Monday, August 28, 2006

WHY DO HEATHENS MAKE THE BEST CHRISTIAN FILMS?

I came across this interesting post on Godspy on "Why do Heathens Make the Best Christian Films?"

After reviewing on my favourite films - Places of the Heart, Tom Parham, the author of the article writes:
Writer/director Robert Benton is not an evangelical Christian. Yet, his film incorporates "Christian themes" with more subtlety, artistry, and depth than the majority of films being made by professed Christians. It is not the only one. In fact, most films that successfully incorporate religious themes are made by nonreligious people.

Here are some of the better films with Christian messages or themes from the past few decades:
Chariots of Fire (1981)
Tender Mercies (1983)
Places in the Heart (1984)
Hoosiers (1986)
The Mission (1986)
Grand Canyon (1992)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Dead Man Walking (1996)
The Apostle (1998)
The Prince of Egypt (1998)
The Iron Giant (1999)
Magnolia (2000)
Signs (2002)
Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie (2002)
About Schmidt (2002)
Changing Lanes (2002)
In America (2002)
Bruce Almighty (2003)
The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003)
The Passion of the Christ (2004)

All of these films were critically acclaimed and/or box office hits. But with the exception of Jonah, Bruce Almighty, and The Passion, none were made by Christian filmmakers. Christians, however, did make these films:
Gospa (1995)
Entertaining Angels (1996)
The Omega Code (1999)
The Joyriders (1999)
Left Behind.. The Movie (2000)
Carman: The Champion (2001)
Megiddo: The Omega Code 2 (2001)
Mercy Streets (2001)
To End All Wars (2001)
Hometown Legend (2002)
Joshua (2002)
Left Behind II:' Tribulation Force (2002)
Luther (2003)
Finding Home (2003)
Therese (2004)

Overall, these films are unwatchable. There are only a handful of good scenes among them. None had success with critics or at the box office. (What does it say about Christian filmmakers that one of their best-received movies features computer-generated vegetables who sing and dance?)

If Christians want to make successful films that incorporate their worldview, why not learn from those who are already doing it-non-Christians. So let's ask: why are the best Christian films being made by secular filmmakers?

Though Places in the Heart is a metaphor for the kingdom of heaven, nowhere is this notion communicated overtly. It is suggested through the film's system of metaphors and reinforced by its enigmatic ending. This is yet another reason non-Christians make the best Christian films: they understand that cinema is an art form of symbol and metaphor.
Jesus began many of his parables with the phrase, "The kingdom of God is like..." (He used this phrase 12x in the Gospel of Matthew alone.) Jesus's parables allowed his audience to understand heavenly principles in earthly terms. He would even respond to questions with parables — instead of stating the answer outright, he would allow his audience to make the connections themselves. Jesus also knew that the things of heaven are too large to be fully grasped by the human mind. They are mysteries, in the classic sense of the word, and can only be hinted at through symbols and metaphors.

Christian filmmakers seem to dislike mystery. Rather than using Jesus's construct, "The kingdom of God is like..." their films often proclaim, "The kingdom of God is." Nothing is left to the imagination. Audiences are not allowed to make their own connections; they are told what to think. Does this have anything to do with rise of fundamentalism / neo-fundamentalism?

Secular filmmakers tend to observe life more objectively than Christians. They see the world the way it really is, warts and all. Christian filmmakers, on the other hand, tend to see the world the way they want it to be. Ignoring life's complexities, they paint a simplistic, unrealistic portrait of the world.
Check out the article it's worth reading

2 comments:

nadine said...

Only Christian filmmakers know that Jesus really had blue eyes and a British accent. And that alter calls are the most climactic moments you can put in film. And that metaphors aren't enough anymore. The parables need explanations.

pastor mike said...

I think this is one of those marks between the modern world [which doesn't like metaphors and unexplained parables] and the post-modern world [which is quite comfortable with metaphors, parables, paradox and even conflicting ideas & concepts].

The problem right now, is we try to remake Jesus into a modern Jesus or a post-modern Jesus - when he simply wants to be Jesus.