On bad films, and films with bad things in…

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I watched a terrible film recently. Truly awful. Even though it had Dominic Cooper, Hattie Morahan and Dan Stevens in, it was irritatingly mind numbing, like a GCSE play that you friend is in and you know you have to sit through. Except I didn’t sit through it, I turned it off half way through.

Now there was nothing particularly offensive in that film. There was no blood, no gore, no real swearing, no sex (well up until the bit where I turned it off, I can’t comment on the second half…). But it got me thinking – when is it OK to turn a film off?

Would you turn a film off because it had violence in? Because there were scenes of a ‘naked or sexual nature’? What about if there was destruction? Is it ungodly to watch films with outlandish sin in? What about watching a film that reveals the effects of sin? Where are the boundaries? What are the rules?

I asked a friend who was over to supper last night and she mentioned watching a ‘bad’ film recently – bad because of the content of it, not the quality.  I said would it be bad to make a film about cancer? Cancer is an effect of the fall. It’s an effect of man putting two fingers up to God. Cancer isn’t good. So would you watch a film about it? ‘Well yeah’ came the response, ‘but I guess its not all bad, good things can be seen through it’. Then we chatted about what can be classed as ‘biblical’ in a film. The Old Testament, if it was made into a proper film, would be rated 18. Rape, murder, adultery, Philistine foreskins being traded for peace. You name it, it’s in there. Its dark and murderous and evil, ‘every inclination of the thought’s of man’s heart was only evil all the time’. The Bible is not PG. And yet God’s plan for salvation shines through the broken fragments of a fallen world.

Fragments of good can be seen through the darkest of scenarios. Reflections of glory can be hungered after in the depths of suffering. Light is sometimes recognised in it’s absence, rather than its presence.  In the midst of the plagues of Egypt God calls His people to freedom from slavery. In the brokenness of rebellion God pursues His Church like an unrelenting husband. In Golgotha, the place of the skull, Jesus Christ defeated death.

So next time you watch a film that shocks you, think about it. What is the darkness revealing? Where is the light shining through? What is good and God-glorifying about this film? How does it reflect the image of the God who made us? How does it make me hunger after my Redeemer?

NB: I am not advocating a blind, undiscerning attitude to watching films. Last lent I game up Rom Coms – click here to see why.

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