Video: Best Bible Movies Ever! (Guest Post)
Near the top of my New Earth wish list is that God will set up a 3D IMAX theater where we can watch the real-life Bible movie. Wouldn’t it be amazing to see Moses part the actual Red Sea instead of Charlton Heston part a tray of jello? I want to see Adam formed from the dust, the fall of Jericho, Elijah’s whirlwind, the hand writing on the wall—everything!
But while in the shadowlands, we have to settle for the Hollywood version, and that’s a big settle.
Bible movies are, more often than not, unfaithful to their God-breathed source material. A well-known example is the downplaying of the Jews’ role in the crucifixion, passing the buck on to the Romans. Apparently, Jewish villains are a no-no (even if the heroes are Jewish too), so you’re not likely to see Jesus in kangaroo court on the silver screen. And this is a comparatively minor change; some movies bear almost no resemblance to their biblical inspirations, virtually all of them water down the gospel to a sermon on nebulous love, and some are outright blasphemous.
But let’s not get cinemaclastic just yet. Consider these three reasons I believe a Christian can benefit from Bible movies in spite of their failings:
1. They help remind us that the Bible didn’t take place in a stained glass window world, but in the same mundane, nitty-gritty reality that we inhabit, and in a far nitty-grittier environment than our western one.
2. Movies made by unbelievers remind us of the world’s misconceptions and false expectations about Christ. They’ve had these from the beginning, and it’s our duty and privilege to introduce them to the real Jesus.
3. They can reignite the wonder and appreciation for scripture by providing moving visuals or unique perspectives. I’m reminded of the whale seen through the spectacular wall of water in The Prince of Egypt, or the simple image of Jesus giving his first lesson to the disciples underneath a bridge in The Greatest Story Ever Told.
Admittedly, these aren’t strong enough reasons that I would say Christians positively should watch these movies, but rather that the two hours can have redeeming value beyond entertainment. (Unless, of course, it violates your understanding of commandment #2.)
Check out the Bible movies episode of my web series Rewindables. And for those who want to research this topic further, I recommend The Bible on the Big Screen by J. Stephen Lang.
Sean O’Brien earned a B.A. in Film Studies from the University of Utah and has been working in Christian television for five years. He is a husband and father of three and loves jackalope postcards, the apocalypse, and people who buy his movie at www.greatsaltlakedvd.com.