Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Some Quick Reflections On Christian Cinema

Mollywood exists. I know, you’ve probably never heard of it, but it’s out there. Mollywood is the term for Latter-day Saint cinema (stemming from the phrase “Molly Mormon). In recent years, a generation of Mormon filmmakers has risen up. Some of the movies are great (Singles Ward) and some are not so great (I won’t name names). But, it is safe to say that LDS films have come a long way! Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about their evangelical counterparts.

Before I go any farther, let me say that I am not LDS. I have LDS friends, and lived in Utah for a time, so I’m very familiar with Mormon culture. I am an evangelical. And yes, I’m going to pick on Christian filmmakers a bit, but not for the same reasons all those secular critics do. You see, for years I’ve hoped there would come a day when Christian filmmakers came forward and made quality films. It’s starting to happen, but we still have a long way to go!

Used to, every film produced by evangelicals was about the Rapture! Sometimes they even starred celebrities who were a bit past their prime (I’m looking in your direction, Gary Busey). But it seems every Christian movie maker believed a story wasn’t worth telling unless it presented dispensationalist eschatology with poor special effects. Recently, though, a new breed of films has made their way to the forefront. The folks at Sherwood Baptist Church in Georgia have turned out some really decent movies with great messages! However, I’m still not satisfied. Now, don’t get me wrong, the Sherwood movies are great. But, they are essentially hour and a half long sermon illustrations. That is to say, they are pushing a message. That’s not bad. I agree with the messages they push. But sometimes, I don’t want to hear preaching. I want to be entertained. And guess what: there’s nothing wrong with that. Message movies and sheer entertainment movies each have their place.

So, back to LDS cinema. Some Mormon movies are “preachy.” Some are just a good time! We need evangelicals who will realize that it’s alright to make a movie just because it’s funny and not because it teaches a moral. I don’t really care for the drama genre. I’d like to see a good comedy that is clean, and that portrays the lead characters as Christians. I would really relate to that sort of movie. Or, perhaps even an action movie or police film where the detectives are decent, Bible believing people. Basically, evangelical filmmakers could learn a lot from the folks over in Utah. I guarantee that if a funny, quality picture came out tailored for Christians it would do great business at the box office! So, I hope wannabe Christian filmmakers out there will read this and be encouraged to stick with it. Let’s get involved in the film industry and redeem our culture. And in the mean time, go watch Singles Ward or The R.M. and see how a faith based movie can be done right.

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