Faith-based films have become a new way of framing elements related to traditional Christian values and beliefs. The fact that moviegoers are expecting something huge from the highly anticipated sequel to The passion of Christ is only slightly indicative of the importance of the audience for these films. They’re doing incredibly well (the first god is not dead made 30 times its budget at the box office alone) and inspired their own streaming platform, PureFlix, and yet remain under fire (the same film has a 12% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and almost no modern Christian film exceeds the 30%).
Maybe the difference is that Christian audiences want something different from a movie than critics do. Critics and moviegoers cherish the style, artistry, aesthetics, solid performances, unique storylines and impressive direction; the huge fanbase of movies like Left over or Do you believe? essentially want just one thing: a powerful religious message that supports the (often evangelical) dogmatics of Christianity. Different audiences want different things.
Faith-based films have recently emerged over the past decade and entered the mainstream by not prominently addressing religion itself, but relying heavily on the centralized idea of resisting and to overcome adversity, even when it seems impossible (American Underdog Kurt Warner’s story is perhaps the best recent example). In recent years, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of people who want to watch inspirational movies in order to get inspired, but who don’t specifically believe in any religion, at least dogmatically. Movies just happen to slip in a bit of faith.
This type of popular cinema, which one could call the New Christian Cinema, is a fascinating subgenre that breaks the rules of traditional “good” cinema. While some movies have obviously gotten better reviews than others, the majority of them (and the filmmakers) scoff at positive reviews from critics (which they probably perceive as liberal and not religious, anyway) . They care about the Christian fan base. As such, they are almost counter-cultural in their provocative rejection of what professional critics and moviegoers call “good cinema”, and are in fact somewhat subversive. These are the greatest films of the new Christian cinema.
8 god is not dead
The film series, god is not dead has been an important part of new Christian cinema, spawning the film series God’s Not Dead 2, God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darknessand God is not dead: we the peopleand is based on the book by Rice Broocks God is not dead: proof of God in a time of uncertainty. This seems to be a direct response to Nietsche’s parable of the madman, in which he declared “God is dead”, as well as the so-called “Death of God” theological movement led by Thomas Altizer in the 1960s.
The first film revolves around Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper), as the student’s faith is widely questioned by his philosophy teacher (Kevin Sorbo). The professor, who is an atheist, claims that God is an act of pre-scientific fiction. Wheaton is then forced to defend Christianity in the midst of his school environment. Like many films of new Christian cinema, it portrayed atheists in a condescending and negative light, but its influence was enormous and god is not dead continues to attract believers who believe their beliefs are outdated in modern society.
The 2008 movie fireproof tells the story of Caleb Holt (played by New Christian Cinema figurehead Kirk Cameron), a decorated firefighter trying to salvage his relationship with his wife, Catherine (Erin Bethea). After learning how bad his marriage has become, noticing his personal failures as a husband, Holt turns to love’s challenge, an acclaimed Christian self-help book. He then embarks on a 40-day experiment to heal his marriage from impending divorce. fireproof demonstrates the personal struggles that married couples face on a daily basis and how Christians have incorporated biblical faith to mend them.
6 Show me the father
Including a range of intriguing stories, Show me the father offers multiple perspectives on the importance of fathers and their essential roles (in the traditional sense), all interconnected by commentary by Tony Evans. The Christian documentary develops the stories of five fathers, good fathers, absent fathers and violent fathers. The film also delves into the perspectives of the wives and mothers of these men and strives to be an inspiring account of biblical fatherhood.
5 A week away
The Christian Teen Musical A week awayalso a Netflix original film, is one of the few originals from the streaming giant to tackle new Christian cinema and religious cinema, straddling the lines between subgenre and mainstream in a sort of evangelized version of The Earth. The film details the story of Will Hawkins (Kevin Quinn), a troubled youngster who moves from foster home to foster home, until his mischievous behavior becomes too much for each of his temporary adoptive parents. With nowhere to go, Will finds himself in a camp which he initially tries to flee, but later stays behind as he finds fellowship in the group of Christians there as well. Once Will finds a male father figure, new friends, and even a girl he likes, he realizes he belongs.
4 Left over
Left over was the 2000 picture that arguably kick-started the whole craze for new Christian cinema, after the widespread success of the series of novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. The apocalyptic film paints a picture of what it feels like to uncover a mystery that hits close to home. Ray Steele (Brad Johnson), an airline pilot, discovers that a number of passengers on his flight have suddenly disappeared, including his wife and son. Ray, his daughter, and others who remained (left behind) from the supposed abduction all work together to find out what really happened. Sure, Left over stars Kirk Cameron. The movie was actually remade with Nicolas Cage in 2014, but the idea of a sudden apocalyptic rapture was perfect in the theologically compelling and massively underrated HBO show. Leftovers.
3 Do you believe?
When Matthew (Ted McGinley), a community pastor, is captivated by the increased level of faith of a nearby street corner preacher, he becomes inspired in his personal life and profession to help others in Do you believe? Recalling that true belief is only possible throughout the action, he and other people (doctor, paramedic, homeless woman and others) who are also struggling with their own issues, come together as begin to question the meaning of their religious beliefs.
A motivating example of how orthodoxy is nothing without orthopraxy, and filled with some of the best performances in faith-based films, the film nevertheless plays on some unfortunate racial stereotypes common in new, predominantly white Christian cinema.
2 American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story
Although the main synopsis of American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story does not directly incorporate religion, it includes important elements of faith that even people who do not practice the region can watch. Based on the true story of Kurt Warner, he suffered years of setbacks (both in his personal and professional life), later becoming a two-time NFL MVP, Super Bowl champion, and quarterback. of the Hall of Fame. The film has perhaps the highest rating of any part of New Christian Cinema, with a score of 75% on Rotten Tomatoes and strong professional performances from Anna Paquin, Zachary Levi and Dennis Quaid.
1 The shack
Mack Phillips (Sam Worthington), after suffering a family tragedy, sinks into a deep state of depression which also causes him to question his deepest beliefs. Debating his faith, he mysteriously receives a letter, urging him to go to an abandoned cabin in Oregon. Mack sets out to leave, despite his doubts, and encounters a group of allegorical strangers who transform his life for the better.
Globally, The shack delves into the components of suffering and evil in the world, while emphasizing resisting these mental conundrums through faith that is not tangible. The shack was a huge hit, thanks in large part to strong performances (especially from Octavia Spencer as God), grossing $100 million despite scoring 21% on Rotten Tomatoes. The film testifies to the fact that critics don’t matter when it comes to faith.
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