Another side of balanced conversations about film... 3 questions to ask when you go into the cinemas
“I didn’t want you to enjoy the film. I wanted you to look very closely at your own soul.”
Sam Peckinpah, director
Christian discrimination is called for, but in two senses of that word. Not only should Christian moviegoers be at times selective, but they must also become knowledgeable film viewers as well.
Robert K. Johnston, Reel Spirituality: Theology and film in dialogue
I love studying the Bible. I love watching film.
Many People might say these two things would be a contradiction in terms. If this is you fall back position, you are missing the point and missing the impact that film has on our culture. In this visual era, I think they go hand in hand.
I recently started a dialogue on the reasoning behind the attacks on the film ‘Noah’ and the lack of attack on films like ‘Son of God’ and ‘Heaven is for Real.’ All of these films have their weaknesses in biblical interpretation, some with more challenges than others. Unfortunately most of the Christian critics due not discuss the variations in production quality in these films. Many other critics seem to miss the spiritual dimension of most films. The lack of balance in these arguments seem to be concerned with the film’s ability to tick all of their theological boxes, but miss the discussion of quality of the film. While to completely side step the 'God' question of film lacks depth of awareness of the human experience.
Film is the choice of entertainment for most of modern culture. Filming biblical stories and accounts have been going on since movie making began and will continue for years to come. Some of the most successful films in history have found their source material in the biblical narrative, because the source material is so rich. (Ten Commandments, Ben Hur, The Passion of the Christ) to think that they are merely a retesting of the Bible or simply entertainment leaves the viewer with an 'unbalanced' perspective.
For the sake of a balanced conversation in critique of film and its biblical content, let me suggest three questions when you go into a film:
How good was the film?
What did this film have to say about God?
Does the connection between God and film make a difference in the human experience?
Why these three questions?
1. How good was the film? The quality of the film determines if it will have an audience. Production quality would include direction, acting, writing and visual effects. Story is critical to film production. Quality is a combination of all of theses components. Unfortunately most Christian productions miss this key issue and miss the opportunity for building an audience. Not all popular films are of good quality, but it does make a difference in building an audience. At the end of the film, were you taken away into the world the director is communicating or did you wish you could get those two hours back? This is a good starting point when viewing film. Quality.
2. What did this film have to say about the spiritual side of humanity and God? Maybe you have never thought about the connection, but does the film communicate anything about humanity and God? This leaves us with evaluating the discussion of the spiritual side of humanity and God in the film. All films have some door to a spiritual conversation, but we have to be looking for them before we start viewing them. If we can ask the question of what the film has to say about the spiritual or God, we can begin to consider a basis for discussion. Just think about the spiritual influence of film, finish this sentence, ' May the ... be with you.' I would argue all film has a spiritual element.
3. How does the connection between God and the film make a difference in life? If you have taken the time to consider the second question, then it can move you into this question. Considering what made you think about God in the film will assist you in how to have a deeper conversation after viewing the film. Also, it may cause a deeper evaluation of our own lives.
All these questions might cause some to ask, ‘Aren’t movies just entertainment?’ Yes and no.
They are meant to be entertainment, but the impact that films have on our culture goes deeper than sheer pleasure. They make us think about ourselves, they give us ‘lines’ and stories that are reflected in our own lives and they help in shaping the thoughts of our culture. More discussion on that in future articles.
People are talking about what is on at the cinema and people are talking about God, are you willing to be part of the discussion?
Article written by Russell Matthews @ Russelling Reviews