If you’re a fan of faith-based cinema and can’t get enough of movies like Mom’s Night Out and God’s Not Dead, then you’d better enjoy the current and soon-to-be-released offerings while you still can.
Just as the Bible says in 2 Corinthians, “…the things we see now will soon be gone.” (NLT)
Of course, the Scripture is referring to our troubles here on Earth, but I believe the same can be said for faith-based films in theaters. Heck, if we’re brutally honest, a lot of Christian movies are troubling for their sheer lack of quality, so it may not be such a bad thing if they stayed primarily on DVD until filmmakers can deliver better and more competent work to the big screen.
I’ve been watching a lot of older Bible-based and faith-oriented movies lately, and overall, the quality and storytelling of these films trumps most of what you’ll find in Christian bookstores today.
I’m not just talking about classics like The Ten Commandments or The Robe, either. There were a slew of fantastic titles back in the 1950s and early 1960s that weren’t only centered on the Bible, but there were selections that dealt with faith-based living and the triumphs and struggles that went along with them. A few that come to mind: Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, The Nun’s Story and Elmer Gantry (all of which received critical acclaim).
Back in the 1930s and 1940s, a lot of stories that revolved around Christian characters were so well-written, many of them went on to achieve Academy Award nods for Best Picture. Take, for instance, Boys Town, One Foot in Heaven and How Green was My Valley.
Obviously, you don’t see any movies with faith-based characters receiving critical acclaim or nominations for Best Picture anymore. You could blame that on the changing mentality in Hollywood, but my thought is that there simply aren’t enough skilled writers and filmmakers to produce those sort of movies in this day and age (at least, not from what I’ve seen on the UP and TBN networks).
Also, if you look into the history of previous faith-based releases, you may notice a trend of Christian-themed movies coming out in lengthy spurts. You’ll find there’s an uptick in Christian-related films that lasts for a few years, but then it tapers off and then reignites several years later.
The latest spurt seems to have started with The Passion of the Christ, which helped to revive the faith-based genre after a long hiatus. Since The Passion was released, Christian movies have obviously been strong in sales as far as DVDs go, but the uprising of faith-related films hitting theaters is just recently gaining its momentum.
More Bible-based and Christian-themed films are slated for release in theaters relatively soon, including the Left Behind remake and Exodus. But, unless faith-based moviegoers come out in droves to support these films consistently, the faith genre won’t stick around in theaters for long…and then it will inevitably be confined to a lengthy stint on DVD and Netflix.
However, since history does tend to repeat itself, this also means there will eventually be another resurgence in Christian films in theaters. The catch: you may have to wait another 20 years or so before it happens (if Jesus doesn’t come back first).
So, what are your thoughts on more Christian films hitting the big screen? Could it help filmmakers regain the ability to create engaging faith-oriented plots and make Hollywood take notice? Or, will the stereotypes of Christian films being full of preachy predictably and void of intriguing content continue to plague us?
Sound off in the comments section below.