Christine Johnson reviews Douglas M. Beaumont's book that discusses how faithful Christians can analyze movies and TV shows.
There are so many choices when it comes to movies and TV shows these days. We are no longer in the days of three or four channels on TV and a seven-year rotation of Disney cartoons being re-released. Now, you can watch almost anything at any time, depending on what kind of streaming services you have.
But just because you can watch anything at any time doesn’t mean you should watch anything at any time. As Christians, we need to be careful about what kind of movies and shows we expose ourselves to. What this looks like, though, can vary from one person to another.
Enter Douglas M. Beaumont and his book The Message Behind the Movie—Reboot: Engaging film without Disengaging Faith. This handy book discusses how faithful Christians can analyze movies (and TV shows, too). I’ve written before about how sometimes a show we think will insult or offend our faith actually can do a lot to lift it up. TV shows like The Good Place are far from theologically perfect, but can be uplifting, anyway. Movies like Shallow Hal can be a little crude, but have an overall message that emphasizes the inherent dignity of all people (and that people are beautiful for what’s on the inside, not the outside).
Beaumont peppers his book with some apologetics in between discussions of different kinds of themes and messages that we can discern in various movies, using a wide variety of films from over the years to demonstrate his points. There is a point in the book where he dedicates a chapter or two of the book to apologetics. While I understand his desire to share the Faith, I also felt like it interrupted the general flow of the book. However, he talks about films that promote a message without being too overt about it, as opposed to what we see in so many Christian films: the message is so forward that the story and characters suffer because of it. Beaumont demonstrates that a Christian message can be contained in a film that isn’t going to merely preach to the choir but will reach a larger audience.
I really enjoyed the book quite a bit, and even though I’ve been aware of a lot of his points in the past, he brought up things I’d never considered (or merely didn’t know how to put into words). Also helpful was his breakdown of good storytelling, from the timeless three-act story to the breakdown of the Hero’s Journey and how it applies to modern movies. Yet Beaumont always defers to each individual’s conscience and preferences, even as he challenges Christians to expand their horizons and consider watching something outside of their usual comfort zones.
I can definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to understand how to discern modern films from a faith perspective. The Message Behind the Movie can give us all insights into how to enjoy movies that might stretch our comfort zone. Sometimes you can find something really good in an unexpected place.
Copyright 2022 Christine Johnson
About the Author
Christine Johnson has been married to Nathan since 1993 and is the mother of two homeschool graduates. She and Nathan live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia, where she tries to fit in as a transplanted Yank. She blogs at Domestic Vocation about her life as a wife, mother, and Lay Dominican.