Wednesday, November 22, 2006

thefilmtheorist vs. thefilmcritic

In case you are wondering why I chose "theorist" over "critic" (admit it, you haven't been able to sleep at night pondering the great mysteries and depths to my name!), then read this article.

Thanks to our good friends at Wikipedia, I have discovered myself why I chose the name I did. I guess it fits. I've never really enjoyed traditional film criticism. The reason, I guess, is because I don't agree with the basic presupposition most film critics begin at.

Most critics think that a movie is a good movie if it accomplishes what it set out to do. For example, a comedy is a good movie if it is a good comedy. But by this reasoning, American Pie, no matter what moral issues one might have with it, is a good movie because it accomplished what it set out to do.

This idea is completely foolish. That's why I don't trust film critics. Not even the "Christian film critics". On one hand you have people reviewing movies only focused on how many profane words it includes and how much offensive behavior it contains. Don't get me wrong, we need to prepare ourselves in case a movie is so debased it's just not worth seeing.

Yet at the polar opposite in Christian film criticism are those who completely ignore moral issues, calling a movie like "A History of Violence" a good movie, despite the violently graphic sex scene.

Where do we as Christians draw the line? Where do we expose ourselves to the world's art to combat ungodly worldviews? There's no fine line. But what I think is obvious is to NEVER violate your own convictions and standards. If a movie is offensive to you, don't watch it, no matter how uncultured you are labeled. Yet we should not live in fear of the evil world out to get us through art and culture.

"We destroy arguments and every pretension raised against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ." 2 Cor. 10:5

This includes our art and entertainment choices. I choose to watch some movies whose worldview is completely ungodly simply so I can understand where a person is coming from, and be prepared to combat that worldview.

How does this relate to film theory vs. film criticism? Film theory examines a movie as a whole, not simply focusing on a "good" vs. "bad" movie, examining the movie only on the surface, but in my terminology, digging deep into the heart and soul of a movie and determining whether or not the movie agrees with my worldview.

Sorry for the epic post, but obviously this is something I am passionate about. Movies are the untapped art form for the Church. We are just beginning to understand how effective they can be, and get serious about making them. But the movies that are being made are still surface-level movies that are barely watchable. We give them a pass because they are "Christian films", but in artistic quality they pale in comparison to the films the world is producing.

When is a film going to be made that is as thought-provoking and emotionally stimulating as Forrest Gump, yet is based on a Christian worldview?

I am trying. And I encourage the rest of you who love movies and stories to write as well. You are needed.

Don't focus on surface-level, supposedly evangelistic stories that no one ever responds to. Dig deep. Do the hard work.

Let the story spring from the depths of your soul.


Blogger amanda. said...

Finally! I can rest at night. The theorist versus critic was the bane of my existence for a while there.
I have to admit I didn't really read the rest of this. I will but my brain can't process your posts at 3AM

3:04 AM  
Blogger cylentlark3535 said...

I told you.... It's what I'm here for... I exist to allow all of my bloggers (all 4 of you) to sleep at night... Now that that's settled, on to tackling more of the mysteries of the universe...

1:37 PM  

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