It’s almost inevitable that whenever I’m at a BBQ or party, someone will end up asking me about media and films. This is because I work in media and I’ve gone out and made a few films over the years. And once people find out that I’m a Christian, the conversation usually turns into a discussion on ‘Christian films’.
This is always interesting as there are only a handful of opinions that different people have on this subject – and I’ve heard them all many times. As soon as a person starts talking I know exactly which opinion they have, and I will change the way I speak in order to communicate effectively with them. I change the things I say in order to talk about Christian films on their level. I do this in order to bring them on a short journey around the circle so I may explain the way I understand films and the placement of Christianity in films. I’ve learnt to make an effort to do this, because I see ‘Christian films’ very differently to most people.
In the end what it all boils down to is this – I am not interested in making ‘Christian films’ but rather I seek to make great films which have Christianity placed within them.
This often baffles people because its usually a new concept to them, which is why I first find out the position they are coming from before presenting my view. To accurately explain my view takes time, as I would first have to explain about screenwriting and controlling idea and story structure – just to mention a few. So what I tend to do instead is give examples of films they might have seen, which have elements of Christianity woven into them.
If they ask me about one of my own films such as 1500 Steps they will say “so, is it a Christian film?”. I will reply, “It’s a different type of Christian film – it’s a Christian film in the same way that Man of Steel or Chariots of Fire or Here Comes The Boom orRocky Balboa is a Christian film.” – I can tell you that I get some strange looks! Yet all of these films, and many other films and tv shows which you would not naturally think of as ‘Christian’ do in fact have the message of Christianity woven into the fabric of the story.
Some do it rather strongly while others do it subtly or will only offer a glimpse of the message. For example Man of Steel (the latest Superman movie), is almost a direct allegory of the story of Jesus – even to the point that they’ve made Superman 33 years old when he becomes the saviour of the world! Alternatively, an unusual example of Christianity in film is in the zombie TV series The Walking Dead, where at the end of the third series the antagonist reads a passage from a Bible that is laying open and gets convicted by it – or at least irritated. Then at the end of this episode we see a graveyard cross in the foreground of the prison with ‘hopeful’ music playing over it – symbolising the cross as a symbol of hope.
Because of my understanding of film and story structure, I know that I am not imagining these messages, – I know that they have been put in on purpose by the writers, producers and directors of the film.
By this stage of the conversation I can see the person’s brain start ticking over and their eyes opening up excitedly as they begin the understand the concept. Quite often at this stage of their new revelation they blurt out “Oh, that’s like The Matrix isn’t it?! – that’s got a Christian message in that!” – This is when I sigh and explain that, no I don’t think the Matrix has a Christian message, but is rather a very obvious Gnostic message. …but that’s for another conversation.
I’d love to know what messages you’ve picked up in films and tv shows you’ve recently seen. Feel free to comment.