Is George Lucas responsible for Christian film criticism?

Here’s a very interesting paragraph from Jeffrey Overstreet’s ‘Film Forum‘ at CT Movies today, which links to my review, among others, of the new Star Wars film:

Could it be that George Lucas is somewhat responsible for the current surge in Christian media film coverage? A decade ago, there weren’t many Christian press film critics writing regularly. Now they’re everywhere. A colleague of mine speculated that, since many of this new crowd of Christian critics are in a similar age range, it’s possible that Star Wars had something to do with our choice of subject. After all, the trilogy arrived while many of us were young and impressionable. The saga’s tendency to provoke conversations about spirituality and the nature of “the Force” inspired many of us to begin engaging with film in a whole new way.

I think Jeff might be referring to a comment I made when I filled in for him last September, in the ‘Film Forum’ that followed the release of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow:

Christian movie critics, many of whom honed their faith-based appreciation of film on earlier Saturday-matinee revivals such as Star Wars and the Indiana Jones films, have generally welcomed Sky Captain as a fun return to the innocent entertainment of a bygone age.

At any rate, I remember talking to Jeff about this point briefly after I wrote that. And I have very fond memories of going to see Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) with my Sunday School class when I was 11 years old, and hearing Indiana Jones say to the men from the CIA, “Didn’t any of you guys ever go to Sunday School?”

Yessirree, for all the griping I and others might do about Lucas’s latest ventures, it must be said that he played a very significant role in laying the groundwork for Christian film criticism today. So, a debt of gratitude is definitely owed there, I think.

I would also add that, in addition to getting us to think about film’s spiritual implications, Star Wars also provided a fascinating window into movie history. As a boy, I first heard of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, World War II flicks like The Dam Busters (from which Star Wars blatantly rips off a bit of dialogue), and the films of Akira Kurosawa because they were all cited as influences on Lucas’s film. C-3PO and R2-D2 were compared to Laurel and Hardy, the heroes were compared to Dorothy’s companions in The Wizard of Oz, and Princess Leia was even played by the daughter of Debbie Reynolds, who I would soon encounter in Singin’ in the Rain! And all those made-for-TV documentaries about the film’s special effects made a point of looking at classic films like King Kong and others that stoked my interest in film history.

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his film column, which won multiple awards from the Evangelical Press Association, the Canadian Church Press and the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) and Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005).

  • http://www.keeganfilms.blogspot.com Zack Parks

    Hi, my name is Art Parks. I myself am a Christian and would someday love to meet George Lucas, my filmmaking hero. I was just looking at some sites saying George Lucas is some ographic freak who tyrannies against America. Forgive me for being frank, BUT BULL! George Lucas is a great man. I have some minor doubts if Lucas is a Christian or not but he hasn’t shown any kind of non-Christian deeds that I have heard of.

  • Pingback: Indiana Jones and the Deadly Blather / Notes on the devolution of a franchise.


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