background!   Several scenes in the movie were filmed in Freemason’s Hall of the United Grand Lodge of England (Queen Street, London). In addition, the premiere party for the film’s release was also held in Freemason’s Hall.  Apparently Freemason’s Hall has a long history of appearing in films and hosting premieres.   It has also been used for a number of television productions.   In fact, in 2003, 2004, and 2005 – Freemasons Hall was voted by   film producers as one of the top locations for availability, accessibility, and services helpful to location filming.  Other recent popular films that have used the famous Masonic location include – “Wings of a Dove”, “Cody Banks 2”, “Johnny English”, “The Saint”,  “Life and Death of Peter Sellers”, “Basic Instinct II”, and “Penelope”.

 

 

 

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps* (2010)  Michael Douglas, Shia LeBeouf, Carey Mulligan

If you saw the original Wall Street you could never forget Michael Douglas character “Gordon Gekko”, the master of “greed is good!”   Like most in the audience, you probably cheered when “G.G.” gets what’s coming to him, and is shipped off to prison for his actions as a security funds manager.  Well, in the sequel “Money Never Sleeps” Gekko has served his time and is back on the street, looking to “corner the markets” again.  Although banned from stock and securities trading in the U.S., Gekko goes “off-shore” to rebuild his financial empire, while at the same time, dragging a young Wall Street Securities broker (who winds up marrying Gekko’s estranged daughter) into his web of questionable practices. As Gekko “wheels-and- deals” his way back, he butts heads with other securities dealers whose practices are as shady as his own.  There is, however, the background presence of an all powerful long-standing Wall Street tycoon, Jules Steinhardt (played by Eli Wallach) whom all pay deference to in hopes of winning his favor as well as a portion of his fortune.  Steinhardt appears to follow a course of “let the sharks devour each other and I will deal with those left standing”, but when he shows up for meetings (where he of course sits at the head of the table) – his suit jacket always sports a lapel pin that is unmistakably the Square and Compasses.  A “subtle hint” from the film’s producers that Masons control the world’s high finances??   If so, why are there complaints in most lodges anytime dues go up a couple bucks??

 

 

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen* (2003)Sean Connery, Stuart Townsend, Peta Wilson.

Here we go with another graphic novel based adventure “flick”.  This time its an unbeatable team of late 19th century England’s greatest fictional figures.  Throw together Alan Quatermain, Captain Nemo, Rodney Skinner (the Invisible Man), Dorian Gray, Dr. Jekyll (so of course you automatically get Mr. Hyde), Mina Harker ( a vampire and the only woman in the “association”),  and an uninvited American marksman, Tom Sawyer, and you have a League that can take on about any mission. Why would one need such a high-powered assembly of the extraordinary??? Because you are taking on the most extraordinary villain of the era: Professor Moriarity, who, in this film seems, to be trying to start World War I prematurely.  The movie is an action swashbuckler that takes “the League” all over the world and its on these travels you have to watch for Masonic connection – the Square and Compasses. The Square and Compasses appears at least four times in the movie on items ranging from a ring worn by the “bad guy” to two massive bronze doors leading to a secret library meeting room. Oh, there is one other connection, the graphic novel this film is based on and the movie “From Hell” is based on (see above)  share the same author – Alan Moore .

 

 

The Freemason* (2013)  Sean Astin, Randy Wayne, Alex McKenna. MV5BMTcxNDY3ODc5MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjIyNjUwMTE@._V1_SX214_AL_

A wealthy banker is murdered. The banker’s daughter and soul heir, Rana (Alex McKenna), calls upon Cyrus Rothwell (Randy Wayne), a brilliant but eccentric freelance writer, to assist in the investigation. Teaming up with a  veteran homicide detective Leon Weed (Sean Astin), they suddenly find themselves thrust into the “secret” world of Freemasonry- pursuing a killer who is searching for a legendary relic, cloaked by hundreds of years of myth and mystery. Rothwell finds himself endangered when he comes to the conclusion the killer is one of the dead banker’s close colleagues. With an inheritance of millions hanging in the balance, everyone is a suspect and every action perceived as motive. Rothwell gets in deeper and deeper as he finds himself becoming more and more involved with the heiress and Masonic mysteries that have ties to his own past . Cyrus is forced to confront powers beyond his natural senses and the realities of his past in order to identify catch the killer before he murders a second time. The Freemason is a well thought-out suspense thriller-  that is part Sherlock Holmes , part Alfred Hitchcock, creating a gripping mystery for the viewer to unravel.

Made for Television:

The following are television programs made for and broadcast on various networks such as the Discover Channel, History Channel, National Geographic, cable movie channels, etc.  The list does NOT include DVDs produced by Masonic bodies: Those  programs are listed on a separate part of this website, Masonic Media.

 

 

Freemasonry Revealed: Secret History of Freemasons* [ 188 mins- History Channel](TV 2007)

Just about any review you read about this documentary will use the term “sensationalism” .  A “nice” term for long on speculation and attention grabbing but short on accuracy and fact.  It tends to pit people with credible knowledge of freemasonry (the accurate parts of the “documentary”) against the conspiracy guys who love playing “connect-the-letters-on-a-dollar-bill-and-prove-a-new-world-order-run-by-masons”.   It uses the “we’ve-presented–both-sides-now-you-decide” tactic that seems to be prevalent in many  television documentaries that tend to try and make fact and speculation a credible mix. Still, its probably worth watching so you can sharpen you’re your own sense of what is credible and what is not.

 

 

 

Secrets of The Freemasons* [100 mins.- History Channel]  (TV 2007)

This documentary seems to be a pretty straightforward history of freemasonry in America (please note, straight forward is not a synonym for “dead” accurate).  At least it interviews some credible figures such as Scottish Rite Journal editor S. Brent Morris Ph.D.  The problem is the program occasionally has to slip into some sensationalist dialogue/hype  (keep your audience’s interest I guess) such as – “as shadowy as they are influential ”,  “cloaks its interests”,  “bewildering array of  rituals and codes”.  The film also ends without really addressing freemasonry in the 20th century in any appreciable depth (a significant  oversight considering it was one of the most dynamic periods in the history of freemasonry and its growth).  Still, it would probably be good to view and discuss as a lodge activity.

 

 

The Pillars of Earth* (2010) [480 mins. – made for T.V. mini-series] Ian McShane, Matthew Macfadyen, Eddie Redmayne, Hayley Atwell.

This one is a little different. Based on a historic novel by Ken Follett, its focus is operative not speculative masonry .  The story follows a family of stone mason’s who lose their patronage and are forced to drift from town to town in 12th century England hoping to find food, shelter, and work.  A very devout and sympathetic  monk allows the family to take brief shelter in the monastery he oversees in the English town of Kingsbridge (fictional).  One evening, the  village’s ancient Romanesque church, run by the monks, burns and collapses.   When the mason’s family discovers the head monk who took them in is determined to raise the resources to build a new church, the father (a master mason by trade) offers his services and those of his apprentice son and adopted son.  He  tells the monks of Kingsbridge he will design and begin construction of a structure in the “new cathedral style” in return for permanent food and lodging. He also informs the monks monetary payment can be discussed after the parish has raised adequate funds to keep the project going.  Unfortunately ,the noble efforts of the mason and head monk are dragged into the vicious politics of a royal civil war and the unbridled ambitions of an equally vicious bishop.  Tragedy results but in the end the family and monk’s goal of building the cathedral succeeds.  The intrigue and trials and tribulations of the story aside, there are a number of scenes in the movie that will be of historic interest to speculative masons . Freemasonry traces its origins to the cathedral builders of the Middle Ages. There are scenes where the master mason discusses his design and the “new geometry” which allows for higher walls, more natural lighting, better supported roofs, etc.  There are numerous scenes where the gavel, level, square, plumb and other symbols of freemasonry, are seen in historic operative use. [ Just a couple cautions: this is not a one evening viewing – the full series is eight (8) hours long !  – there are also some graphic scenes that give the production a TV-MA rating)

 

History Decoded- Secrets of the Dollar Bill. [50 mins. History Channel ]  (TV 2007 )

Here is another one that should be filed in the same folder with Freemasonry Revealed (see above).  In this program, conspiracy theorists are assembled to “prove” that the designs and graphics appearing on America’s dollar bill are mostly masonic and the result of  freemasonry’s powerful influence within government circles.  Its long on conspiracy theorists stating opinions or doing things like connecting letters on the back of a dollar to spell MASON (I was able to connect letters to spell my dog’s name!!!!!) and very short on hard evidence or fact.  It really gets into who was a freemason at the time the bill was being designed.  The program starts by pointing a finger at Benjamin Franklin, a freemason, who actually did come up with several designs for an American currency, but the producers never show  his designs.  The actual Franklin designs do exist but you would be hard pressed to find any Masonic symbols.  In fact, one would be hard pressed to find anything in Franklin’s models that resemble todays Federal Reserve Note (dollar) .  Maybe somebody told that to the “documentary’s” directors, in the middle of production, because the video suddenly “fast forwards” to the Roosevelt (FDR) administration and squarely plants the conspiracy  to use masonic symbols on President Roosevelt and his Vice President Henry Wallace (who also served earlier as Secretary of Agriculture).  What evidence is there to back this theory?….. well not much beyond the fact that both FDR and Wallace were  both Masons.   The evidence seems to get flimsier as the program goes on and then , after trying to convince the viewer  for 45 minutes that there is a masonic conspiracy behind his or her “cash”, it “sort of ends” on a note of …”well, probably not!”   Talk about confusing the audience!!! A few credible sources are allowed to speak to “debunk” the masonic dollar conspiracy theory, but their input  was not really necessary…. this documentary seems to do a good job of hammering its own credibility. You also have to wonder that if there was a conspiracy to show the influence of freemasonry in government via currency, why was the lowly one dollar bill selected when the U.S. Government was printing bills up to a $100,000 denomination in the 1930s.  Would not Masonic designs on a much larger denomination bill show a real “flexing of Masonic muscle”??? So, is this or is it not worth watching?  Let us put it this way…. if the Red Sox are really getting clobbered in a game you don’t want to continue to watch and the only other option on TV is the tenth rerun of the 1990 Master’s Tournament on the Golf Channel, you may want to throw “Secrets of the Dollar Bill” into your DVD player just for laughs.

 

Ancient Aliens: The Founding Fathers   [50 mins. The History Channel] (2011).

If you are unfamiliar with the premise of this series (which is now in its third season) , here goes:  In our past, aliens came to earth and gave us most of the knowledge, and basis for the architecture and technologies we now employ and enjoy.  Proof, according to this multiple part program, can be found in ancient structures, paintings, legends, and symbols.   Now this “theory” alone should tell you a great deal of space and effort should not be devoted to reviewing this so-called documentary series for this column, except for the fact masonry pops up in a third season part called “The Founding Fathers.” Maybe the best way to explain this particular program is to express it as a formula: The Founding Fathers + Freemasonry + Egyptian Architecture = Ancient Aliens. Now if this formula doesn’t make a bit of sense to you, wait until you see the program itself!!!  Better yet, let me save you some trouble – don’t bother – it is a complete waste.  Sorry about such a harsh criticism, but about the time I had to hear that George Washington, a freemason, may have received alien knowledge while encamped at Valley Forge – I changed the channel to watch a much more historically accurate: Mel Brook’s  History of the World.  

 

America’s Book Of Secrets: The Freemasons* [46 minutes. The History Channel] (2012)

Freemasonry has got to be one of the History Channel’s favorite “topics for investigation” or, at the least, one of its favorite “Sensationalized Subjects”….I guess it depends on how you want to “spin” it.  We always seem to get  a kind of “Jekyll- Hyde” treatment in most all the programs that deal with freemasonry, and the latest entry does not fail to disappoint.   Enter America’s Book of Secrets paraphrasing its title from The Presidents Book of Secrets that last Hollywood installment of National Treasure featuring famed (but fictional) treasure hunter Benjamin Gates (played by Nicholas Cage). America’s Book of Secrets  is a series that,  as the History Channel puts it, “lifts the veil of mystery” that surrounds some of the most legendary monuments and powerful organizations in the United States.  The first episode “explored and exposed” the White House’s hidden history, secret rooms, secret visitors, unseen security,  secret protocols, yaddah-yaddah,yaddah.  Okay, if you survived watching the first episode –  guess what  the second part in the series is all about…RIGHT – the Freemasons!!!!!!   So, like a movie trailer trying to draw an audience, here is the H.C.’s “profile” of us (from its program description and ads ):  They are America’s most private organization.  Among their numbers are the most powerful men in America and the world .  They are the most elite brotherhood and most well known “secret society” in the world  [I want to insert another “yaddah, yaddah, yaddah” at this point, but this description is too flattering to cut-off !]  How did the Freemasons shape America? What goes on at Freemason meetings? What secrets ceremonies and rituals are still conducted today? What is the meaning of Freemasonry symbols like the eye, the square and the compass? Are the Freemasons part of a New World Order with plans to control the world? For centuries, the Freemasons have been thought to be the architects behind the world’s greatest international conspiracies. But more elusive than the organization itself–are its secrets. Secrets that have remained untold…until now. As for the forty-six minute program itself – after a minute or so of a sensationalist introduction,  the program actually “settles down” and gives  a fairly good overview  that examines  Freemasonry’s connection with American History.  There are interviews with credible sources such as Christopher Hodapp,  S. Brent Morris, and Akram Elias.  So, just when you think this program is going to be okay – WHAM- the  producers   “fly-in” the “Area 51-everything-is-a-conspiracy” specialists like Jim Marr and Alex Jones that just have to let you know about the great world-wide Masonic conspiracy  (they can’t really tell you what it is – but they know it is out there!!!).   If this all sounds familiar, it is probably because you have seen the previous H.C. specials dealing with  Masonry and recognize both the format and much content. There is not that much new material  in this program, except for several interviews and the production date.  If you have seen the previous H.C. programs dealing with Masonry you have, for all practical purposes, seen America’s Book of Secrets: The Freemasons.  Still, if you are channel surfing some evening, looking to “kill” forty-six minutes, and this program happens to be on, you may want to give it a look  – but do not feel guilty that after a few minutes of viewing you have an urge to continue advancing the channel button on your remote because “it feels like a rerun” .

 

Cephalopod Lodge  –SpongeBob SquarePants  15 minute short (2009)

Nickelodeon Studios

sbsp-2 No -really ?!?! The kids cartoon – SpongeBob???  Yes, really there is an episode called “Cephalopod Lodge” in which Squidworth Tentacles, the squid (calamari based) neighbor of SpongeBob and Patrick Starfish, is kicked out of his local fraternal Lodge, because lodge members believe he allowed SpongeBob and Patrick to sneak in and view one of their most secret initiation ceremonies (it involves being zapped by a Moray eel).  The rest of this animated short follows the antics of SpongeBob and Patrick as they attempt to try anything that will get Squidworth reinstated with his brotherhood.  With secret handshakes, a lodge master, tyler, and initiation secrets,  its pretty clear who is being alluded to in this cartoon parody.   SpongeBob SquarePants???   Patrick StarFish???Squidworth???…….if you don’t have a clue…go talk to your kids or grand kids.

 

 

 

The Simpsons- Season 6 Episode 12 – Homer The Great  30 mins. (1995)

 stonecutters_simpsons-4 And speaking of cartoons, let us not overlook America’s favorite dysfunctional animated family – the Simpsons.  In Season 6 episode 12, Homer, the father of the Simpson clan, has his ups and downs with the local fraternal lodge known as “The Stonecutters” ( of course the name is no hint as to what fraternal group the program may be parodying ).   Homer seeks membership when he comes to the conclusion that friends of his who are. members of this group seem to get special treatment whenever they flashed their special rings at anybody from bosses to bartenders.  He discovers the only way to gain membership is either to be an immediate family member of a stonecutter or to have saved the life of one.  Homer discovers his own grandfather was a stonecutter so this becomes his ticket in.  After passing the series initiations most of which are college fraternity style paddling activities, Homer becomes privy to secrets such as roads that by pass traffic jams that only Stonecutters can use; the real universal emergency number 912;  where one can get free drinks and free rollerblades; etc.  One minute the lodge is upholding him as their “chosen one” (due to a birthmark that looks like their symbol) the next they are trying to get rid of him (for accidentally using their sacred scroll as a dinner napkin).  If you are unfamiliar with Homer Simpson, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie, etc., following the same course as SpongeBob – ask your kids!

 

The Doctor Blake Mysteries: “Darkness Visible” [60 mins.]                 ( Season 3 – Episode 8) (2015)  British Broadcasting Corporation/Australian Broadcasting Corporation/ PBS

2658164In this installment of the popular PBS mystery series Dr. Blake has to deal with a  “murder most foul” within the membership of a Masonic Lodge.  His forensic investigation crosses paths with his own past – revealing much more than just evidence concerning the poisoning mystery he is trying to solve.         This episode is worth watching just too see what the series’ producers believe takes place in a Masonic Lodge Room. Sorry – cannot say much without this description becoming a “spoiler” !