our film reviews: from armchair viewing to the festival front row

30 April 2007

[Reel-Comments] Top 50 religious films...

Fat Roland prompted me to mention this here to those that might not have seen it: The Church Times’ 50 top religious films.

And no, The Passion of The Christ is not number one (but it does make it to 9 somehow). And how did The Sound of Music make it to 17?...

Of course, I’m going to argue that their premise is flawed (we’re all po-mo now, right?). Picking the “top religious” films creates a false divide between the scared and the secular. We’re not, after all, watching these movies in church – they’re being made (often in Hollywood) for cinema audiences. They acknowledge this – “A film might promote values that viewers would want to share passionately, but contain no explicit reference to faith or creed. Its plot might be read as an allegory that invites comparisons with religious themes, but only to some of its viewers.” For me, it’s not a good enough reading of the times – people do have spiritual experiences in the cinema and these top 50 films are largely not the ones that would provoke this reaction (think Matrix, think Truman Show).

Hardly any of their long list even touch the popular approach to the subject – Liar, Liar and Bruce Almighty might be two to mention here. Plus, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (breaking the “rules”) made it in because it’s “metaphorical nature was clear enough.” And yet, a film that is a metaphor for something else other than religious life/ values/ etc but has overtly religious content made it in as well (ref: The Crucible – McCarthyism/ religious persecution).

My other snarl would be towards this quote in particular: “…surprisingly for an era often categorised as greedy and secular, the 1980s produced 14 of our films.” But it’s common knowledge that Hollywood is a (cinematic) decade behind the times, isn’t it? This reflects the fact that writing, pitching, producing and marketing a film often takes about that long. Thus the releases of these “80s” flicks are a glance back to the 70s – the fall out from and reaction to the Vietnam war, the end of flower power, the rise of environmentalism, feminism and so on. It’s the films of the early 90s we should be wary of – hence only five making the list (all post-1994 – The Apostle, The Crucible, Priest, Afterlife, Prince of Egypt).

Nuff griping… you can see the list for yourself here.

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Blogger Fat Roland said...

And I can't BELIEVE they didn't include Nuns On The Run.

2/5/07 11:03


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