The trailer for The Shack was released at the beginning of the month and it actually looks good. So I thought I’d point out the faith-based movies that I’ve seen that in my opinion are actually good. Generally, I hate Christian movies, for the most part, I find them to be poorly directed, awfully acted and the screenplay to be utterly horrendous. To be fair the same could be said about a lot of Bollywood and Nollywood movies, as well as quite a fair number of Hollywood films. The other thing that can be off-putting is the way certain (but not all) Christians rally around the movies and seem to think it’s a Christians duty to support the movies. Some can get angry with anyone who criticises them and brand them as God haters. But the fact is a critique of a film may not be one attacking a theological viewpoint, it just might be an expression of a dislike for a film. Anyway here’s the movies that I’ve seen that come under the label of a being a Christian movie that I thought were worth my time and money.
The Passion of the Christ
Directed: Mel Gibson
Staring: Jim Caviezel, Maia Morgenstern, Monica Bellucci
Ok, I know there was a lot of hype about this when this first came out but I really do think it is excellent. Not only do I think that this is the best ‘Christian movie’ I’ve seen, I think it’s the best movie ever made period. On an artistic level, the film was life changing for me and turned me into a bit of a movie snob. The realism and authenticity of this work of art puts all other Biblical films (except Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie) to shame. Mel Gibson raised the bar by making this and unfortunately, not a single adaptation of a Bible story has even come close since.
Woman Thou Art Loosed
Director: Michael Schultz
Staring: Kimberly Elise, Loretta Devine, Clifton Powell
Long before Spotlight brought the scandal of the abuse to the big screen, a gritty, independent movie shown a light on abuse in the African-American Pentecostal church. Woman Thou Art Loosed shows how sexual abuse can affect a person from childhood to adulthood. It’s not a film one will enjoy but it’s worth seeing, as it superbly captures the pain and anger of an abuse victim. It’s inspired by the self-help by Bishop TD Jakes (who also appears in the film), but that shouldn’t put anyone off from seeing it. I’m not in agreement with many of the theological views of Jakes, but that doesn’t stop me from appreciating this movie.
Not Easily Broken
Director: Bill Duke
Staring: Morris Chestnut, Taraji P. Henson, Kevin Hart
Another film that’s taken from a book written by Bishop TD Jakes. When I first saw the trailer of this I was a bit disappointed for it look like a made-for-TV movie, but I still decided to see it and was surprised. A well-made drama that presents a modern marriage that is going through the pressures of careers and work, interfering Mother-in-laws and the lure of an extra-marital affair. I read one review saying that the movie was preachy but I didn’t see that at all. I found it to be a realistic portrayal of a husband and wife trying to make a marriage work.
The Cross and The Switchblade
Director: Don Murray
Staring: Pat Boone, Erik Estrada, Jacqueline Giroux
The true story of a young Pastor reaching out to gangs in New Yorks. It doesn’t shy away from the violence and drug addiction that is ever present in the life of a gangster, plus shows the courage and compassion of a Pastor.
Director: Michael Apted
Staring: Ioan Gruffudd, Romola Garai, Benedict Cumberbatch
The story of the English politician, William Wilberforce, struggle to eradicate the slave trade. While there’s quite a number of historical inaccuracies it still brings to life the man and the work the politician did. With a fantastic British cast, beautifully shot and wonderfully directed this film is worth a spot on this list.
Chariots of Fire
Director: Hugh Hudson
Staring: Ian Charleson, Ben Cross, Ian Holm
Everyone probably knows the story of this film. A Christian and Jew compete in the 1924 Olympics, and the Christian refuses to run his race on a Sunday. Like Amazing Grace, certain scenes are fictional, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is an inspirational movie to watch. It has everything going for it, plus has an unforgettable soundtrack.
Blue Like Jazz
Director: Steve Taylor
Starting: Marshall Allman, Clair Holt, Tania Raymonde
Based on Donald Miller’s memoir of the same name, this film tells the story of a young man losing and regaining his faith at a liberal art college. What I love about this movie is that it is interested in telling a story, sure it has a message (all movies do) but it wants to tell a story rather than preach at anyone. I love how it treats the characters, while in most Christian movies non-believers humanity is stripped away from them, this motion picture refuses to do such a thing. The scene of Donald’s lesbian friend crying on his shoulder because she had been rejected by another woman, is a perfect example of the films fair portrayal of those who aren’t Christians. I just think it’s awful that the likes of God’s Not Dead got a cinema release here, yet Blue Like Jazz didn’t even get a DVD release here in the UK.
Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie
Directors: Mike Nawrocki & Phil Vischer
Staring: Phil Vischer, Mike Nawrocki, Tim Hodge
In this VeggieTales version of the Biblical story of Jonah, Big Ideas do what they do best. Humour, amusing song and imagination are present as they bring a unique way to tell this story. I particularly found that the people of Nineveh slapping each other with fish to be rather amusing.
So there you have it, I can honestly say there are only 8 Christian movies that are good. If I were feeling generous I may have recommended The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964), The Prince of Egypt (1998), Faith Like Potatoes (2006) and The Second Chance (2006). But I’m not so I won’t. Don’t get me wrong though they’re a lot better made compared the majority of movies that are classified as Christian, but there not good enough to join the list above. As I wrote earlier The Passion of the Christ turned me into a bit of a movie snob, so I get turned off of a movie if the original language isn’t spoken. So since the Biblical movies mentioned (in this paragraph) are in English and Italian so I can’t put them on the list. I feel it’s ok to have the VeggieTales movie because of the way the film is set up to be some sort of play. I do think it’s a shame that Christian movies can be so awful, but we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.
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