Movie Theology: Movie Reviews & Resources
Professor of Biblical Studies and Theology
Canadian Mennonite University
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Web sites offer the most efficient way to find movie information and reviews. The list below includes both general web sites where you can find information on literally thousands of movies, as well as web sites that offer reviews from a Christian perspective. Of those with a Christian orientation, some are mainly interested in offering warnings about aspects of a movie that viewers might find offensive, others seek to draw moralistic analogies between the Bible and movies, and still others focus on bringing theological insight to bear on the interpretation of movies. My hope is that these sites will contribute to serious reflection on the intersection of film and faith. Although you can find hundreds of web sites on movies, this list of suggestions includes many of the sites that I have found most helpful. Your suggestions will be gratefully accepted.
Finding Movie Reviews
Movie Theology Blogs
- Bible Films Blog by Matt Page
- Decent Films Blog by Steven D. Greydanus
- Film Journey by Doug Cummings (one of the creators of the Masters of Cinema site)
- Filmwell. A daily updated blog interested in cinema off the beaten track, criticism at the margins of the great conversation, and how art points the way to (as Henry Miller says) “life more abundant.”
- Gareth Higgins: Storytelling, Spirituality, Cinema, Violence and Peace. Gareth Higgins is author of How Movies Helped Save My Soul: Finding Spiritual Fingerprints in Culturally Significant Films (Relevant Books, 2003). See also the archive of Higgins’s previous blogs.
- Larsen On Film
- Peter Chattaway’s Filmchat. Chattaway is a film reviewer for Christianity Today’s website and for ChristianWeek, and an occasional contributor to Books & Culture.
- Pop Theology. Poptheology examines the intersection of pop culture and theology, religion, and spirituality.
- Rose Pacatte’s Movie Blog. Sister Rose is coauthor, with Peter Malone, of Lights, Camera... Faith! A Movie Lover’s Guide to Scripture. Her archive of about 475 reviews and postings (since 2003) is at http://rosepacatte.blogspot.com/.
- Soul Food Movies by Ron Reed (founding artistic director of Vancouver’s Pacific Theatre)
- Vic & Walter Thiessen: On Movies. These two brothers like to think about movies and other cultural offerings with some occasional theological and psychological nuances.
- Australian Catholic Film Office. Reviews by Father Richard Leonard SJ, Father Peter Malone MSC, and Ms Jan Epstein.
- Catholic News Service. Offers a list of the latest movie reviews as well as an alphabetical list of the latest 100 movies reviewed by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops Office of Film and Broadcasting.
- Charles Henderson’s Reviews at Godweb. Reviews on this Web site spring from a “lively faith in which the passions of the heart are brought into harmony with the life of the mind. We prefer to praise films that speak to the point of intersection between the mind and the spirit.” Excellent reviews.
- Christian Spotlight on the Movies. Offers movie reviews from a conservative evangelical perspective. Also, provides a “rating” for each film (e.g., a “1” is very offensive, while a “5” describes a movie containing nothing offensive). Contains interesting comments on its bulletin board.
- Christianity Today’s Movies. Commentaries, reviews and articles on current movies.
- Cinema in Focus. “It is our desire for the reader to explore with us each week the values portrayed in contemporary films, to be drawn into discussions about the deeper experiences of life.” Denny Wayman is pastor of the Free Methodist Church in Santa Barbara, CA (MDiv, Asbury; DMin, Fuller). Hal Conklin is the President of the California Center for Civic Renewal.
- CrossWalk.com From the mission statement: “For many of us, faith is too often something we think or feel while life is something we do. Finding practical, everyday ways to integrate faith into life is the stuff of lessons and sermons for thousands of years past, and it seems to be an increasingly difficult mission in today’s fast-paced, chaotic world.”
- Damaris International. Serving people of all faiths, and none, as they explore the spiritual and moral issues underlying contemporary popular culture. Damaris offers a variety of resources, including their Film Blog: Exploring Life through Film, and their Film and Bible Blog: Exploring Biblical Spirituality through the Media. Both web pages include articles and discussion guides, although the Film Blog questions are more extensive. Use the Search feature of the Film and Bible Blog to access articles and discussion guides from the old Damaris Film Page. For quick access to resources on the most recent films, click here.
- Decent Films. “A site of film appreciation, information and criticism informed by Christian faith.” Steven D. Greydanus, the creator of the site, is a publishing film critic with degrees in media arts and religious studies.
- The Dove Foundation’s Home Page. The site includes brief reviews of current movies. Each review includes a paragraph on “Christian worldview,” along with evaluation and warnings regarding sexuality, language, violence, drugs, nudity and occultism. Identifies movies that have received the Dove seal of approval.
- The Fish: A Christian Look @ Pop Culture. Absorbed into CrossWalk.com.
- Hollywood Jesus. Pop Culture from a Spiritual Point of View. Webmaster David Bruce is a pastor who says: “I love to go to church and film festivals. For me they are both spiritual experiences. I believe that our search for God and life’s meaning is reflected in Hollywood films and in our culture. Our reviews are visual and look beyond the surface to the deeper emotional, spiritual, and biblical connections.”
- INTERFILM NORTH AMERICA. An international network that brings together interested individuals and institutions concerned with film and theology, and church and cinema. For the European site, click here. Interfilm participates, with SIGNIS (the World Catholic Association for Communication), in the Ecumenical Juries at about twenty-two international film festivals. The juries give awards to films for their artistic quality; for depicting human attitudes or expressions of the Gospel, and for sensitizing viewers to spiritual and social questions and values. Find listings of Ecumenical Prize winners by clicking on the Festivals link on the European site, and the Awards link on the North American site.
- Longpauses. A fine site with thoughtful, critical commentary, reviews and articles.
- Looking Closer at the Movies. “Movies, like any art form, can reveal for us pieces of the truth, no matter who directed the film, who starred in it, or what it is about. The better the film, the truer the film. All aspects of a film can work towards this revelation.” Jeffrey Overstreet, editor of the site.
- MEDIAFILM A service of the Catholic church in Quebec: MÉDIAFILM est une agence de presse qui regroupe tous les services d’information en cinéma de Communication et société, un organisme à but non lucratif créé en 1956 sous l’appellation Centre Catholique national du cinéma, de la radio et de la télévision, et connu par la suite sous le nom d’Office des communications sociales (OCS).
- Metaphilm: “We Don’t Review Films; We Interpret Them.” This site is creative, thoughtful, and provocative.
- Movie Bible Studies. Discussion guides from Christianity Today.
- Movie Concordance. From The Text This Week site. “This project is a ‘concordance’ of a kind—an attempt to gather together scenes in movies which serve as ‘comparative texts’ in relationship to Biblical/spiritual themes and passages.” Linked to Scripture texts in the Common lectionary. Especially helpful is the Theme Index, which lists over 200 theological themes and biblical motifs.
- Movie Glimpse. “Our desire at Movieglimpse is to help reconnect your heart to the greatest story ever told. How? By revealing it to you in the movies that you love.” A small selection of reviews by Leslie Hand.
- MovieGuide. A sampling of current reviews, along with articles that offer critique of the media. More and fuller reviews are available to subscribers. The site is dedicated to “redeeming the values of the media according to biblical principles.” Reviews movies according to potentially offensive elements, and identifies the movie’s “worldview” as: Christian, environmentalist, humanist or socialist, homosexual, false religion, New Age or Pagan, etc.
- MovieMinistry. A resource site dedicated to providing illustrations from movies for biblical texts and theological themes. Some resources are free; most are by subscription. Free email newsletters.
- Movies Matter. Resources for group discussions of film and faith.
- Past the Popcorn. “Reviews and essays will attempt a serious analysis of a film’s meaning, both from the audience’s point of view and from the filmmakers’, as much as is critically possible. Recognizing that all films still exist (in part) as entertainment, films will also be subjectively reviewed for ‘nutritainment value’ and audience-appropriateness.”
- Peaceweb—Movies with a Conscience. This site lists suggested “movies with a conscience” by category (e.g. “Antiwar,” “Biography,” “Environment,” “Religion,” etc.).
- Peter Chattaway’s Movie Reviews. Archive of older reviews.
- The Phantom Tollbooth. “We are an on-line magazine that publishes a wide range of album, concert and movie reviews, interviews, features and resource links. We began in December, 1996 and our monthly readership now numbers over five thousand.”
- Plugged In Film Reviews. An on-line version of Focus on the Family’s Plugged In magazine. Reviews offer plot summary, comments about positive elements in the movie, spiritual content, as well as warnings regarding sexual content, violence, language warnings, drug use, etc.
- Ransom Fellowship. See the movies page. “Thinking Christianly about movies and culture.” Some reviews include excellent discussion guides.
- Reel Spirituality: An Institute for Moving Pictures. Codirectors Robert K. Johnston and Barry Taylor and others offer study guides, reviews and essays. The Institute focuses on the “creative encounter between the church and Hollywood... in discovery of common ground as story tellers, image shapers, and culture makers.”
- SIGNIS: the World Catholic Association for Communication. The SIGNIS Television and Film Festivals page includes links to most of the major international film festivals. Check out the reviews by Peter Malone (Signis President).
- The Third Way Café: Media Matters.
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Movie Reviews. From the Office of Film and Broadcasting. Includes Vatican Top 45 List.
- Visual Parables. By Edward McNulty, author of two books titled Praying the Movies. McNulty blogs occasionally at Visual Parables Blog.
Film Discussion Groups
Magazines, Journals, etc.
Reviews for Parents:
Get the Scoop on Sex, Language, Violence
Best Films Lists
Public Performance Rights in Canada
Schools, churches, and youth groups need permission to view movies. These sites are brokers for public performance rights.
Resources by Gordon Matties
Office phone: 204-487-3300 ext. 635
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