2cornucopias

Christians in the Movies

In 08 Book Corner on 2014/07/06 at 12:00 AM

Dr. Peter Dans has written a remarkable book entitled Christians in the Movies. Dans, a medical professor at the Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore, formerly wrote a well-received volume about Hollywood’s portrayal of doctors from 1931 – 2000. As a serious Catholic and long-time film aficionado, he decided to do the same for Christians.

Dans selected over 200 Christian-themed films produced from 1905 – 2005 and organized them by decade, with a brief historical overview for each section. Although he liked most of the films, he also included films that attacked Christians. In this way he was able to trace the steady decline, with some notable exceptions, of the generally positive film portrayal of Christian until, as he puts it, “all that orthodox clergy and believers were either vicious predators or narrow-minded, mean spirited Pharisees.”

Dans includes plenty of photos along with the plots and his analysis. And happily virtually all of the films are available on DVD. Doing his part to inspire a counter-revolution, Dans writes, “I also hope it will encourage orthodox Christians believers who have stopped going to the movies to get more involved in helping to shape this important industry, which all agree has badly lost its way.”

Joseph Bottum sets the stage in a Chestertonian turn in the foreword: “Film is a divided art. It wants to be spiritual even while it tries itself to be earthly. It wants to make the divine comedy even while filming the human comedy.” A worthy participant in the ongoing battle for the culture, Dans’ book should find a prominent place in every family’s home theatre.

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