The “Most Christian” Movie of the Year?

The “Most Christian” Movie of the Year? January 9, 2015

selma2To all who claim that film critics rejected Left Behind and God’s Not Dead and Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas because of their hatred for Christianity… I give you Selma.

To all who get excited at statements like “This was a great year for Christian movies!” and “The Christian movie industry is on the rise!” … I give you Selma.

Observe…

In Selma — and I’m pretty sure about this — there is more gospel quoted, more gospel celebrated, more gospel embraced and openly lived out than in any so-called “Christian movie” released in 2014 (except the one that was, you know, yet another sexy white Jesus movie).

There is far, far more gospel in this film than there is in Unbroken.

There’s even more gospel in Selma than there is in Chariots of Fire… the movie about a white, Olympic-medal-winning Christian that sent white, Protestant congregations rushing to theaters and is still revered as a pinnacle of moviemaking art by many Christians.

And note: Due to the excellence of the artistry, the depiction of faith instead of the advertising of faith, the nuance with which the characters are portrayed, and the lack of any smug condescension toward anybody… the film is taken seriously and is highly praised.

Selma has a 98% “fresh” rating at Rotten Tomatoes, for what it’s worth. But then, those percentages aren’t worth much. It’s the reviews themselves that will tell you just how enthusiastic film reviewers across America are about this movie.

We do not need to build a Christian movie industry.

We do not need so-called “Christian movies.”

We just need to make beautiful, truthful art… with humility and wisdom and excellence.

Jesus didn’t tell Christian parables. He told unforgettable stories.

And the truth doesn’t need to be defended. It is already victorious, by virtue of it being, well… the truth.

P.S.

Paul Harrill’s film Something, Anything, which just opened in New York, is an artful, nuanced, beautiful motion picture. It features a troubled young woman who turns to the Bible for consolation, and actually visits the Gethsemani monastery in her search for hope. It’s getting rave reviews. Let’s see if religious press voices pay attention to this film, or notice the difference in its reviews.


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6 responses to “The “Most Christian” Movie of the Year?”

  1. Thank you for this post.

    For the last few months I have been asking myself the question “Should there be a Christian movie industry?” With the movie Selma, the answer is “No.”

    It doesn’t help the “Christian movie industry” (CMI) that those who run it seem to be living in an echo chamber. They react with un-Christian anger when criticized. I’ve been shouted down and blocked from CMI forums for voicing an opinion that was different from an enthusiastic “Amen!”

    The CMI is rotten to the core, which is funny considering that people in the CMI think Hollywood is rotten to the core.

    • “The CMI is rotten to the core…” That’s kind of a weird statement seeing that the so-called CMI is in no way an organization, institution or even united group. There is no one “running the CMI”. The state (past, present, future) of films being made by Christians has been in flux for 50 years and there is no unified voice. There are just as many Christian filmmakers who would say “amen” to this article than who wouldn’t… maybe more. I’ve been saying for years that there is no conspiracy against Christianity by “Hollywood” because there is no single entity known as “Hollywood”. It interesting that now people are referring to the “Christian Movie Industry” in that same improper way.

      • I completely agree, Brad. I have plenty of friends working on films that would be categorized as “Christian movies,” and they’re as frustrated by the mediocrity that has been produced under that label as I am. Hollywood, Christians, Leftists, Right-wingers… you name it: The label represents a huge spectrum of people, many of whom have good intentions, and many of whom care about excellence and beauty and truth. Humankind is, in a manner of speaking, rotten to the core, and one of the ways we demonstrate that is by pointing fingers at other people saying “You’re rotten to the core.” We’re all beyond help of redemption but for the grace of the one who made us in his image and who is always working to restore that image, whatever our vocation, or our community, or our affiliation.

        • I didn’t mean to imply that some people are “rotten to the core” and others aren’t. I agree that we all are: We’re all imperfect.

          I just found it ironic that people who, as far as I can tell, have no qualms about there being such a thing as a “Christian movie industry,” and who bill themselves as being a “safe” and “family-friendly” alternative to Hollywood, would act so un-Christian when offered constructive criticism.

          I was yelled at on LifesiteNews, called a “pro-choice troll,” for pointing out that critics who didn’t like “The Giver” didn’t dislike it because it was a critique of the culture of death, but because they just thought it was a bad movie, period. A statement which every review I had read on rottentomatoes.com proved.

          (The reason I struggled with the question of “Is there such a thing as a Christian movie industry” is that some Christians — one’s at PluggedIn, for example — don’t seem to mind the label “Christian movie,” despite is negative connotations.)

      • Thank you for your comment.

        When I said “Christian Movie Industry,” I was referring to a way of thinking — “Christian Movie Industry” being a term to describe movies made by Christians, for Christians, usually being of low-quality (by the standards of non-Christian movies) and preachy to boot — and was not referring to an actual entity called the “Christian Movie Industry.”

        There are a number of Christians who, as far as I can tell, do believe that such a thing as the CMI exists. (The makers of the movie “God’s Not Dead” come to mind. They believe in an industry where movies are made by Christians, for Christian consumption.)

        I had wrestled with the question of “Is there such a thing as the CMI?” before I came to the conclusion that any movie that is good, true, and beautiful can be called a “Christian movie,” and that Christians don’t have to wall themselves up inside their echo chambers but can instead look for, appreciate, and participate in the movies being made by filmmakers who don’t share their faith.

        Does that clear everything up?

        • Sure Tim. Thanks for the clarification. It was confusing when you referred to “those who run it”, inferring some kind of structure in my flawed mind :) Believe me when I say there is no consensus in the Christian film world. I was in leadership of a faith-based film group for 16 years (still part of group). We used to laugh that our group was “too Christian” for some and “not Christian enough” for others. I’d also say that, in the past 30 years, I’ve come to see that hundreds of movies (probably thousands) come out every year, made by non-Christians, which are very low quality, and even preachy in their own way. The “bad quality” label is not exclusive to Christian filmmakers. Even so, we’ve tried to champion the message that any filmmaker who professes to follow Jesus needs to strive to become great artists and story tellers. Too many are just preachers who are “using” film as a vehicle, and they are not willing to put in the time, effort, money and passion to become outstanding filmmakers.