Now Featured in the Patheos Book Club
Movies Are Prayers: How Films Voice Our Deepest Longings
by Josh Larsen
Josh Larsen, co-host of the WBEZ/NPR podcast Filmspotting, brings his cinematic expertise to a new book with InterVarsity Press titled Movies Are Prayers. In his role with Filmspotting and as editor of Think Christian, a digital magazine on faith and culture, Larsen has influenced the minds of moviegoers on the applicability of stories to real life, spirituality, and faith for years.
"Films and faith have been intertwined in my head since childhood," Larsen said. "As a practicing film critic, I hope to encourage other Christians in a nuanced, aesthetically focused, and theologically rooted exploration of the art of cinema."
Movies Are Prayers explores how modes of prayer—praise, confession, lament—are modeled by all types of films. In this fashion, the book illuminates the richness of both cinema and prayer.
"Josh's cinematic knowledge is astounding, as regular listeners to his popular Filmspotting podcast well know," said Helen Lee, marketing director for IVP. "In his forthcoming book he will combine his insights on film and faith in a unique way, helping readers to see movies as representations of different kinds of prayers to God. Whether you are a serious cinephile or just someone who appreciates quality film, you will be captivated by what Josh has to offer in this book."
Some of the films Larsen covers include: Children of Men, The Tree of Life, Casablanca, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Wizard of Oz, The Dark Knight, 12 Years a Slave, Fight Club, Taxi Driver, Toy Story, Do the Right Thing, Where the Wild Things Are, Rocky, The Master, Amélie, The Muppets, and many others.
"When Spike Lee exhales, we get Do the Right Thing," Larsen writes. "When Roman Polanski and Robert Towne and Jack Nicholson exhale together, we get Chinatown. When the Beatles exhale and Richard Lester is there to capture it, we get A Hard Day's Night. Each of these films, in their own distinct way, offer a response to the two great existential questions that we ask of God almost every day: What do I make of this place? Why am I here? Chinatown answers with a lament. A Hard Day's Night rejoices. Do the Right Thing seethes, then unexpectedly reaches for reconciliation. Each offers a prayer."