The Oscars have come and gone for another year leaving behind them discussions of snubs and upsets — particularly if you’re really tall, blue and have a long tail.
It also is an annual exercise in looking at movies from a bird’s eye view, as Belief.net blogger Kris Rasmussen did in examining what she thought were the top 10 Christian movies of all time. Like most lists there are omissions and eyebrow-raisers, so for that reason alone take a look where you might agree or disagree.
It also raises the old question of what makes a film a Christian film?
Recently I interviewed Brian Baugh, the director of “To Save a Life.” The film follows a high school relationship that intertwines with social isolation, sexuality and abortion against an overt Christian backdrop. Baugh relayed, however, he thought pigeon-holing the film as Christian was typecasting it.
“What does ‘Christian film’ mean anyway?” Baugh asked. “Do you call Handel’s Messiah Christian music? Is Rembrandt’s work Christian painting? Is ‘Les Miserables’ Christian literature? Are films like ‘Walk the Line’ and ‘Bruce Almighty’ Christian films because the main character goes through a conversion experience? I’m not trying to imply that our little film is to the same level of artistry as some of the masterpieces listed above, but just trying to show that calling things ‘Christian’ is a clumsy poorly-defined category, and that ultimately it diminishes the relevance of the media to the general market.
“Just think of how many people would have avoided seeing the beautiful example of the grace of Christ if they were told that ‘Les Miserables’ was a Christian book, a Christian musical, or a Christian movie. So I wish the label would go away.”
Labels are much harder to peel off than stick on.
You may see Baugh’s point or discard it.
Regardless how you feel about his statement or the Belief.net list, here are a couple of other films to ponder as Christian with their themes.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994) – Tim Robbins’ portrayal of a wrongly accused murderer and the plot he concocts with Morgan Freeman to expose a cruel and corrupt warden is layered with meaning and the power of authentic relationships.
Field of Dreams (1989) – Sure, the “This isn’t heaven, it’s Iowa,” line might been a bit a corny, but as many times as I’ve seen this movie it’s still neat to see the relationships between fathers and sons rewarded by acts of faith.
Schindler’s List (1993) – It’s impossible to see this film and not be moved by the recognition of factory owner Oskar Schindler that Nazi barbarism toward Jews is as destructive as it was. Being close to a situation often distorts perspective. I this instance, it thankfully sharpened it.
Hotel Rwanda (2004) – Along similar lines to “Schindler’s List,” Hotel Rwanda tells the remarkable story of a hotel owner who uses all his professional contacts and business savvy to save Tutsi refugees in the bloody ethnic violence that engulfed the African nation in 1994.