Steve’s Thoughts on Bill’s 5 Faith-filled Films

My blog partner, Bill, had a great idea…a list of films dealing with faith issues to ponder during this season of Lent.  I’ll respond to Bill’s list and then offer my own list later.

5. The Passion of the Christ…I have a few concerns about recommending this movie.  The first is its connection to Mel Gibson.  Since the movie’s release, he has been, shall we say, less than a prime model of proper Christian behavior.  Do we really want to present him as a spokesperson for the faith?  In and amongst his various shenanigans, his anti-Semitism stands out.  Some would argue that his writing and directing of this movie is affected by that anti-Semitism.  Then there is the issue that the movie is presented as Biblically accurate.  What does that even mean when you are taking portions from four Gospels and combining them into one movie?  Any telling of Jesus’ story is going to face that difficulty, but there is a deeper concern here.  Gibson did not use only the Gospels, but incorporated material from 19th century mystics, especially Catherine Emmerich.  Among other things, the scene where Jesus is thrown from the bridge by the arresting soldiers comes from this material.  Finally, there is the gore.  Does this depiction of the cruel punishment Jesus faced really give us a deeper understanding of what Christ’s death means?  As Bill says, veiwing this movie can leave you feeling numb and I wonder how that is an aid to faith.  As an alternative, I would recommend the 1977 movie, Jesus of Nazareth, or Jesus from 1999.  Both of these were originally TV mini-series and are now available on DVD.  The first has a star-studded cast and the second adds some interesting touches, such as Satan appearing in a modern black suit and, one of my favorite scenes, Jesus splashing the disciples as they talk by a well.

4. The Life of Brian…Yes, Bill, this is a fun movie, and even thought-provoking in many ways, but in the top 5 faith-filled movies?  One could even argue that it is profoundly anti-faith.  Is the movie asking the question, “who are you following” or is it a critique of any following at all?  Despite that, I do love this movie and I recommend it to those not easily offended.  It does have many great lines (one of my favorites: “He has a wife you know.”).  However, for a comedy that leads to deeper pondering about faith, I would recommend Dogma, but again only to those not easily offended.  Both of these, especially Dogma, earn their R ratings.  For those who want a comedy that’s a bit less edgy, how about Bruce Almighty?

3. Big Fish…Here I am in complete agreement with Bill.  This is a terrific movie.  If you haven’t seen it, stop whatever you are doing and watch it!  I love how it shows that a story that is not literally true can still reveal the truth.  It is also a marvelous movie about the healing of a father-son relationship.  My younger son hasn’t seen it yet, so I think we’ll share that experience this Lenten season!

2. The Lord of the Rings…Of course, Bill, you have to include the whole story.  They provide lots of food for thought.  Yes, Frodo, but also the whole notion of the fellowship, loyalty, etc. etc.  I definitely go with these over the Narnia series.  I was never a big fan of the Narnia books and the movies haven’t really caught me, either.  A historical sidenote: Tolkien, though  a friend of Lewis, was critical of the Narnia books.

1. The Matrix series…again, Bill, I’ll grant that you need to include all three, but I am one of those who jumped ship after the second movie.  The first one was dazzling and has been copied in so many ways since it came out, but the second one kind of lost me and I never saw the third.  Now though, Bill, you have me thinking I should give the whole series another try, which is, afterall, one of the reasons for this blog!

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One Response

  1. Great Stuff Steve! I read Bill’s recommendations when he posted them and took them all at face value. You add some thought provoking points though. Maybe an upcoming study on the difference between “who are you following” and “following at all”?

    Haven’t seen Big Fish yet (probably should’ve done that before commenting huh?). Is that a movie appropriate for Youth Group? I love Dogma for sure (I grew up on the Jay and Silent Bob movies… saw Dogma in theaters even)… and the existentialist in me sympathizes with the Brain in the Vat that is “The Matrix”. Really enjoying the Blog!

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