Let’s be honest – most “Christian” movies are hot stinky garbage. I say that lovingly… ok, I don’t – because most Christian movies are made from a limited, hyper-conservative theological perspective, and often lack nuance and artistry. But I’m here to tell you there are great movies out there about faith, some made even by the most renowned filmmakers in history, that you may have never even heard of. Here’s “5 Movies about Faith that Don’t Suck.”
The Prince of Egypt
A bona fide animation classic, The Prince of Egypt boasts some of the greatest musical and acting talent you could ever hope to assemble for what is essentially a beefed-up Bible story. The film resonates with some of the most important and oft-neglected themes of the original Exodus texts, and flourishes in the moments it has to go “off-script,” as opposed to the astoundingly awful “Exodus: Gods and Kings.”
Read our short reflection on The Prince of Egypt here.
Of Gods and Men
This criminally under-seen French film from 2010 is about a group of Trappist monks in Algeria who find themselves caught in the middle of a Civil War that pits their personal safety against their calling to their neighborhood. The beauty of the filmmaking here belies the quiet but tense conflict these men face between one another and within themselves. This true story highlights the faith of these men without over-aggrandizing them, or making their decision seem easy or even clear.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
While the film does not put the faith of Fred Rogers front-and-center, it does not hide it either. Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister whose ministry assignment was television, His faith was inseparable from his calling to children and their healthy development through broadcasting. What’s really special about the film is the way it eschews the temptation to be a typical biopic, tracing Rogers’ origins from birth to death, but instead focuses on a lost adult who Rogers nurtures through trauma with empathy and challenge. The film is almost “evangelical” in a way – not “Evangelical” in that represents a certain set of conservative, Western politics along with its religious convictions, but “evangelical” in that it is designed to spread its message of grace, kindness, and empathy to every adult viewer through the storytelling.
Watch our video, “A Year of God in Movies 2020,” featuring A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.
One of the greatest filmmakers alive, Martin Scorsese released this slow-burning spiritual epic in 2016 to little acclaim or audience. Regardless, it is a masterful film that challenges core convictions about Christ and Culture, missionary work, apostasy, and whether God can handle our compromise. It’s something of a frustrating miracle how many different interpretations that Christians can walk away from this film with, and yet it remains that the stunning direction of Scorcese, performance by Andrew Garfield, and the original novel by Shūsaku Endō leave each viewer with more questions than answers; more wondering than deciding.
Imagining ministry in the 21st century as suspense-thriller, magical-realism, and free-fall into depression, writer-director Paul Schrader and star Ethan Hawke create a haunting, unforgettable story of post-modern faith. Wrestling with themes like alcoholism, climate change, post-Christendom, love, desire, and grace, First Reformed may be the most intense display of the tragedy and challenge of faith in our times. While the ending of the film remains a frustrating challenge to some, it certainly must be seen – whether or not it is to be believed.
So there you go! 5 movies to challenge and strengthen your faith that won’t make you shove popcorn kernels in your eyes just to make it stop!
How many have you seen? What movies do I miss?
Theophany’s mission to bring God to light in film has another branch: a YouTube channel of video essays. Check them out, and don’t forget to like and subscribe while you’re there.