In Seeing Christ in Films: Part I, I wrote the following:
What follows are movies that have touched me in a spiritual way (though this probably wasn’t the intent of the creators). The reason is that I strikingly saw my Lord in them. There are certainly more, but this is just an off-the-cuff sampling. The films appear in no particular order. And I’ve intentionally left out the overtly “Christian” and Bible-based films as well as the brilliant and wonderful C.S. Lewis’ series. The films listed here are a bit more subtle.
Disclaimer: Just because a movie is listed below doesn’t mean or imply that I agree with or endorse everything in that particular film. Humans are flawed so we can’t help but create flawed art . . . some less so than others. Thus when it comes to films . . . as in any art form . . . I follow Paul’s maxim to hold fast to that which is good and reject that which is evil. In this vein, I’m thankful for Fast Forward. And God is a master at writing straight with crooked lines.
Here are a few more films that I’m adding to the list of seven that I’ve already introduced in the first post of this series:
Accepted – 2006 movie with Justin Long. Back in 1998, I delivered a message called The Developmental Stages of an Organic Church: Church Development 101 (It’s on the Challenging the Simple Church Movement CD.) In it, I traced the five steps of David as he built the city of Jerusalem. Step 1 was the cave of Adullam:
So David left Gath and took refuge in the cave of Adullam. When David’s brothers and his father’s whole family heard, they went down and joined him there. In addition, every man who was desperate, in debt, or discontented rallied around him, and he became their leader. About 400 men were with him. (1 Samuel 22:1-2, Holman Standard Bible)
Accepted serves as a great metaphor of some of the key differences between the organic expression of the church and the institutional church. It’s all about the cave of Adullam, as it were. It also depicts the tension that’s existed for centuries between mainstream Christianity and those who have borne the torch of the testimony of the headship of Christ and the functioning of His body outside the religious system. The end of the film brings this all together in a powerful way.
Chocolat – 2000 movie with Johnny Depp. Authentic organic church life is marked by grace-based relationships rather than Law-based relationships. Body life that’s truly under the headship of Jesus is rooted in a revelation of Christ which brings with it mercy, forgiveness, and love (treating others the way we would want to be treated and thinking the best of them always) rather than being rooted in self-righteousness (magnifying the faults of others as being greater than our own), motive-judging (imputing evil intentions to the hearts of others), and shame-based interactions. Chocolat powerfully highlights the differences between the worlds of grace and Law in uncanny terms. (Note: Like all films, there are flaws in the parallels. But if you examine the big picture – no pun intended, the analogy is quite striking.)
Inception - 2010 film with Leonardo DiCaprio. I think the “kick” serves as an effective metaphor of spiritual awakening. When a person is at a certain level of dreaming, they are called out of that level to a level closer to reality or into reality itself by having something done to them that causes their bodies to lose balance. This loss of balance is called “the kick.” By the kick, the person is awakened out of their dream world into the real world. Interestingly, the first time the kick occurs in the film, the character is sitting in a chair, and the chair is kicked out from behind him, causing the character to fall into a bathtub of water. A beautiful metaphor for baptism. By repentance and faith in Jesus, expressed through water baptism, we as sinners are “awakened” from the old life of unreality into the new world of reality in Christ. Great film.
Last but not least: Animal Farm (1954, animated) and Exam (2009) are films that give a great look at how the Fall gets exposed in Christians when human control is lifted from them, and they are given “freedom” without Christ to fill the void.