If you hang out with me and my mates and haven't seen the films we have, you will not have a clue what were talking about - half our conversation is based around appropriately funny film quotes!
And what used to be our perfect Sunday was to kick it to my place (like The Big Bang Theory guys) armed with a take away (usually Chinese - which no matter how big the order only ever takes 10 minutes to cook!), put on a DVD or two, stuff our faces then all settle down with a cup of tea and talk about the film. It would always get deep quick…sometimes up to ten of us would be sprawled round the lounge trying to figure out, did we like it? What was it about?
But thats just the social film watching:
Watching films over and over, watching all the commentaries, hours of behind the scenes, making of documentaries, reading what the writers intended message was, reviews, websites, books & articles as to why Han shot first, looking at deeper messages behind the story, what’s with the licences plates in the Matrix sequels?
Why do certain colours appear in scenes of M. Night Shyamalan films?
Where is the influence behind this story? Who is Philip K. Dick and why should I care?
When someone with that sort of mentality becomes a Christian what happens is…
You dive into The Bible, watch the Chuck Missler commentaries, read the commentaries by serious dudes like John Stott, read what the writers intended message was, reviews, websites, books & articles as to why David shot first, looking into the deeper messages behind the story, what is Toledot in the Torah?
Why is no detail trivial in the genealogy of Jesus?
Who is the influence behind all 66 books? Who is Wayne Grudem and why should I care?
You see the world afresh like Neo when he's on-route to see the oracle. The world you thought you knew, yet through different eyes. You have indeed taken your first step into a larger world only this time the stories, comic books, novels and films you watch or grew up watching seem oddly familiar; themes and phrases prick up your ears, characters seem very familiar!
I’ve been a Christian for just over 8 years but I recognised early on that films would strike a chord with me.
The story, art, music and feel of a film would leave me dazed and stunned but it would also lead me to ask the deeper question about life, about God, faith and meaning.
I believe God speaks through films.
One famous oscar winning writer Sylvester Stallone acknowledges divine inspiration when he sat down to write Rocky in three days.
God in a personal letter (written 100 years before his birth) to Cyrus says in part,
I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the Lord, who calls you by your name, am the God of Israel. For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel my elect, I have even called you by your name; I have named you, though you have not known Me. I am the Lord. - Isaiah 45: 3-5 (NKJV)
Can God influence a comic book, a novel, a film? The writers of The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia and The Chronicles of Brothers would say a big fat yes. The Isaiah quote would seem to suggest that God can inspire people even if they remain unaware.
I watched Iron Man - in fact I watch films like people listen to music. I watched it over 30 times. Loved it, about 5th time through I felt God say: “This is just the story of Paul retold”
Oh really? Excited I got my geek on I dived into the book of Acts 9:9-25, gave a few loud “No ways!", I did an inductive Bible study (thats black belt Bible geek!)
Watch the film again, did an inductive bible study on Iron Man, (wait that's not normal! Off piste geek!)
Heres what I found:
The question is, are our films inspired or just influenced by our cultural Christian heritage? Or do we look at the Biblical influence in the fabric of western culture from our laws, education & Health care but fail to think of its influence in our Films and stories?
Stan Lee AKA Stanley Lieber son of Romanian-born Jewish immigrant parents may class himself as not religious but was quoted as citing the Bible as an early influence in his youth.
Brian Godawa (screenwriter and author) writes “God loves movies. movies are visually dramatic stories, and in the Bible the dominant means through which God communicates his truth is visually dramatic stories – not systematic theology. 70% of the Bible is story, vision, symbol and narrative.”
So was the origin story of Iron man inspired by the bible? Will we see more biblical stories in films simply recycled or re-booted or is it as the writer of Ecclesiastes says “there is nothing new under the sun.”
The One Door Cinema Club (Film and Theology)