Honestly, I want to do more with this blog than take Christians to task for their work in the arts. But since this is my blog, and I’m going to write about things that interest me, issues regarding my faith are bound to come up.
I have always loved movies. I was raised to watch movies critically. Yes, my dad is one of those people who points out when the hero is using the wrong type of gun. If someone on screen goes, “Fire at will,” someone in my family will respond, “Which one’s Will?”
I love watching well-crafted stories. Since Hollywood produces a lot of junk, I have to be careful what movies I will devote my time to. I don’t mind action films, but I do mind the amount of cursing that goes along with them.
In recent years, the Church has decided that it might need to tackle the movies, since that is such a big part of our country’s culture. They have produced several attempts at blockbusters, but the movies fell flat to all but the faithful.
Left Behind became the beginning of a series of novels that resonated not only with the Church, but the world. It hit the bestseller list and stayed there. Eleven other books followed (technically, at least 12, with two more planned, but they weren’t nearly as good as the original series). The world read them all. Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye became best selling authors.
I wasn’t terribly surprised when Left Behind was turned into a movie. I watched it, eager for the amazing story to be portrayed on the big screen. I was disappointed.
Whoever was behind the movie decided to veer considerably off course. The movie was okay, and the scenes they actually got from the book were fantastic. Two more movies followed…but they just got worse. After the third movie, the people behind it gave up. The success in the books was not going to be repeated in the box office.
Sherwood Pictures has been one of the only serious Church attempts at film making. They bring a compelling story to the screen. They still have Christianeze issues, but by their fourth movie, they actually put the salvation scene in a place where it made sense in the story. While I love their movies, they still have issues with believable plots, predictability, and acting.
It’s sort of sad when my favorite movies out of all the Christian attempts still have major issues. My eldest brother studied film making. We’ve both been watching the industry. When he finally saw Courageous, the last film Sherwood Pictures produced, we had a chat that was something along these lines.
“It was a good movie,” I said.
“It was predictable,” he lamented.
“Yes, but it did well. It made $35 million in the theaters!”
“That’s nothing in Hollywood standards.”
“Well, for a church, they did really well.”
“If it’s a good movie, it shouldn’t have a disclaimer.”
Try as I might, I wasn’t able to argue that point. If we have to defend the film with “for a church” or “for a Christian movie,” then we’ve already lost part of the fight. The uninitiated aren’t going to go to a church film unless they’re intrigued by the story. If the Church will just learn to tell a good story effectively on camera, we’ll at least do better at the box office. And in that regard, we are still learning.
I was excited to see that Left Behind was being remade. An actual big name actor, Nicholas Cage, was starring in it. I was confused over why they were relaunching a movie series that didn’t do well the first time, but I let that slide. Maybe they could do it better and tell the story.
I’ve yet to see the movie, but those dreams have already been dashed. Whoever was directing this movie also had storytelling issues. Even Nicholas Cage couldn’t save the movie. That, my friends, is pretty sad.
Dear Christian moviemakers,
Tell a good story. Don’t feel compelled to explain every piece of theology on screen. Let faith be a driving force, but tell a good story.
A frustrated moviegoer