This morning I read a great interview featuring author, professor, and screenplay writer Craig Detweiler, which was conducted by Relevant Magazine. The interview focused on the topic of Faith & Film and how Christians should engage and respond to secular entertainment. Craig’s views are so close to my own that I felt it would be a great idea to share his thoughts with you. I have posted the response to only 1 of the 8 questions Relevant asked Craig. I have posted a link to the rest of the article and would encourage you all to read it.
What would you say to Christians who will stay away from a movie simply because there might be some darker, unsavory themes, such as violence, sexual content, etc.?
I think they’re missing the point of the film. Maybe they’re missing the whole Bible. The Bible is a book about sinners in need of redemption. It’s about a society that doesn’t work—the things we do to each other, and our need for restoration and hope.
The second theme I found were films about community, particularly communities in crisis, like Crash, Mystic River or Million Dollar Baby—films that had these messy, epic issues. Hotel Rwanda—should we care about those in Africa? I thought about it in terms of the Bible—where did we get that question? Well, that’s the oldest question in the Bible, where God says to Cain, “Where is your brother?” What does Cain say? “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The answer, according to God, is, “Yes, you are.” The oldest question in the Bible is about learning to empathize with others, caring for others, intervening in other people’s lives. A film like American Beauty, I think, is presenting both the tragedy of the human condition and the possibility of a benevolent force—like it says in the film, with the plastic bag blowing in the wind. It gives us hope. It tells us there’s a reason why we should live, why we should care, why we should risk and why we should love. It’s a very hopeful film wrapped in a very dark package, and that’s the whole point of the book Into the Dark. You’ve got to go into the dark to come out on the other side and have that hard-earned hope, the R-rated truth that emerges at the end of a daunting journey.
The third group of films I found over and over were fantasy films. On the same list as all of these dark films, there are Pixar films that look relentlessly bright. People just love these movies about friendship, companionship and love. WALL-E is already in the top 10 list of all time. In some ways you could say it’s a dark film about Earth and how we’ve destroyed the planet, but in the midst of that, there’s a flower that’s still blooming. I see the next generation as understanding the darkness of our situation, but still being drawn to these hopeful stories, whether it’s a Pixar film or a big epic like Lord of the Rings.