Part of ongoing series: The Future of Faith-Based Filmmaking
Many Christians see these movies as a safe alternative to Hollywood’s immorality. Are they?
Try to keep an open mind…
You’ve already read the title and more than likely by now the sphincter clenched, pupils contracted, jaw set, and all guards flew up because you already know the unwritten rule: never badmouth Christian movies in mixed company.
You see, there are many who see Christian movies as a strange and largely inscrutable subgenre of drama that pushes aesthetically inferior, preachy, simplistic stories for the Christian ghetto. Thus, they dismiss every Christian movie by association. (See What is a Christian Movie?)
On the other hand, many Christians see these movies as a safe alternative to Hollywood’s immorality, and the only reason they do not receive more critical acclaim is bigotry. If you don’t agree, well then, you “love the world” or have backslidden into Hollywood’s lure of sex, violence, profanity, and hedonism…
The resulting argument always generates more heat than light, largely because both sides fail to recognize that Christian movies “suffer” under a different paradigm.
The Hollywood Way
Hollywood storytelling burgeoned over 100 years ago, born out of the theories of Aristotle and the Greek theater, rising through the medieval minstrel shows, through William Shakespeare and other Elizabethans, and into vaudeville. At each stage they refined a craft according to technology, culture and audience response.
The result is a storytelling template that emphasizes, generally speaking, a single protagonist who must go through an inner journey of transformation in order to overcome an external problem. We refer to that external conflict as “A plot” and the inner struggle as “B plot.”
Critiquing Hollywood movies, which takes graduate-level courses to explain, involves Aristotle’s principles as well as modern aesthetics. While this analysis may still seem like a popularity contest, most of the time the questions are: how unified is the story? How true to our human experience is it? How deep is the protagonist and how fulfilling is his arc? How well does the movie connect emotionally with its audience?
So a “bad movie” by Hollywood standards lacks aesthetic value (bad sound, bad lighting, bad acting, bad editing, etc) or it lacks unity (see: Aristotle’s Poetics) or is false, meaning we don’t accept the reality of the plot, character or theme.
The Christian Alternative
Christian movies, however, are part of a history of Biblical storytelling…
Other posts in the series so far: