Skip to comments.Hollywood puts its faith in holy films
Posted on 04/22/2006 11:06:02 PM PDT by Pikamax
Hollywood puts its faith in holy films John Harlow, Los Angeles
HOLLYWOOD, long accused of promoting Godless amorality, has found religion. Studio executives are praying that a flood of Christian films will rescue them from a slump by performing miracles at the multiplex.
Inspired by The Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibsons vision of the crucifixion, which earned £400m at the box office, Hollywood is directing Oscar-winning stars such as Hilary Swank and William Hurt to show their spiritual side on screen.
First into the cinemas will be The Da Vinci Code, starring Tom Hanks and Audrey Tatou, due for release next month. Some Catholics, upset by the plot of Dan Browns novel about Vatican conspiracies, are threatening to picket the film.
Other Christian-themed films due out later this year are more likely to suit their tastes. Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje, a London-born actor who plays Eko in the television series Lost, will play a charismatic minister winning over Harlem gangsters in Preaching to the Choir.
Hurt will be seen this summer as an equally inspired minister trying to hold his flock and family together in The King. James Marsh, the director, said he wanted to get away from stale portraits of priests as hypocrites or fanatics and show how tough it is to lead a good life.
The same issue is addressed in The Reaping, in which Swank, returning to the big screen after winning her second Oscar for Million Dollar Baby, plays a disillusioned missionary investigating a series of plagues in Louisiana that seem straight out of the Old Testament.
A potential Christmas blockbuster is Nativity. The 16-year-old Australian actress Keisha Castle-Hughes, nominated for an Oscar for Whale Rider three years ago, portrays the Virgin Mary travelling to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus.
JJ Abrams, who created Lost, the series in which spiritual questions often arise, believes religion is highly topical. Given all the conflict in the world inflamed by religion there is a real hunger for films that deal with these issues in fresh ways, he said.
For the first time in half a century, studios are test-screening films in front of religious leaders rather than teenagers. They are also paying pastors and rabbis as consultants.
Studios are reaching out to grassroots community leaders to discuss films even before the script is finished: this would not have happened a few years ago, said a former executive at Grace Hill Media, which specialises in connecting Hollywood with religious leaders.
Some films nevertheless challenge the evangelical tide. New Line studio snapped up His Dark Materials, the fantasy trilogy by the Oxford writer Philip Pullman, thinking it was the next Harry Potter. But Christians took umbrage at its depiction of an ageing and feeble God.
Tom Stoppards script was described as heretical and the original director, Chris Weitz, who co-directed About a Boy, resigned after admitting he had removed negative references to God and the Catholic Church.
A Hollywood remake of the British cult film The Wicker Man remains in the balance as scriptwriters seek to modernise the film. In the 1973 version Scottish pagans triumph over Christianity, but the remake, starring Nicolas Cage, has to avoid offending 75m Americans who describe themselves as born again.
No such finessing was needed for a reality series that premiered on American television last week. Called Girl or God, it follows would-be priests preparing to end relationships and enter seminary. They wanted to call it Original Sin, but discovered that was the title of an erotic thriller starring Anglina Jolie.
Hollywood is so "religious" to follow up two Christian movies that do well it releases a movie claiming Jesus is a liar and a fraud. Oh yeah, that's faith all right.
Would Hollywood consider "Dogma" to be a religious movie? After all, it had religious themes, and sort of a happy ending...
Much as they clearly haven't "gotten it" yet, this could be a start to something better. I'm actually encouraged. It'll take years, but you have to start somewhere.
Hollywood, in a desperate attempt to fit in with the religious crowd and make money off of them, is shouting "Oh, GOD! GOD!!" with all the sincerity of Woody Allen at a Klan rally.
Next: "Vegan films": Supersize Burger and Meet the Beefeaters.
"Jewish films": Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and Hamas Heroes.
"Black films": Birth of a Nation, and David Duke, Man of Destiny
Not necessarily. I don't often go to movies but I do buy them. I just bought "Memoirs of a Geisha" which is a Spielburg film and have watched it three times. I have the 2 disc version. The values expressed in the film are good ones and it is entertaining.
The commentary on the second disc is simply wonderful showing how the set was built and various shots were done, some with mind boggling technology. You know, the technology that American film makers are known world wide for ... the stuff we see but don't notice because we are so enchanted with the film.
American movies can make dreams come true ... not many countrie's films even attempt the feats that we do. American innovation at its best.
And I bought all 4 seasons of 24. I got hooked and watched them one after one at home ... actually while I was playing online. Kiefer Sutherland is terrific as Agent Jack Bauer saving the US and on call for the President.
If you get them be sure and watch the extras ... more of that American moviemaking know how!
The Passion of the Christ (which presented an orthodox Christian message straight out of the Gospels) succeeds, so they decide they need "religious" films. And they come up with:
Yeah, that's the same thing.
Ah yeah, religious people with feet of clay, there's a new theme for Hollyweird. Not.
I can see the meeting now. "Like the exorcist, but the priest is like a girl, see... and there are bugs and frogs and stuff...pass the bong."
Except, see, in this version she's like a single mother, and all the three kings are hitting on her.
Translation: you losers in Jesusland going to church are the same thing as Zarkawi and his head-sawing lost souls.
"[S]tudios are... paying pastors and rabbis as consultants."
Translation: "Of course we can bribe those guys."
"Some films nevertheless challenge the evangelical tide."
My, how courageous of them, to stand up against religious orthodoxy, as expressed by The Da Vinci Code.
What are these films like?
Yep. Business as usual for Hollywood. "Heretical" gets the green light, but the guy that took heresy out -- he'll never have lunch in this town again. That Communion wafer's gonna have to hold him all week.
"They wanted to call it Original Sin." Gee, where do these people get all this creativity and imagination? I suppose it's the drugs.
If you're waiting for Original Anything, looks like the wait continues.
Criminal Number 18F
Bullshit. In Hollywood's America:
Hollywood presents a nihilistic and inverted view of the real world. Its values are corrosive to civil society; it seethes with hatred of all that is good, decent and productive, and trumpets a giddy fanfare to all that is evil and damaging.
You think this is the essence of America?
But hey, they make a profit.
Criminal Number 18F
no thanks to 1st century gnostic myths pushed by a Bible-hating press. I'll stick to the Word of God anytime!
Agreed. Let Hollywood stick to exploding body parts, rather than soil religious themes.
I believe they do. They also consider "Saved" (2004, with Mandy Moore, about Christian school students) as religous movie, or at least "movie with religious-theme".