I’ve been in the movie industry for over forty years, first as a character actor and today as a screenwriter and director. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would one day work in this wonderful medium. Yet that is the direction my life took after receiving Christ many years ago. I learned my craft from the head of the drama department at the University of Miami and am a thirty-five year member of Screen Actors Guild as a professional film actor and am a former member of the American Film Institute.
Loving this visual medium like I do, I’ve watched hundreds of movies over the years. I go not only to be entertained, but to learn the latest innovations of the trade. Today I’m poised to make an overtly evangelical film to promote the kingdom of God in these the final days of the “Last Days.”
Having been raised in a secular home I began going to movies at the age of eight. Saturday matinees with double features and a couple of cartoons were magical. My best friend, Gary Miller, and I would somehow find the money to go every weekend. Back then the Lone Ranger and Hopalong Cassidy were our two cowboy heroes. They inevitably caught the bad guys and taught us that good always triumphed over evil.
Initially visual arts were used by the church, first with paintings and then with morality plays on stage. Many people back then could not read nor write and this was the best way to communicate with the masses. Today, movies are a powerful medium that reaches the masses for good or for ill. Movies can directly influence many people with their content. Making money from this form of entertainment is the main objective of making movies, and filmmakers have exploited every deviant human behavior there is to make tons of it.
Murder, mayhem, lust, criminality, homosexuality and ill-gotten-gain are the themes of most movies. So much so, that we’ve become jaded, and nothing titillates us anymore. A number of us are getting burned out on all of the sex and killing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked out of a movie theatre because of the garbage being shown on screen.
The critics mercilessly panned the movie, Left Behind. But I believe it was more because of the spiritual content, however weak, than the storyline. Surprisingly, some of the critics knew enough about the Bible to know about the Rapture, and were right in some instances in that Left Behinddidn’t go far enough in explaining why some people were left behind.
But worse than that is they didn’t tell you how to keep from being left behind, nor did the movie tell that those left behind will have to go through the Tribulation period—the very worst time in world history; a time when even hardened military leaders will be filled with terror and hide in caves. No, that part wasn’t in the movie, but it’s all right there in the Good Book along with the Rapture.
Having said that, if you’re going to make a message movie, then for God’s sake make the message clear. Evangelistic films need to reach out with unadulterated truth directly from the Bible if we’re going to have an impact on society, even if it means we have to be politically incorrect.
While it’s true that some Christian movies are hokey and aren’t very substantive, it’s only because Christians have only recently started making movies. In the not too distant past it was even considered a sin to go to a movie theater. Today it is a legitimate form of entertainment for us all, and who doesn’t need a break from life’s harsh realities?
Many people today are seeking answers for why the world is becoming more and more chaotic. Some are seekers of truth; that which Jesus is, while others couldn’t care less about where life is taking them. Still others act is if nothing is happening, and they continue to live life as usual. Apparently they haven’t read the Scriptures or watched the daily news.
Even some so-called Christians are clueless! It may take a knock on their door by the hate speech police, Sharia police or now, even Ebola police. That’s putting it mildly, chances are they will break your door down and drag you out of bed in the middle of the night. People have to know what’s coming down the pike and also how to avoid being left behind. Movies are a very powerful medium and should be exploited to the fullest by serious evangelicals.
There is a new movie soon to be released based on a true story about a young man who overcomes many trials as a prisoner of war because of his faith. I would applaud such a film except that it is never made clear that the hero is a born-again Christian, which he claims to be.
Oh , and a new movie, Exodus is due out real soon. I hope it is better than the fairy tale movie Noah.
And no, Left Behind was not The Passion of the Christ but as an entertaining vehicle it was not that bad. I’ve seen worse.