Thinking about the Creed with Film

41QEVB4NNQL._SL210_Bryan Stone's Faith and Film (2000) is a study of the Apostle's Creed with film. Each line of the creed discusses a different film(s). Stone demonstrates how the different films can illuminate, or not, Christian theology; that is, he doesn't seek to accomodate theology to film, but instead create a dialogue.

'I believe' = Contact

'God, the Father Almighty' = Oh God!

'Creator of heaven and earth' = 2001: A Space Odyssey

'Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord' = Jesus of Montreal

'Conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary' = The Greatest Story Ever Told / The Last Temptation of Christ / The Gospel According to St. Matthew

'Suffered under Pontius Pilate' = Romero

'Was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead' = One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

'On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father' = Phenomenon /  Powder / E.T.

'Will come again to judge the living and the dead' = Flatliners

'I believe in the Holy Spirit' = Star Wars

'The holy catholic church' = The Mission

'The communion of the saints' = Babette's Feast

'The forgiveness of sins' = Dead Man Walking

'The resurrection of the body and the life everlasting' = The Shawshank Redemption

Over a decade on, I wonder what other films might now be equally as helpful or interesting in thinking through the Christian faith with film. I'd like to think there might be better films than Flatliners or Star Wars.


Top Religious Films of the Decade?

Eric Repphun has posted his top 11 religiously themed films of the decade here (with explanations why). They are:

Sunshine (Danny Boyle, 2007)

Children of Men (Afonso Cuaron, 2006)

There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)

Heaven (Tom Tykwer, 2002)

The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)

The New World (Terrence Malick, 2005)

Jesus Camp (Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, 2006)

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring (Kim Ki-Duk, 2003)

The Proposition (John Hillcoat, 2005)

Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)

The Bothersome Man (Jens Lien, 2006)

And the worst (and this one was easy): The Passion of the Christ (Mel Gibson, 2004)

Some very good choices, especially Children of Men and The Dark Knight. I think an argument could be made for Man Dancin' (Norman Stone, 2003), Gone Baby Gone (Ben Affleck, 2007) and Shooting Dogs (Michael Caton-Jones, 2005). What would be on your list?


Films Watched in 2008


A Girl With a Pearl Earring 4 out of 5
Fantastic Four 3 out of 5
A Lot Like Love 3 out of 5
Ladder 49 3 out of 5
Superbad 3 out of 5
Brick 4 out of 5
Fantastic Four 2: The Rise of the Silver Surfer 2 out of 5
The Chronicles of Riddick 2 out of 5
Babel 3 out of 5
Ned Kelly 3 out of 5
Juno 4 out of 5
When Did You Last See Your Father? 3 out of 5
Zodiac 4 out of 5
Black Book 3 out of 5
Man Dancin' 4 out of 5
Half Nelson 3 out of 5
Stardust 3 out of 5
Sideways 4 out of 5
The Heartbreak Kid 1 out 5
The Ex 3 out of 5
Tin Men 3 out of 5
Michael Clayton 4 out of 5
Elizabeth: The Golden Age 3 out of 5
The Shape of Things 3 out of5
Into the Wild 4 out of 5
Hilary and Jackie 4 out of 5

The Waitress 3 out of 5
Into the Blue 3 out of 5
The Dreamers 3 out of 5
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 2 out of 5
28 Weeks Later 3 out of 5
Three days of the Condor 3 out of 5
Deja Vu 4 out of 5
Apocalypto 4 out of 5

Run Fat Boy, Run 2 out of 5
The Darjeeling Limited 3 out of 5
Blade 3: Trinity 2 out of 5
Separate Lies 3 out of 5
Charlie Wilson's War 4 out of 5
The Other Boleyn Girl 2 out of 5
Red Eye 3 out of 5
S.W.A.T 2 out of 5
Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium 3 out of 5
Rendition 4 out of 5
In the Valley of Elah 4 out of 5

Miss Potter 3 out of 5
The Kingdom 3 out of 5
The Dark Knight 5 out of 5

Margot at the Wedding 3 out of 5
Hellboy 3 out of 5
The Accused 3 out of 5
Derailed 2 out of 5
Definitely, Maybe 3 out of 5
Dan in Real Life 4 out of 5
Michael Collins 3 out of 5
Tropic Thunder 3 out of 5

Gone Baby Gone 5 out of 5
I am Legend 3 out of 5
Quantum of Solace 3 out of 5
The Upside of Anger 4 out of 5
The Savages 4 out of 5

Junebug 3 out of 5
The Brothers Grimm 3 out of 5
Surviving Christmas 1 out of 5
Iron Man 2 out of 5
Seabiscuit 3 out of 5
Sky High 3 out of 5
Nicholas Nickleby 3 out of 5
Wallace and Grommit and the Curse of the Were Rabbit 3 out of 5


Films Watched in 2007

The Devil Wears Prada 3 out of 5
Poseidon 2 out of 5
Blood Diamond 4 of out 5

Marie Antoinetee 3 out of 5
The Last King of Scotland 4 out of 5

The Departed 3 out of 5
The Good Shepherd 2 out of 5
Cheaper by the Dozen 2 out of 5
The Last Kiss 3 out of 5
Little Children 5 out of 5

The Three Burials of Melquidas Estrada 3 out of 5
The Illusionist 3 out of 5
Night at the Museum 2 out of 5
Music and Lyrics 3 out of 5
Amazing Grace 3 out of 5
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 4 out of 5
Joe Somebody 3 out of 5
A Perfect Murder 2 out of 5
Sunshine 3 out of 5
Raising Helen 2 out of 5
Knocked Up 4 out of 5
Atonement 5 out of 5
White Oleander 3 out of 5
Notes on a Scandal 4 out of 5
The Affair of the Necklace 2 out of 5
Becoming Jane 3 out of 5
Hitch 3 out of 5
The Wind that Shakes the Barely 4 out of 5
Spider Man 3 out of 5
Lions for Lambs 4 out of 5
Bobby 4 out of 5

The Painted Veil 3 of out of 5
The Alamo 2 out of 5
The Perfect Score 2 out of 5
The Bourne Ultimatum 5 out of 5

Say Anything 4 out of 5
Showtime 2 out of 5
Cold Creek Manor 2 out of 5
In My Father's Den 5 out of 5
The Golden Compass 3 out of 5
The Motorcycle Diaries 3 out of 5
The Terminal 1 out of 5
Transformers 2 out of 5


Disappointed with Golden Compass

Last night I saw the Golden Compass and was very disappointed. The reviews I have read are right. It's a poor film of a great book. It begins with a prologue, which in Lord of the Rings was necessary, but here felt unnecessary. The whole film is attempt to make everyone completely sure they know what is happening and why, which makes it boring. The book then jumps from scene to scene without any chance for a scene to breathe, so you don't get to know any character. The acting was fine, though not sure about the boy who played Roger. The attack on the Christian faith is so underplayed that it becomes annoying. For example at the end of the book, Lord Asriel explains to Lyra about dust and refers to the Genesis 2 narrative of Adam and Eve's disobedience. This is central to the story later as Lyra is modelled as a new Eve character. In the film this is reduced to Mrs Coulter mentioning some people long ago disobeying the Authority. I can't believe Pullman, as reported, is happy with the film. The writer and director, Chris Weitz did a good job on adapting About A Boy
for film, but here you just feel he's out of his league. The celebrated playwright and screenwriter, Tom Stoppard apparently wrote a draft screenplay, but it got rejected, I can't believe it was worse than this.


... All things Harry

I finished reading the final HP novel last week. There was much I enjoyed. My favourite chapter was The Prince's Tale, because the journey and story of that particular character has been the one that always interested me the most. Ben Myers is asking people to discuss the theology of JK.  The HP story has been great and although Rowling perhaps does not write as well as Tolkien or Pullman, there is I think within the stories as much to explore with regards to theology, philosophy and ethics. The final novel was a good way to end the series. It was more than simply an unravelling of the many threads, it also had a story in itself - again the backstory (the history behind the death hallows and the story of Dumbledore) fascinated me. It is in fact the story of the past that I found most engaging in each book - the little snipets in each book. The final chapter I would have left out. It was unnecessary.

I also watched the latest HP film today. And it was pleasing to see the series getting better and better. The choice of having a different director each time has brought a freshness to the last three films and the screenwriting in this one was in the main the best so far. I thought the portrayal of Dolores Umbridge was especially well-written and well-acted. I wish that each film was followed by an extended DVD version as was the case with the LOTR films. Like in some many films you notice the editing and sometimes I wish a few more scenes were allowed to breathe. I think this is the shortest running time in the HP films so far. The final explanation scene between Harry and Dumbledore could have done with being longer, as could the scenes between Harry and Snape, especially the one where Harry sees Snape's memories.


Forthcoming Films ...

Lots of new trailers out for autumn films. These are five I'm looking forward to:

1. The Golden Compass - the first part of Philip Pullman's trilogy His Dark Materials 

2. Margot at the Wedding - the new Noah Baumbach film (he previously wrote and directed the excellent 'The Squid and the Whale') starring Nicole Kidman, Jennifier Jason Leigh and Jack Black

3. Lions for Lambs - the new Robert Redford film which looks like a political thriller with Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep and Robert Redford

4. August Rush

5. Invasion - Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig in alien thriller


Thundercats are Ho!

Thundercatspicture1a_2 The cartoons of my youth all seem to be finding their way to the big screen these days. This summer its Transformers and the news just in is Warner Bros are looking at a Thundercats script. Will this mean Bravestarr, Belle and Sebastian, Willy Fogg, Dogtanian and MASK (which if you didn't already know is an acronym for the Mobile Armored Strike Kommand!!) also ripe for a cinema comeback?


Little Children

200pxlittle_children_poster_2Little Children is written and directed by Todd Field, whose previous film was In the Bedroom.  The film is about an affair between Sarah (Kate Winslet) and Brad (Patrick Wilson), who meet in children's park with their children. In the background of the story is a subplot about a sex offender who is living in the area and the reactions to him. This is
a brilliant film, well-written and well acted. The characters have depth and there are some brilliant moments. I recommend you rent it.


more on Blood Diamond

This is a violent film, the wanton destruction of life I found difficult to watch. This is not the popcorn violence of Bad Boys 2 or Mr and Mrs Smith.  Having seen the film and now watching the news about a third murder in South London of a young person, you are left searching for answers. Surely the answer is not to open two more prisons. The recent stories of  African countries - Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Dafur, Zimbabwe are stories of violence, of senseless violence. How do we respond to this violence? Blood Diamond is not a horror film, but there is something horrific about scenes involving children playing soliders. Here we see children given the ability to take life, who are told that a gun will give them the respect.  Again this is the reality of some children's lives, and we encourage children to literally play games (the latest being a supposedly 'Christian' game). Brodie gives one way of responding.