A few months ago Greg Wright, the Managing Editor here at Hollywood Jesus, did an interview with Patheos.com. He talked about the history and philosophy behind the website, and commented at length about the importance of movies.
There is a moral weight in dealing with the art form of film because of the influence it wields and its potentially addictive nature. …The stakes are incredibly high and the influence is disproportionate.
…If we devote six to twelve years of education as children to learning a language we already speak, English, then why should we not invest time in learning the language of film? Given that it’s influencing our will and our intellect in such profound ways, I highly recommend that everybody find a textbook and invest time learning about the syntax of films and the way that they’re made.When you see a scene played out in front of you, you will have the intellectual capacity to dissect it and understand what is being said to you and how.
The Message Behind the Movie is subtitled How to Engage with a Film without Disengaging your Faith. Author Douglas M. Beaumont understands the importance of how a film speaks to us, and he devotes the first part of his book to an introduction on the subject. This is by no means an exhaustive treatise, but it does provide some insight into such terms as “protagonist,” “climax,” “dénouement,” and “mis en scene.” There are some great resources listed in the back of the book, but you will need to sift though a broad range of sources to find more on the language of film.
Beaumont’s forté is philosophy and apologetics. (He is a seminary professor and is pursuing his PhD in Philosophy of Religion. Click here to read his Bio on his website.) The bulk of the book is about how to use movies to share your faith. His imagined conversations between two college couples give some insight, but this section will not be much help to those with little knowledge of philosophy or theology, and is not deep enough to help the philosophy major. But again, there are some great resources listed in the back of the book.
The last section of the book gives a brief essay on the biblical approach to entertainment. Beaumont points out various principles found in the Bible and relates them to the subject without resorting to giving a laundry list of do’s and don’ts. He points out that each individual must make viewing decisions based on their own conscience, and we should be careful not to judge others for what they watch or don’t watch.
Perhaps it would have been better if The Message Behind the Movie were three books instead of one. Each of the topics covered could easily fill its own volume. But if any of these subjects grab your interest, this very readable work is not a bad place to start.
The Message Behind the Movie is published by Moody Publishers and is available at all the usual online sources. You can view the website for the book by clicking here.