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.