HOLLYWOOD (BP)–Good news: four Christian feature films were released earlier this year in major theaters four weeks in a row, one after another.
The not-so-good news is that a few in the secular press tried to devalue these redemptive movies by smearing them with the ephemeral claim that they lack production quality.
This is not so. Looking at any of these movies, “The Amati Girls,” which won the Heartland Film Festival, “The Champion,” “Left Behind” or “The Road to Redemption,” they have high production quality, considering their low budgets.
What the secular press is attacking, of course, is the fact that these are major movies made by Christians with Christian messages — messages that the secular press has been taught to hate by the modern cynics and jaded pseudo-intellectuals in our midst.
Regrettably, too many church folks have bought the lie, and so they think Christian movies are inferior.
This is definitely not the case.
MOVIEGUIDE (r) reviews 270-290 movies every year, every movie that is nationally released at the box office. Most of these movies, such as Sylvester Stallone’s “Get Carter,” are mediocre at best. There are a lot of pathetic movies with bad production quality with big stars in them and yet we don’t hear the press critiquing their production quality.
Orthodox Jewish movie critic Michael Medved says that his former TV co-reviewer Jeffrey Lions confided to him just before they went on the air to critique “The Last Temptation of Christ” that he (Jeffrey) knew it was a poorly produced movie, but “we have to stand together against the Christian fundamentalists, so we need to give it a good review.” Although Michael refused to go along with this nasty conspiracy to attack the Christian faith, this type of “us versus the Christians” bigotry occurs all too often among secular reviewers.
Furthermore, the secular press says things about Christian movies which are just not true. The fact of the matter is that Christians have made great films over the years, beginning with the very earliest years of moviemaking. For instance, the great Cecil B. DeMille made the magnificent “King of Kings” in 1927 — and he had the production crew and cast pray every morning before they shot any film! Outside of the Hollywood club, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has produced many excellent movies, including “The Hiding Place,” which a leading rabbi, Daniel Lapin, says is his favorite holocaust movie.
Therefore, are Christian movies inferior?
No, not in the least. Some of them are excellent. Most of them are in the mid-range, because their makers don’t get up to bat that often. But even so, these movies, by and large, are much better than many of the independent movies we review every year, including some of the most highly touted independent movies that the secular press likes to drool over, such as the end-of-the-year Oscar contender “You Can Count on Me.” (That movie was a solid three-star film, but nowhere near as great as many critics tried to make their readers believe.)
So, I urge believers not to buy the cynical, jaded lie which dismisses all Christian productions. Stand behind the good productions that are coming out of the Christian community and stop undermining those who are obeying Jesus’ command to herald the good news to the people in the marketplace of ideas!
Baehr is the founder and chairman of the Christian Film and Television Commission and MOVIEGUIDE (R), a family magazine and radio and TV program that reviews movies from a biblical perspective, and the author of “The Media-Wise Family.”