Ralph Winter: Producer of Blockbuster movies. “Gladiator” fan. Comic-book movie expert. Christian.

“Hollywood.”

In the media… especially in the Christian media… the word “Hollywood” gets thrown around a lot.

“Hollywood is anti-Christian. It is always producing projects that lampoon, criticize, and ridicule Christians.”

“We need to clean up Hollywood.”

“Christians should not have anything to do with what comes out of Hollywood.”

Meanwhile, in the middle of Hollywood, you’ll find Christians are working hard to create good films, to deliver excellent performances, to write superlative scripts. And they’re not necessarily stuffing the gospel message into their stories. They’re just trying to do what they do with excellence.

One of those guys is Ralph Winter.

Last year, on assignment for Christianity Today, I interviewed Mr. Winter about his work, which has included playing a part in films like Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, X-Men and X-Men 2: X-Men United, and Fantastic Four.

Ralph is working on a wide variety of projects within Hollywood, some of them deliberately crafted to provide a “Christian message,” some of them crafted to be merely entertaining. Whether or not you’re a fan of his films. I suspect that you’ll find his perspective challenging.

I’m learning a lot from folks like Ralph, and I share some of those lessons that I’ve learned in Through a Screen Darkly. I’m learning not to use the word “Hollywood” lightly, or to say it with a sneer. There are good people working in Hollywood. There is good work coming from Hollywood. There is even rich, meaningful, beautiful work coming from people who don’t know the source of their talent, or the profundity of their stories.

So take a deep breath before you use the word “Hollywood.” Remember… Ralph Winter is included in that population. It’s a community, not an entity single-mindedly working to crush the church.

Director Scott Derrickson is a Hollywood player as well. He’s the director of the #1 box office hit The Exorcism of Emily Rose, a thoughtful filmmaker and a Christian. Derrickson shares his perspective on one of his favorite films, one of his favorite filmmakers, and some thoughts on the potential of horror movies to reveal the glory of God, in Through a Screen Darkly.

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