Faith and Film

Being an honest religious person means that you can criticize your own side.  Anyone who knows me in my personal life or even solely through this blog knows that I like film.  As a person of faith, I want to admit that faith based films in recent years have been absolutely terrible.  It’s gotten to the point that good faith based films are not even associated with the Christian film industry such as Silence or Hacksaw Ridge.

Obviously the best faith based movie ever made was The Passion of the Christ directed by devout Catholic Mel Gibson.  Gibson also made Hacksaw Ridge which is another great faith based film.  Mel can’t do it all.  We need others to step up to the plate.  We can’t let God’s Not Dead, The Young Messiah or Exodus: God and Kings be the movies that the faith based community gives to the world.

Pure Flix Entertainment has done a couple of decent films but ultimately hasn’t been able to get past the God’s Not Dead image.  However, films like I’m Not Ashamed show that they can make good movies when they want to.

Theologically, I like to turn to Scripture and Tradition.  This is no different when it comes to film.  There is an entire treasure chest of movie ideas waiting to be put on the big screen.  A few years ago, there was talk of Mel Gibson making a movie about the Maccabean Revolt but it didn’t seem to go anywhere.  Movies about Saints of the Church should be looked into as well.  A Man for all Seasons was a great faith based film based on the life of a holy Saint.

The Battle of Lepanto is another example of where a movie can be made.  Unfortunately companies like Pure Flix Entertainment are not Catholic and are probably not interested in this rich Catholic history.  They simply want to make modern movies.  It’s a shame since we’re not living in the glory days of Christianity.  There is no equivalent of St. Francis of Assisi alive today.

The most ironic part of this is that this is a time when faith based films could make a comeback.  Moonlight won best picture this year.  I’ve seen six of the nine Oscar movies nominated for best picture and Moonlight was by far the worst.  Hacksaw Ridge didn’t win probably because Mel Gibson’s name is so blackened by his past actions.  This only means that more people need to step up.  It really bothers me as a Christian that we’ve essentially given the arts over to the secular liberals.  It even seems that it happened without a fight.

Faith based films can win again.  Mel has proven it and past films have proven it as well.  The most important thing that people of faith need to remember is that we can look to Scripture and Tradition.  We have more than enough good ideas for movies.  Here are some movies that I’d like to see:

– The Battle of Lepanto

– The Siege of Rhodes

– The Maccabean Revolt

– The life of Pius IX and the fall of the Papal States

– The life of St. Francis of Assisi

– Life and events in Jerusalem leading up to the destruction of the first Temple

If you have any ideas for a good faith based movie, feel free to share them in the comments below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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4 thoughts on “Faith and Film

  1. The House of David

    A Games of Thrones style series, covering all the action, infighting and political intrigue spanning David’s youth and defeat of Goliath, flight from Saul, double dealings under/against the Philistines, kingship, and family drama.

    That being said…

    >We can’t let God’s Not Dead, The Young Messiah or Exodus: God and Kings be the movies that the faith based community gives to the world.The most ironic part of this is that this is a time when faith based films could make a comeback. Moonlight won best picture this year. I’ve seen six of the nine Oscar movies nominated for best picture and Moonlight was by far the worst. <

    Actually no, it's a given by now that a film (and its director and stars) has to pander to social justice and liberal norms to even be considered.

  2. >We can’t let God’s Not Dead, The Young Messiah or Exodus: God and Kings be the movies that the faith based community gives to the world.

    Exodus: God and Kings? I thought this film, directed by a self-professed atheist, is about on par for Scriptural faithfulness with Noah (2014)?

    • Regarding Exodus: God and Kings. I really enjoyed this film, and I didn’t think I would (particularly given that watching Gladiator made me realise that Scott was overrated). Nothing was going to match a Charlton Heston-type Biblical epic (saw the man himself in Aberdeen in the 1980s!), but I didn’t expect that a film covering that subject matter could be so free of spirituality.

      Where was the devotion of the Hebrews? When the Jews made it across the Red Sea due to a miracle, why did they not sing hymns of praise? Why did Moses so resent being the recipient of Divine revelation?

      Are some film-makers ashamed to be religious? Is to be left to atheists or crypto-Christians?

      I enjoyed “Last Days in the Desert” (although I wish they would get the racial aspects right and not keep planting fair-skinned men from the Northern world in the Middle East). However looking back it got so much completely wrong, but I did enjoy how it made you think about Jesus Christ.

      Somewhere there is a really good religious film just waiting to be made. I haven’t seen “The Passion of the Christ” as I am not sure that I could tolerate it (and Braveheart was utter rubbish). Is it worth seeing?

      • The Passion is very narrowly focused on one thing alone: Jesus’ sufferings in the arrest, trial, flogging and crucifixion. 90% of the film is just a visualization of the experience.

        I would say the great value of the film is in SHOWING just how brutal it was – particularly when Jesus is flogged and a shard on the whip gets embedded in His flesh, which the Roman torturer yanks out forcefully (together with a chunk of flesh). I recall some of the audience gasping at that scene in particular.

        It’s much harder to accept the Swoon Theory after understanding exactly what Jesus underwent, especially seeing it rather than just reading it.

        As for films about Moses… I recall an old tongue-in-cheek recounting of how The Prince of Egypt narrowly avoided a similar fate:

        “And in this animatic, here we have Moses all afraid and unsure of what to do… And next, Miriam the strong female lead smacks him on the head and tells him to have faith, shoves the staff in his hand and orders him to part the Red Sea!”

        “Ooh great, great! I’m liking the vibe here! But who’s that guy in the corner over there?”

        “Uh, you mean the tall blonder guy with a hammer? I think Doug drew him in, who’s that blonde guy Doug?”

        “Oh, that’s Thor – the Norse god of Thunder. I thought since we’re messing with the Bible story here, might as well toss him in there.”

        And that is how The Prince of Egypt was saved from being modernized.