Five Films for People of Faith

Lately, Hollywood has given Christians some great stuff worth watching. I recommend the five films listed below, all of which are based on true stories. 

A Hidden Life –  My favorite book ending in the Western canon of literature is the close of George Eliot’s Middlemarch

Dorothea’s full nature, like that river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.

Director Terrence Malick (Tree of Life) has borrowed from Eliot the phrase “a hidden life” and used it for the title of this work of art. The film tells the story of Austrian farmer Franz Jägerstätter, who faces the threat of execution for refusing to fight for the Nazis during World War II. The cinematography, the music, the wisdom, the complex themes, the parallels to where many evangelicals border on Marxism today… so compelling, relevant, and beautiful. This film provides an inspiring, in-depth exploration of many kinds of pressures applied to tempt people to violate their consciences and the rationales for doing so. The presentation of faith content is handled superbly.

Two Popes – Popes don’t retire—until they do. The film “Two Popes” (starring Anthony Hopkins) takes viewers behind the Vatican walls, where Pope Benedict and the future Pope Francis must find common ground to forge a new path for the Catholic Church. At the center of their conversations is the meaning of Christ’s teachings.

Harriet – In this biographic film, Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery and returns to liberate hundreds through the Underground Railroad. She points to God as her source of strength. For her role as Tubman, Cynthia Erivo received nominations at the Academy AwardsGolden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild; the film also received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song (“Stand Up”).

Tolkien – As a young student, J.R.R. Tolkien finds love, friendship and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow outcasts. Their brotherhood soon strengthens as Tolkien weathers the storm of a tumultuous courtship and the outbreak of World War I. These early experiences later inspire the author to write the classic fantasy novels “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings.” The faith themes in this film are less present than in the others listed, but so many Christians love Tolkien and his work that it’s great to get some of the author’s backstory. 

Just Mercy – After graduating from Harvard, Bryan Stevenson heads to Alabama to defend those wrongly condemned or those not afforded proper representation. Why? Because “do justice” is part of what God requires from humanity. One of Stevenson’s first cases is that of Walter McMillian, who is sentenced to die in 1987 for the murder of an 18-year-old girl, despite evidence proving his innocence. In the years that follow, Stevenson encounters racism and legal and political maneuverings as he tirelessly fights for McMillian’s life. In the showing I attended, this one left the audience cheering. 

We have lots of great content from which to choose. So, why not invite a friend, watch a good flick, and follow it up with some meaningful discussion?

Sandra Glahn, who holds a Master of Theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) and a PhD in The Humanities—Aesthetic Studies from the University of Texas/Dallas, is a professor at DTS. This creator of the Coffee Cup Bible Series (AMG) based on the NET Bible is the author or coauthor of more than twenty books. She's the wife of one husband, mother of one daughter, and owner of two cats. Chocolate and travel make her smile. You can follow her on Twitter @sandraglahn ; on FB /Aspire2 ; and find her at her web site: aspire2.com.

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