The library has a book that lists a whackload of Christian-inspired films, but I forget the title of that. While hunting for it I came across a different book getting reviewed by The Journal of Religion and Popular Culture called The Challenge of the Silver Screen: An Analysis of the Cinematic Portraits of Jesus, Rama, Buddha and Muhammad by Freek L. Bakker.
Summary-wise, Bakker has done what is rare, which is to inspire in readers a desire to watch movies older than one’s own grandfather, such as From the Manger to the Cross. Analysis-wise, though, he only bats .500. … who could argue with him that movies depicting religious figures in a more traditional light have been the most successful and best loved? Superhero movies (quasi-religious movies in their own way) confirm Bakker’s conclusion. …
I found reference to a book called The Bible According to Hollywood which sounds interesting, but isn’t the one I had in mind either.
Anyway, the article I meant to quote was posing the question I refer to in the post’s title.
It seems that while Hollywood is now aiming to promote its films in churches to a Christian audience, it’s not too hard to find the Christian message in film in general. It’s a chance for churches to use film to reach a new film loving public and it’s a chance for film lovers themselves to explore the themes of Christianity which turn up in films throughout cinema.
The article makes reference to a film I doubt I’ll bother seeing now, The Blind Side, the success of which apparently blindsided Hollywood, according to a completely different article from August:
“Hollywood didn’t predict its success because it didn’t necessarily do huge business in the theaters Hollywood usually tracks,” Mr. Jenkins said. “But it did in Peoria and Midland, Tex., and Alabama.
But back to movies with messages. Why does it become necessary to stamp a faith label on them? Why point to superheroes and call them Christ figures? There were other noble men of history and mythology who dreamed of better and did heroic things. Jesus didn’t do any heroic world saving shit. He just had some ideas and people later ran with them and gave him credit.
I’m not a literary historian or anything, but I think it could be argued (and probably has been successfully) that the Bible is a series of stories that fit the same archetypes as any stories told in any country where people had story tellers. There are always heroes and rogues and adversities and hopes and dreams and prophecies. They are standard story-telling fare. Ambition, reward, kindness, love, grinding your enemies into dust, whatever. The same themes wind up evident across the board, I’m sure. To claim Hollywood is aiming at a Christian mindset might be true, but even if it wasn’t obvious and deliberate, the same kind of films could still be made that tug heart strings and unite audiences. Those films have been made.