Christianity in the Movies
This post has been somewhat inspired by Corey Poff’s guest posts here at TG on the Netflix series “Daredevil.” I’ll go ahead and say upfront that I haven’t watched Daredevil but I have been enjoying Corey’s analysis and I might have to binge the series sometime over the summer. That said, in both Part 1 & Part 2, Corey notes the important role that Murdock’s faith plays to the story. Murdock is a devout Catholic and his conversations with his priest offer an integral role to the plot (or so I’m told by Corey).
Corey’s post got me thinking about something you might have noticed as well. Why is it that when a character’s Christian faith plays a significant role in a movie or series the character is always Catholic? I can’t seem to put my finger on any particular movie scene right now so I might be completely off on all this BUT, it seems to me that this is almost always the case. Rarely, if ever, have I seen a character in a movie who is a Christian meet with the pastor of their non-denominational church who wears skinny-jeans and a graphic tee at a trendy coffee shop in a recently gentrified part of town.
NO, it’s always a Catholic priest, and I think there is a reason for this. Moreover, I don’t think I disagree with the reason.
Non-denominational or “relevant” Christianity has capitulated to the culture of secularism to such a degree that it has ceased to be distinct. When Murdock or any other character sits down with a priest on a park bench or in a confessional you know what’s going on, even if you don’t know what’s being said. If the T.V.’s on “mute” then you still know what’s happening.
Flip the scene. Imagine for a moment that Murdock from Daredevil, or any character whose Christian faith plays an important role, attended a “lights & drums” non-denominational Christian church where the pastor is “hip.” Mute the television as the character and their pastor meet in a coffee shop. Is the same message communicated? Of course not.
Now, I’m not a Catholic, but I think there is something to see from what the movies pick up on. When a movie character’s faith is going to play a central role in the story there should be something distinct and different about their faith from the surrounding mis-en-scene. Put shortly, directors know the importance of the setting to create the right scene. Directors know that form matters. It should go without saying that the content of conversation is important to the story. However, directors also know that the costume and setting play just as important a role.
Ironically, this is not something that Christians pick up on much anymore. All too often we believe that externals are not important. Style, language, and form are deemed entirely subjective to most Christians. Most Christians believe that form and content have no relationship to each other. While Hollywood certainly has much to learn from the Christian story, I think this might be one example where many modern Christians can learn something from Hollywood: FORM MATTERS!
Food for thought.