Vital Signs

Christianity and the Movies

Several things have worked against the development of serious Christian films in the United States.  From its beginnings, the American film industry has included some, but very few, Christian filmmakers.  By and large, it has been determinedly secular; and, because of the nature of the business, the need for a truly enormous worldwide audience to turn a profit, American filmmakers have felt it necessary to present a secular point of view, even when touching on religious subjects or themes.  There are some famous Hollywood Christian epics, of course, from the earliest days, extravaganzas such as Ben Hur, The Sign of the Cross, The Greatest Story Ever Told, etc.  These have almost nothing in common with the two films I wish to consider here.  The standard Hollywood versions (no matter how elegantly produced or visually interesting) are, in a narrative sense, two-dimensional, literal-minded versions of biblical stories or ancient myth and history, in many ways fundamentally at odds with Christian storytelling and implications.  They are the letter and not the spirit.  They are spectacle with no real meaning beyond the surface excitement.  They are also very expensive movies.  At their best, they are simply secular salutes to the Christian Faith.  Secular filmmakers, addressing a multicultural and essentially secular audience, tend to reflect the assumptions, including...

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