Composition of a Good Film: Honoring God

The questions I’ve been wrestling with over the past several months are these: Can art be God-glorifying without expressly mentioning God? Can an artist glorify God in a secular art-producing environment without expressly mentioning God? Can art and artists unintentionally glorify God?

Sherwood Pictures, division of Sherwood Baptist Church. You’ve probably heard of them at some point, and if you haven’t heard of them you’ve probably heard of their movies: Flywheel, Facing the Giants, Fireproof, Courageous. However you may feel about them, if you’ve seen any of their films you cannot deny that they clearly show Jesus Christ as the Way, the Truth,  and the Life. They show Him as the One who heals and makes right.  Their films are obviously, expressly, intentionally God-glorifying.

I’m thinking about some of my favorite movies: The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Little Women, Stardust, Anne of Green Gables, The Sound of Music, and I could probably go on for days. Some of them I like for their stories and some I like for overall art direction. Thematically, these movies present good and evil, love and hatred, lust and fear, positive femininity, growth, and (for the most part) wholesome humor. None of these movies mention God, unless its in a generic way. Certainly they don’t portray Jesus and being the Way, the Truth and the Life.  In fact, some of them draw from other philosophies. And yet, I would say all of them are good movies, even excellent movies.

I’ve come to the conclusion that when a movie is composed in excellence, that is it follows or intentionally manipulates the rules of film theory, is thought out and thought-provoking, it can still be God-glorifying. I feel like that just has to be one of those God things that will completely blow my mind if I think about it to hard. I do accept it, though.

Similarly, I think believing artists who go into “non-sacred” art can also glorify God – in the way they conduct themselves and in the way they produce art.

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Excellence is an emerging topic on this blog. It’s been an emerging topic in my life.  Excellence in the movies we observe is just a starter topic. In the coming weeks and months we will be hearing from various artists on excellence in literature, photography, and music, as well as art in the local church. We are excited to share it all with you!

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Lydia holds a Bachelor of Arts in Radio, Television,  and Film.  She is passionate about reaching artists with the good news of Jesus Christ. She is also incredibly thankful for the artists who have stepped up to the plate to help in this ministry. You are all a HUGE blessing!

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2 Comments to “Composition of a Good Film: Honoring God”

  1. I definitely agree, RJ. Film/movies have many layers in which they need to pursue excellence, because they involve many different art forms. I think as writers, we both probably have a tendency to place a lot of weight on the story, and not as much on the other aspects. The story is certainly important, but I think I find myself more and more focusing on visual excellence. I have a hard time watching a film/movie where the cinematography or the sound or art direction or even the acting is not excellent, even with the literary elements you mention.

    I’m trying to think of a good writing illustration, heehee. You write, and your books clearly (clearly, clearly, clearly) demonstrate Biblical principles, consequences for sin, and good triumphing over evil. However, your books also follow literary forms in that they are grammatically correct, you research what you’re writing about, and your stories include pertinent information. If someone wrote a book that was full of grammatical errors and demonstrated poor research or included unnecessary fluff, and yet inluded the elements you talk about, is it still an excellent book? You and I may feel differently on this point, but I don’t think it could be called excellent if this is the case. A believer may be more willing to overlook the bad form because it is a moral story, but an unbelieving student of literature will probably not give it a chance.

    As a believing film-maker trying to reach artists (because film is one of the art forms that brings artists together), I want to make a conscious effort to make films that will resonate with unbelieving artists and yet that clearly include the elements you mention (Biblical principles, the gospel, consequences for sin, good triumphing over evil). In order to have that, my films must first be God-glorifying and secondly be artistically excellent. I don’t really believe you can achieve true excellence by having one without the other.

    Hopefully that makes sense. 🙂
    (Lydia)

  2. I think, even more than that, it needs to show Biblical principles, consequences for sin, and that good triumphs over evil. 🙂

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