Archive for Saturday, June 11, 2011

Faith Forum: What’s your favorite movie with religious undertones?

June 11, 2011


The Rev. Rob Baldwin, pastor, Trinity Episcopal Church, 1011 Vt.:

There are so many great movies to choose from, but certainly one of the more thought-provoking films with religious undertones is “Jesus of Montreal” (1989). 

Lothaire Bluteau stars as Daniel, an avante garde actor living in Montreal who is approached by a local Roman Catholic Church to revise their Passion Play production during Holy Week. Together with several of his friends, Daniel begins to explore the history of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

As you might imagine, the production is not without controversy. Slowly, however, the troupe’s lives begin to parallel Jesus’ and the disciples’ own. I do not want to ruin the ending, but the final minutes of the film are wonderful and well worth the wait.

In addition to its wit and humor, “Jesus of Montreal” engages in an examination of some of the brutal realities of Jesus’ death a good decade before Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” as well as questions raised by contemporary Biblical scholarship regarding the historical Jesus. The troupe’s own spiritual journey through the skepticism and critical examination of the Passion provides a road map for churches looking to reach out to an unchurched but well-educated community.

Before you view the film in your adult Sunday School class a word of warning: the film does feature brief nudity and is in French with English subtitles. “Jesus of Montreal” was nominated in 1989 for an Oscar for Best Foreign Film.

— Send e-mail to the Rev. Rob Baldwin at

The Rev. David Rivers, senior pastor, First Christian Church, 1000 Ky.:

As I pondered this question, I noticed that many of the movies I watch have religious undertones. Some are in your face and purposeful while others leave you ruminating on the story line. If I had to pick just one, I would choose “The Book of Eli.”

Set in post-apocalyptic times, Eli is called to carry a vital book that has immeasurable value. This book from the previous world is believed to have all the answers humanity needs. Therefore, they will go to any length to get it, including violence.

The power of the movie is in the internalization of the call of Eli. Through the toughest of circumstances, his single minded focus and care for this book resounds. As one waits for the final scenes to see this ancient book opened, a surprise erupts. This book, the one that all people so desire, is in fact empty.

Eli has carried a copy of the Bible in which when finally opened, is blank. No writing or pictures, just dots. And the value of this sacred book is not the book; rather, the value is in the one who carries it. Eli gives up his copy of the Bible for it is not needed. Internalized and memorized, the final scenes reveal Eli reciting it verbatim to the awaiting group who desire to restore the world.

The power of this movie is the deep-rootedness of the text in Eli’s life. In a world in which we can make the Bible an idol, the way in which he internalizes the scriptures stands in contrast to those who want it to use to control others. They believe the book has all power and answers. And yet, when faced with empty pages, their demise is clear. Which makes me ponder, how do we use these sacred scriptures?

— Send email to David Rivers at


devobrun 4 years, 5 months ago

Mine is "An Inconvenient Truth". Prophets proclaim sin and salvation. Fear and guilt are ever present in the film and evil is defined. All the trappings of religion are unveiled and you leave the film with emotions similar to those you have when you leave a church service.......resolve to be better.

It is a powerful film whose appeal to the spiritual needs of people could be right out of any Joseph Campbell description of the religious experience.He said: "God is a metaphor for that which trancends all levels of intellectual thought. It's as simple as that."

Environmentalism, as depicted in the film, is transcendent of reason. It places science in juxtaposition with starving Andean children. It makes you feel and justifies your feeling with computer models. It is briliant religiosity.

Bill Getz 4 years, 5 months ago

The original "Poseidon Adventure" with Gene Hackman as the mosaic character.

RoeDapple 4 years, 5 months ago

"Book of Eli". Denzel Washington kicks a$$ whatever movie he is in

FloridaSunshine 4 years, 5 months ago

Roe, I agree...Denzel Washington is an amazing actor. And you may not agree with this (snicker), but his smile can take the heart beat up a notch or two! Wow.

shadowlady 4 years, 5 months ago

It's not a movie yet, but according to the internet they are supposed to make it into a movie, which I hope they do, the book is called "The Shack", excellent book. It's about a man that meets up with the Trinity, "God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit", in a shack, when he losses his daughter, by someone kidnapping her. The moral is in the end all about forgiveness.

FloridaSunshine 4 years, 5 months ago

deec...I haven't heard of that movie...who is in it?

FloridaSunshine 4 years, 5 months ago

HA!! The joke is on me! I thought you were being facetious, deec, and referring to shadowlady's comment as being dogmatic in some way. (Not everyone threads the way I do...but that's another issue...)

Something kept bugging me about the word, dogma. I googled Dogma just for the heck of it, and there it was...a real, honest-to-goodness movie...and with "religious undertones", as well...!!! SURPRISE for me.... :~) I'm supposin' that tange isn't too taken aback by the movie having religious undertones...but there I go again...supposin' when I shouldn't be.

So, deec, that was my lesson in life for today: "Never jump to conclusions." (Now, if I can only hold on to that lesson...)

Here's the link for Dogma...

FloridaSunshine 4 years, 5 months ago

tange...thanks for the info and the link!

Kendall Simmons 4 years, 5 months ago

Apparently David Rivers didn't realize that those "dots" didn't mean the pages were blank...just that the bible was written in braille.

kernal 4 years, 5 months ago

Forgot about the Last Temptation of Christ. Actually didn't see the movie, but liked the book.

Liberty275 4 years, 5 months ago

Sorry religions guys, but I've gotta go with The Exorcist.

geekin_topekan 4 years, 5 months ago

Wizard of Oz. No wait, that was homosexual undertones.

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