Saturday, October 17, 2015

Christian Films and "Christian" Films

Earlier today I saw a post where a friend of mine was looking for Christian movies on Netflix streaming.  I can't find it now, but I figured I'd answer it anyway.

The first thing that I think it important to note is that most films that are named "Christian" are often not very much so, or they hold to a very narrow idea of what "Christian" means. Because of this, most of the time the acting in "Christian" films are often the worst, although the production value is getting better. Fireproof was the best non-sports "Christian" film I've seen. The rest wasn't worth my time. Another decent one I saw is Cry From the Mountain, from Billy Graham's World Wide Pictures. Both are, at best, mediocre. Neither of which, of course, is on Netflix instant.
 
A "Christian" film is a movie that expresses the carefully constructed doctrine and morality of the American evangelical community.  It often promotes family and usually has an evangelistic message of some sort within it.  The latest of these is a film called War Room.  They are often promoted by churches, and some churches even have special showings for their members.  Frankly, like "Christian" music, it is a business model.

When I call something "Christian", I would like to think it reflects the tradition of 2000 years, especially the values of Jesus, like loving your enemy or forgiveness or helping the needy.  Family is okay, but Jesus also said "If you do not hate your mother and father and wife and children... you cannot be my disciple."  I'm not saying that Jesus actually meant to hate people (he didn't), but he was certainly saying that "family values" isn't the center of all that is good.  And I don't think that the evangelical church's version of Calvin-lite really expresses the values of Christianity for the majority of it's run.

Still, there are thousands of great, truly Christian films that don't fall under that American production label. So here is a list of great films that reflect the values of Jesus, and make powerful statements AND are great films. That also happen to be on Netflix Instant.  Here are a few:

Ida-- A woman about to take her monastic vows finds out that her family was killed as Jews in the Holocaust.

The Kid with a Bike-- I think the Dardanne Brothers are the greatest producers of Christian films in the world right now. This one is about a single woman who takes in a troubled kid.

Together-- Okay, this isn't a Christian film, but it is a great movie about living in community, Christian or otherwise

After the Wedding-- A man who dedicates himself to the poor is called home for a wedding, and he is given an offer he cannot refuse.

The Selfish Giant-- A powerful movie about what it takes to bring redemption.

Short Term 12-- A look at a private school full of special needs kids. Much better than it sounds. Really, really good.

The Overnighters-- A documentary about a pastor who lets people sleep overnight at his church.
These are among my favorite films of all time. So if you don't like them, blame me.


I'll take some time to cover some other Christian and spiritual films in the future.



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