My husband is a movie junkie and a film geek. By osmosis, I too ,have become somewhat of a movie nerd (although not quite a geek…yet). Jonathan and I often sit and discuss the films we love. We talk cinematography, direction, screenplay, and of course, acting.
We see all kinds of movies, from comedies, to dramas, independent films, to cult classics. But one type of film we avoid at all costs is the dreaded Christian film. [twilight zone music here…followed by a woman’s scream]
Lets face it, Christian movies suck. In decades of cinema history, maybe 3 or 4 films rate as a quality Christian film. Chariots of Fire would be one. The Passion of Christ another. I’m blanking on a third or fourth off the top of my head.
Most of them are, shall we say, totally cheesy, lame, boring and unrealistic.
Here’s what happens: Some movie producer guy and his movie producer crew say “Hey let’s make another Christian movie and let’s make it so unappealing, so unrealistic, and so corny that not a single non-Christian would ever want to see it. It’ll be a movie for Midwest Bible belt families and it will be rated G.” Yippee.
Film is a powerful medium with which to influence and affect individuals. A single film can impact pop-culture, introduce new slang, and even spearhead an entire movement.
So where are all the provocative, convicting, entertaining, and excellent Christian movies that even (and especially) non-Christians would want to see? I long to see a Christian film that a person who has never stepped into a church or cracked open a Bible could relate to…basically, I’d love to see a movie about Christ not a “Christian” movie.
Why are we squandering and wasting the medium of film when it holds great opportunity to evangelize and reach those usually unreached?
There are quite a few reasons why Christian films, overall, tend to be plain bad. For starters, we are dealing with Hollywood–not the most moral nor faith-based of industries.
Secondly, Christians demand “Christian movies.” Why? I guess so that they have something to do on a Friday night or to have a selection to show to kids at home or in youth group.
Dallas Jenkins, an Evangelical, who also happens to be a movie reviewer sums it up brilliantly:
Message films are rarely exciting. So by their very nature, most Christian films aren’t going to be very good because they have to fall within certain message-based parameters. And because the Christian audience is so glad to get a “safe, redeeming, faith-based message,” even at the expense of great art, they don’t demand higher artistic standards.
As a result, Christian films take place in some kind of alternate reality in which no one swears, no one smokes, no one gets angry, no one really struggles, and certainly no one struggles with sin. It’s like a big ball of cotton candy; sugary, sweet, pink and fluffy.
The hubster and I dream about starting a film production someday, but in the meantime I hope someone out there in movie land gets their act together and decides to produce an award winning Christian film (and Movie of the Year awarded by your local moms Bible study doesn’t count). I long to see a film that underscores our need for Jesus without diluting the story of people’s lives within it….a movie that acknowledges the hardships in life, not one that ignores them altogether. And certainly a movie that doesn’t sell Christianity as the solution to all problems or the way to an easy life.
How about a film that sells Jesus as the King and nothing less. A film that demonstrates our need for Him, actually everyone’s need, and captures (as best as humanly possible) the power of His love. And a film that stars Brad Pitt or George Clooney (I’m just saying…) That’s the movie I want to see and no doubt many others would too.
So if you’ve got an idea for a rockin’ Christian film, get to writing. The world needs your screenplay.
Do you think film is a good or not-so-good-way to evangelize? Why or why not? Why do you think Christian films are lame? Or do you happen to love them?
48 thoughts on “Why are Christian Movies so Bad?”
Nailed it here. They nauseate me. These are a film representation of the status quo, plastic Christian facade. Real Christian people aren’t like these characters. I’m not as bothered by the budget as I am by the stories.
This class of films is the line dancing of the film world. Line dancing is dancing for people who can’t dance just like these are movies for people who can’t make movies.
Please don’t make me choke down another glass of Hallmark featured movie nectar.
Film is a stellar media for Christians to make use of. The problem is the sanitized, bleached white synthetic box of demands the Christian sub-culture has placed on the medium. It’s another form of “Testiments” or “Jesus-cise aerobics.”
I love film, too. Have you seen “Metropolis?”
I totally agree! My husband and I saw a pre-release screening of a Christian film and were asked for our feedback. After realizing that everyone else in the room LOVED the film, it felt as though we either 1. saw a different movie or 2. were being written off as “too wordly”.
As avid movie watchers, my husband and I have this discussion all the time. Hard to realize that at one time art was made to glorify God, and now anything that is marketed as “christian” is far under par than what the rest of the world is producing.
So true Kathy. Often times when you disagree with other Christians about a film, music, or other entertainment we are called “worldly” or “fleshly.” Ugh. We have to be free to disagree, discuss, and decide for ourselves.
You’d think with a God as big and inspiring as ours is, any art Christians produce, be it fine art, music, or in this case, movies would be amazing! Sadly, you are right and it’s not.
Kirk Cameron is a stand up guy, but I wince every time I see him in in a movie. Another thing I would like to see… Christians be honest in their reviews about the movies they are making. Case in point: Fireproof.
“That makes a FIREPROOF Movie Event a natural ministry tool to inspire and challenge the people of your church…and beyond.”
“Say I do All over again… The No. 1 Inspirational Film”
No.1 Inspirational film? Says who?
It was hard to sit through. Not due to the message, which was good, but production value and acting. Just because it’s Christian shouldn’t mean it has to be terrible.
While they are super cheesy, and the acting isn’t always great, I don’t agree with saying that the makers of these films are squandering or wasting the medium of film. Take for instance the creators of “Courageous” (which I’m sure in no way inspired this post ;). They may not be Oscar worthy actors or directors, but they are using what they have to glorify God. They may not have the most talented people, but that doesn’t mean that these movies aren’t still worth making. If they have touched even one person, Christian or non-Christian, then they were worth making. We don’t criticize Christian writers who write books for Christian people, what is wrong with a little cheese in a movie if it’s encouraging and uplifting for even just a small group of people. I know several men who have found much needed encouragement from this last film. I know at least a dozen people who watched “Fireproof” and found in it inspiration to fix their broken marriages. Now I am with you as a film lover, and a dreamer who would love to write great screenplays and see them turned into great Christian movies that would reach the non-Christian world, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But I think the goal of these filmmakers was more to encourage and empower Christians and not to make award winning films. Cheesy or not I applaud them for their hard work, and their willingness to make these movies even at the risk of being criticized and mocked for them. After all, if Brad Pitt & Steven Spielberg were willing to make a Christian movie then we would have seen it made; obviously it’s not a genre that people are hopping to be a part of. So, I’m thankful for those who are willing to do it. It’s a start. The beginning of Christian music was probably criticized in much the same way, and look how far it’s come in the last 20 years. The same will happen with film.
I agree that the “Christian” movies I’ve seen have not been great quality, and there have been scenes where the acting and story made me wince, for sure. However, I also know people who legitimately, non-ironically loved these movies and were moved by them. I know they’re not the only ones and I just can’t argue with that.
I had a conversation with a guy a few months ago that changed the way I think about this kind of stuff. He has worked in the Christian music world and Christian non profits for a couple decades now and I was asking him if being at big Christian events all the time makes him cynical at all. He said [paraphrased, as its been a few months and I don’t remember the exact wording], “You know, the older I get, the less cynical I get, actually. I used to scoff at things like Christian puppet shows, and then I found out that Karla Faye Tucker came to know Christ after seeing one. Is it something I would’ve put money into and done? No. Did Christ use it radically change someone’s life? Yes.”
That conversation helped break me of some of my own cynicism about the things Christians put out that I think are “lame”. Do I think Christian movies are lame compared to some other movies I’ve seen? Yup. But, I think if its something the creators really feel like God wants them to make, they should do it, whether its “Hollywood quality” or not.
I think the problem is that they are “Christian” movies, just like we have “Christian” books, music, bands, etc. Many of those things are cheesy too. The problem is we try to be too Christian, without letting our faith inform what we are trying to do.
It seems when Christian movies do deal with sin, it’s usually one of the “okay” sins… unforgiveness, not having faith in God, etc.
I see that the Christian film industry is very similar to the Christian music industry. Those willing to be honest with their art are far and few between. They favor putting something out that is acceptable to the mass Christian market instead of unleashing the creativity they have received from God.
Totally agree! O’Conner is phenomenal, but I doubt adaptations of her films would be hailed as especially Christian. The themes are there, but too subtle for most Christians.
Maybe the real problem is we’ve been taught to love bad art?
I’d say much of the real problem is we’ve been taught to love bad art, as long as somebody’s tagged Jesus’ name on to it.
Could this be considered taking the Lord’s name in vain?
Right on! Christians should be doing things with excellence because we represent Jesus Christ and nothing less.
“Rising Son” was a pretty awesome film. Granted it was a documentary, but it was still captivating and honest about real struggles and real redemption. I think it’s a step in the right direction.
If they want to make good Christian movies, they should make adapt Flannery O’Connor’s stories for the screen. Now those are some messed up characters!
Just read something that suggests that if a person speaks, sings, writes or paints about God in a boring way, it is probably sin. Apply that to Christian movies……
A *lot* of films deal with ‘Christian’ narrative types such as sacrifice, sacrifical love, choosing to do the right thing despite cost. In fact – I’d say a lot of Hollywood output would fall into the catergory of a ‘message film’ with only the barest of analysis!
I know of (sadly am not part of) small groups of Christians and non-Christians who discuss films from a Christian perspective.
For example: The Matrix, aside from the great effects, asks the question “Is it better to be a blissfully ignorant captive or an struggling and enbattled free person?” Surely a central theme in Christian discourse?! Lord of the Rings is all about the willingness of one person to make the ultimate sacrifice to save the entire world from evil.
In the UK we have far less ‘Christian Media’ and aside from the films you mention (and Sister Act, The Sound of Music etc) I don’t think I have ever seen a ‘Christian’ film. Maybe, if they are as bad as you say, Christians should instead concentrate on the narrative of existing films and how they can be understood from a Christian perspective.
I think I’m struggling with definitions here. What counts as a “Christian” film? One that explicitly names Jesus?
The Matrix trilogy (especially the first) has long been celebrated for the Christian imagery and symbolism it uses.
The Passion of the Christ, on the other hand, while visually arresting, isn’t actually a very good story. There’s no plot at all, no context to provide any explanation for the events on the screen. If you don’t already know the story, it doesn’t actually communicate much to you.
In that regard, there are tons of films out there with Christian themes. I’m not sure I know what an explicitly Christian film that’s not also a Message movie would look like.
I tend to agree…and some of those “Christian” movies are more “scare ’em to heaven” than plot-worthy. (Thief in the Night trilogy, I’m talking to you; those things would scare even the meekest saved teen.)
I have to say, though, that I was TOTALLY impressed with the Kendrick brothers’ “Facing the Giants.” Very cool movie. They’re the same guys who wrote “Courageous,” if I recall correctly.
“Facing the Giants” is a movie I could watch again and again. I loved that they used current Christian music to help score the film. I think it’s a movie that could speak to anyone, but it’s especially powerful when viewed by a Christian audience.
But that’s just me.
Currently in film school with a dream to do something about this. I hope it leads somewhere :)
So cool! My college roommate was a film major. Can’t wait to see how God uses you in the industry.
my husband and I talk about this topic very frequently…like last night.
My frustration is that many “Christian” filmmakers bypass the basic learning process of “how to write”, therefore they make a lot of rookie errors. Glaring. Obvious. But why strive to do better when the sub-culture of Christianity applauds what you’re already doing?
So well said and sadly, so right on.
Now that I think about it, “To Save a Life” and “Soul Surfer” were both good. Both have minor flaws, but I enjoyed both. “To Save a Life” hits close to home for me because I’ve thought about suicide a few times in my life.
I too have struggled with the same thing in the past. I plan on writing about it soon. Thanks for sharing here.
A decent “Christian” movie will not be made until someone or some company with a load of money thinks they will get a return on their investment. When people start consuming more of the kind of media you are talking about then this will start happening.
This is the reason that there is a “Christian” music genre. Instead of marketing music into a mainstream market with little chance of success you bow to the standards set by the consumer, in this case Christians who don’t want to hear about sex, drugs and definitely not cuss words.
Making a “Christian” movie that involved themes of sex (adultery, pre-marital, porn, etc.), drugs (alcoholism, addiction, experimentation), or violence would be the equivalent of a production company or sugar daddy throwing money into a black hole. Most of the mainstream media would reject the movie if the word Christian was anywhere near any of the marketing materials, and none of the Christian media would support it because it would be too “worldly.”
I believe that film is a great way to portray the love of God, I just don’t see it happening until it is more marketable. As long as Christianity isn’t marketable a “Christian movie” won’t be made (and I would fear for Christians when Jesus becomes marketable).
Btw, a movie has been made based on the book Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. It hasn’t been released yet and I haven’t seen it, but based on the book I would give it a shout to be what you all are waiting for.
I think film could be an incredible way to evangelize. Good film resonates in me for days, gets me thinking. Films are powerful. I am a stage actress, and I’ve done one “Christian” play and that’s it. The writing was awful. All of the other comments I’ve read below are valid as to why Christian movies are so lame. I think the root of it all is fear. Fear to be honest and to let go of the pride, the image of having it all together. After all, you gotta go through dirt and grime to be able to write or act it with any truth.
There’s also the fear of being surrounded by a largely godless community. The thing that we as Christian artists must remember is that WE are the lights in this world- don’t be afraid! Do find a community of believers who will encourage and support you. Jesus walked, talked, and ate with sinners. He wasn’t worried about getting “stained by the world”. He loved people.
Great thoughts! I think you are right, that yes, Christians very much try to look as though they “have it all together.” We are fearful of looking vulnerbale or weak to those outside of the church, which is so ironic considering it is our realness that often helps draw people to Christ.
Thanks for sharing and commenting!
I Google’d this topic hoping to find someone else who shared my views AND was willing to change things. It’s the same with other forms of – art, poetry, novels… Its like we feel that because we are selling Jesus we don’t need to put in any work. Luckily the music industry has their act together. Great article, I don’t see any reason why we should be so bad at film, has anyone even read Daniel? Or Acts? Those could be some HAPPENING adventure films! I hope you do open that film production company, I (and many others I’m sure) would be happy to contribute to such a venture for the glory of the Kingdom.
Agreed, Daniel and Acts would make some amazing movies, if done well. They’d probably have to be 3 part-ers though. And yeah, I’m still dreaming of that production company. I hope you’re still around to invest if the time ever does come.
Thanks for commenting and adding to the discussion.
2) Have you seen A Prairie Home Companion yet? Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin could elasiy, elasiy pass as sisters.Will have to think about the rest of it.
Nice discussion! What I don’t like about Christian movies is they are too inclusive. I mean they are made from a North American Christian viewpoint, to certain groups in the North American Christian lifestyle. They edit out the undesireables, (sinfulness & the people who live it, by choice or by default of not being Christian) That makes it hard to share with other people, or sad to say, enjoy. Mainstream movies succeed in delivering their messages because they speak to universal human desires & experiences. They don’t care what you believe in they just tell you their message. I think that’s why Jesus succeeded too. He used parables anyone could understand. It seems a sign of a good movie, even little kids will get it, and people who barely speak the language. I like when a movie gives me the feeling of possibilities, it opens up my mind because it suggests Hope. I don’t like when movies make me feel like I just can’t relate to what I’ve seen. I laugh thinking of the musicians who say stuff like I’m a musician who happens to be a Christian. Lol maybe writers should say the same, I wrote a movie, about life, and yes it includes Christian themes, but not necessarily a Christian movie.
I’m so glad about this discussion, maybe it’s time to be a little critical of what we say is Christian, that way we can get better at relating our experiences with God to each other and people will understand.
You should check out Of God’s and Men. It’s in French and it’s about monks in a town in Algeria. They care for the town with medicine and schooling, but the town is threatened by terrorists. So the monks must decide whether to leave to save their lives, or stay and continue to help out that town because of their love for Christ. I don’t know if the people involved making the film are Christian, but they don’t beat around the bush. They have a clearly defined story that is heart wrenching and portrays Christian values.
That is why this film is great and most Christian films suck, because they try to share the whole Gospel in a film, and the narrative structure of film (to be entertaining) does not lend itself toward that. Instead, filmmakers should focus on a Christian truth or theme and tell a story around that. Because lets face it, more than likely a film is not going to convert someone. It can, but most likely not. However, it can plant a seed that leads the viewers to Christ.
I’m a screenwriter and this is one of the ideas I had to wrestle with, how to write a Christian film, but still be entertaining. My website will be a place I talk more about this as I move forward in my writing and experiences. And if you’re curious I posted a creed on my website to help guide me in this.
Well that’s true for any genre of film. I thought passion of the Christ was amazing though so not all Christian movies suck.
If you’d like the opinion of a non-Christain…I think you mostly hit the nail on the head. The main problems I have with Christain movie are these:
1. Some of them can be patronizing to non-Christains. I’m going to use Fireproof as my example here because it’s a Christain movie that I particularly hated. The guy in the movie is a bad husband at first, and he’s a bad husband because he’s selfish. During the course of the movie he discovers how to be a good partner in his marriage by rediscovering Christain principles. Could this happen? Sure, and if it does and makes someones life and relationship better, I think that’s great!
However, there’s also an implication there that the two are inevitable consequences of each other. A non-Christain is less likely to be a good husband, because he’s more likely to be selfish, because he isn’t Christain!
That’s something you just aren’t going to sell to non-Christains because even if that message isn’t overt or specfically intended, it’s how it’ll be interpreted. Rather than an inspirational feeling from seeing a relatable portrayal of Christianity, it’ll seem more like an insulting one.
2. Some Christian movies are, frankly, about as deep as bath!
Again, back to Fireproof. The movie’s main relationship advice is ‘never leave your partner behind.’ A good message, but the examples they show aren’t about the complex reality of how much effort it takes to spend years and years of your life with the same person. They’re don’t spend all your time watching porn and ignoring your wife, and when your wife’s mother needs expensive medical treatment that insurance won’t cover, hoarding your money for a boat is a crummy thing to do. Are there husbands you actually do stuff like this? Unfortunately, yes, but to be honest is this movie really likely to wake a bunch of them up to the error of their ways? I very much doubt it. The type of husband who would be willing to work on his relationship probably wouldn’t need to be told those two things.
Same for the book that came of it The Love Dare. I read experpts from that, and didn’t really see anything horribly profound in it. Not that the ideas weren’t good ones. Most of them were.
I guess, and this may sound strange from a non-Christain, but I expected something more enlightened than the same things you’d find in any book of advice for newlyweds. Which really made me wonder if it was all just in the marketing. It’s based on an idea from a Christain movie, so it must be somehow more right for Christains.
If a Christain couple were to take the exact same ideas from a general book about marriage and apply them to their relationship, would that make them less Christain? The thought just doesn’t make sense to me!
I’ll temper my comments now by mentioning a recent Christain movie I did like: Soul Surfer.
In many ways it was also just another sports movie, but the main character’s Christain faith was a big part of her life and inspired her during her struggles. So it was there and obvious, without being overbearing.
“Good story-telling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it”
I agree with the post – I have the following thoughts
1. I don’t think people realise just how tough it is to make a decent movie. I’m not talking about special effects. I’m talking about snappy, minimalistic dialogue – captivating cinematography, fascinating characters – intriguing plots. Hollywood has forgotten more than most christian film-makers will ever know about what it takes to make a great movie. “Passion” and “Chariots” were products of the professional paradigm – not the evangelistic film-makers one
2. Some of the most provocative movies for me as a believer have come from, let’s face it, fairly Godless directors – David Fincher – Fight Club, Chris Nolan – Inception. But their messages, however roughly delivered – provoke immense reflection. But do I find these movies meaningful because I view them from the Christian worldview?
I totally agree too. Though it’s hard to compete with mega-million budgets.
Might have to try write a screenplay myself!
But I might of just found your third decent christian film… though it’s only from seeing the traile. Blue Like Jazz. Let’s hope it turns out half decent!
God doesn’t want us to make contrived “message movies” that lie about reality.
These films are of the devil, the master of lies. God is the God of truth.
These so called “Christian” films are simply commerce. All they do is keep
the ignorant, unsaved sheep unsaved. (Most people claiming to be Christian aren’t.)
The church is the body of Christ, not a building.. Not a “group” that you hang out
with socially and go to bad so-called “Christian” films with on Friday.
And you’re not supposed to be hysterical and weepy to “show how saved you are”.
This is evil and wicked and the exact same thing the Pharasies did.
Christ says not to grimace when you fast to get praise from other humans.
He also says to pray in SECRET – Not with fanfare in big church groups.
You know a tree by the fruit it bears. THAT is how you tell a real Christian.
These films are false and the people who go to them are lost.
Anyone who was moved by The Passion of The Christ needs to reevaluate
what being a Christian really means.
First off, the film is technically terrible. Bad soundtrack, non believable
characters that act like total bafoons – some scenes are almost Monty Python.
But the main complaints have to do with the story it’s self which claims to
be “the bible” but really has very little to do with the bible.
Christ’s life was not about being able to take the most physical suffering “for us”.
Jesus is depicted as needing to physically suffer beyond what was prophesied
and furthermore the idea that it was all simply about physical suffering.
The scene with Christ standing back up to “take more licks”‘ from the Roman
soldiers is so STUPID, BLASPHEMOUS, UNSCRIPTURAL… You name it.
Jesus depicted with glowing red demonic eyes.
CGI zombies biting and chasing Judas.
Androgenous satan carrying CGI baby.
3 PEOPLE WERE STRUCK BY LIGHTNING WHILE MAKING THIS FILM!
In a place lightning never strikes. You telling me God wanted this evil work?
I was so sad after I left the theater and knew that so many people were moved
by this film because it let me know how many are really lost and not saved
because POTC is blasphemous.
I think that’s not the case in some other peoples lives, Arafat had his very first encounter with Christ when he stuck at his home during the Israel army operation around his home, his was deeply moved by the Passion of the Christ. We use Christian movies to reach out to our community with a message of Christ. The interest off our community in Christian movies is growing. Movies like, FIREPROOF, GRACE CARD, COURAGEOUS, FACE THE GIANT
Great post and awesome replies!
I have a Christian and I love movies. Movies are stirring, many times they speak to the soul more deeply than music because it involves music, visuals, emotions…you’re IN the story.
Honestly, I can’t stand the acting in the Christian movie genre. Courageous was great, Facing the Giants. But let’s also look at Lord of The Rings by JRR Tolkien and the Chronicals of Narnia by CS Lewis. Tolkien and CS Lewis were STRONG Christians and the best of friends. Tolkien brought Lewis to Christ. They both loved fantasy and questioned how to use their love for Christ’s sake. So they each agreed that to use any art for the glory of God is a good thing and each set about writing their own individual pieces of fantasy with the intent on providing Biblical parallells in ways others can relate. Lord of the Rings and Narnia were SMASH hits globally.
The missing link is connecting a movie with Christian symbolism with CHRIST Himself. Our mission is to reach People for Christ, not just reach Christians to entertain and encourage them…Not entertain non-Christians with more fantasy and fiction. There needs to be a message of eternal and earthly hope. That even through these earthly struggles, there is One who is a great Comforter and Friend to those who give their life to Him. The Bible says that one day all the world will be filled with the knowledge of Christ. Revival? As author and #5 leadership expert says, “what we need in this country is a Refor-vival-sance. Reformation, revival, and renaissance”…which includes quality art!
Hope that makes sense. I’d like to hear your responses. Any comments or suggestions or things I missed?
Correction…I AM a Christian, not I have a Christian. Haha.
It’s true – the merest suggestion that a movie is “Christian” usually fills me with a deep desire to avoid watching it. Shame. It would be great to have some good quality movies that we could watch without having to worry about what images or ideas they are going to sow in our heads – but I don’t think we should be holding our breath. Instead, many Christians seem to take the line of only watching movies below a certain certificate – eg 18s are way out, U is good, 15s are to be avoided… Disney is okay, horror movies are not, etc.etc. I’m not sure this is particularly helpful – parts of the Bible (the end of Judges, for example) would almost certainly warrant an 18 certificate if you tried to film them, yet God seemed to think it was good for us to face those realities. Glorifying such violence is clearly bad, but sanitising everything can’t be the answer. And I think Disney has done a lot of harm over the years, since it creates a thoroughly appealing, yet utterly unrealistic, set of expectations which can leave us despising the comparatively mundane reality of the world God has created.
But hey, despite all that my favourite two movies are Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and The Terminator. Brilliant art, both of them.
On a slight tangent, for a bit of fun lately I’ve been thinking about how Christianity is usually portrayed on the silver screen – here’s the first part of my thinking: http://sonsofasaph.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/top-ten-christian-stereotypes-in-movie.html
Dead Man Walking is a really powerful film.
CHINA CRY… another intense not cheesy Christian movie
Really interesting entry, as I just found out that the Left Behind movies (well, at least one of them) will be getting a “mainstream makeover.” I used to think that the quality of Christian films, shows, plays and the like, were not so much bad as ‘not the same quality as hollywood’s’ because of how much money was being put into the project.
But I’ve seen movies, particularly independent, of course, done on very, very little that were fantastic. So I wonder now if maybe it all boils down to who is making it. Some seem to try to make them too tame with fears that going too far would fracture its relation to Christianity, but I think that quite the contrary would happen were certain things tried within reason.
I’m not saying that Christianity should be made worldly (though that depends on whether a person considers making Christian movies worldly in and of itself already). But, I do think it’s possible to create what could be considered a really good mainstream plot with Christian elements that showed a strong influence of God in a way that He works within our own lives. He could clearly be put first in a character’s life and be contrasted by lives that don’t have Him in them, in order to show the nuances of living, etc. but that could be done in many different ways, shapes and forms.
This was an interesting and thought-providing topic. I look forward to seeing how the Lord will continue to use people in this area. Thank you for sharing :)
Ya i know what you mean, but a good christian movie that’s not lame at all and still inspiring is “Courageous”.
I am working on a screenplay currently trying to avoid all of the things that make quite a few Christian movies hokey, shall we say. I think Pureflix has done some ok movies but needed a little more work on the acting.
I think that our message has to be more subtle, the acting compelling and the videography first-rate. With such interesting history in the Bible we have some really good stories to begin with. All we have to do is distill them, put in the proper structure and then don’t skimp on production we should have some good movies.
Yet, to be fair, it is extremely difficult to get Christian-themed movies distributed. I was reading recently that October Baby, a very well done pro-life film, took two years by its producer to get it in theaters.
You ask anyone–Christians included–what their top 5 favourite movies of all time are, I guarantee that 99.999% of the titles mentioned are non-Christian, “secular” and/or Hollywood films (I actually believe it’s 100% but I want to be charitable in leaving some leeway for any possible exceptions). In terms of ingenuity, cultural impact and memorable performances, “Christian” films just aren’t on the same level.
To me, “Christian” is just a label to categorize a specific genre to appeal to a certain type of consumer. It’s become like a ghetto within the film industry–restrictive, stifling and stigmatized. A film like “The Godfather”, for example, wasn’t made just for Italians and those connected to organized crime. It had a great storyline combined with great performances and memorable scenes which have left deep impressions on audiences everywhere. It was transcendent of its time and place. And it was violent. It is now considered a classic among multiple generations.
For mainstream filmmakers, there is no taboo subject matter or odd approach to storytelling; “the sky is the limit” is their motto. Not so for “Christian” films. The creative process is run like a shareholders meeting where every move must be approved and benefit the sensitivities of an isolationist Christian culture (predominantly American, I’ll point out). The result is the propagation of very bland, “safe” movies that are big on having a “message” but lack creative muscle. Here’s another question: which Christian film can you recall for its unique camera angles, its non-linear time frame or by its original soundtrack alone? Honestly, I can’t think of any. All of those factors I mentioned are as vital to the film experience as the script or acting. Why are “Christian” films so devoid of colour and edge? Why can’t the gospel co-exist with the pushing of artistic boundaries?
The sad thing I realize is that some secular films have done a better job of containing Christian themes without needing to be so overt about it (e.g. faith, redemption, forgiveness, hope, etc.). Viewers are allowed to draw their own conclusions and, in the process, wrestle with some weighty issues. Real conversation starters. Outside of the Christian community, Christian filmmakers aren’t leaders in their field. I’m not saying they aren’t talented but that their talent is extremely underused. Like their musical counterparts, they tend to follow standards that others have set instead of creating them. This is depressing.