Sunday, January 07, 2007

"Christian Moviegoers Required Viewing List" (1997)

Digging around to see if I'd written a review of P.D. James' novel Children Of Men back when I used to write regularly for Christian Info (now called BC Christian News), I found a column from November or December 1997 that included the seeds of the book I'm now working on, and this blog, and all sorts of other trouble. Kind of fun...

Thinking back to Trip To Bountiful had me contemplating a Christian Moviegoers Required Viewing List. Now, I'm not saying that these are the twelve best movies ever made, or the twelve "most Christian movies" ever made - how does a movie become a Christian, anyhow? But if you want to really be a part of those watercooler discussions after church on Sunday - provided your church even HAS a watercooler - check these ones out;

Tender Mercies (1983) My favourite film. Extremely understated story of an alcoholic country singer struggling to build a new life. Horton Foote screenplay.

Trip To Bountiful (1985) Beautiful, beautiful film about a woman nearing the end of her life who resolves to see her childhood home one final time. Geraldine Page's performance in that role was one of the great performances I have seen, and Horton Foote's script a masterpiece of understatement and insight into the human heart.

Wings Of Desire (1988) Artful German film about an angel who yearns to become human, made well before the recent pre-millenial angel explosion. Don't go looking for orthodox angelology (or theology) here, but it certainly is high on many Christians' favourite film lists.

The Mission (1986) Deeply moving story of conscience and religious persecution in the 18th century Brazilian jungle.

Chariots Of Fire (1981) The first commercial film I remember seeing with an authentic, evangelical protagonist - the novelty of that fact alone made it required viewing for a generation of Christians. And what artist can forget Eric Liddell's words to his sister, concerned that his Olympic running was interfering with a call to the mission field: "God made me for China. But He also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure."

Godspell (1973) Very much of its time, but if you can get past that, a wonderful re-setting of the gospel story.

The Hiding Place (1975) Corrie Ten Boom's story of Christians protecting Jews in World War Two Holland. Stars Jeannette Clift George, who went on to found A.D. Players in Houston, one of the first professional resident Christian theatres.‘

The Jesus Movie (1979) Produced by The Genesis Project, used widely in evangelism. Some say it's blandly literal, some are
deeply affected.

Jesus Of Montreal (1989) A remarkable Canadian film which intrigued but did not move me - maybe I hadn't been getting enough sleep. A group of actors are commissioned to create a modern "Mystery Play" (a life of Christ, not a whodunnit). The fingerprints of some of the more annoying 20th century liberal theologians drove me a bit nuts, but that didn't detract from the heart of the movie, which seems to me to have been very much in the right place.

Saving Grace (1986) A little-known, unpretentious gem of a movie about a drop-out Pope.

Shadowlands (1985) Anthony Hopkins is stunning as CS Lewis.

Spitfire Grill (1996) Small-town redemption.

Ten Commandments (1956) Cecil B. DeMille does the Old Testament: it's big, it's dramatic, it's long and it's Hollywood.

Babette's Feast (1987) This Rorschach of a film is seen as deeply affirming of Christianity by believers, and as a critique of religion by the non-religious. Talk about having your cake and eating it too...


Then I found this, the beginning of another list that was to have formed something of a follow-up to my first list. I didn't finish the list, nor was it published...

(Ten) Controversial Christian Movies
Bad Lieutenant
Hail Mary
Last Temptation Of Christ
When Night Is Falling (Patricia Rozema)

1 comment:

chrisd said...

I loved Babette's Feast. I am a Christian and found it very affirming. Your book sounds interesting but a lot of research and work I'm sure.

God bless and regards-