« A Fresh New Start | Main | War Movies »

June 22, 2006



I'm not sure that the movies themselves are as important as the feelings they invoke, and the shared experiences they provide.


Well, I think "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" very accurately portrayed 1/2 my family.

I tend to think that we seek after too much entertainment but I enjoy movies.


Sam Goldwyn once said: "Pictures are for entertainment, messages should be delivered by Western Union." I don't agree with him, I just thought it was funny. Actually, I think that in today's world, movies are becoming the most effective means of getting through to people, at least the vast majority of them. To Sam, I would say: Who wants to take the time to receive a message when you can have one quickly downloaded into you just by sitting in front of a screen?


You may be right about the entertainment thing, George, although I don't think entertainment is inherently a bad thing.

I agree with the Westminster catechism, where it says, "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever."

I do question the way many people seek to "entertain" themselves, though.


Since I am in question mode, so how much is too much entertainment? Are movies inherently entertaining? Is the movie the Matrix entertainment but the book the Chronicles of Narnia theology?


I think it comes down to two things:
1) The intent of the director/writer-Is he/she writing to entertain or to push a political/religious agenda?
2) How you approach the movie.- My experience watching The Passion of Christ was very different than when I saw The Goonies. Why? They were both 'entertainment'. I came into them with different expectations.

I do think that many people draw more from television than many church services. Some of this is the delivery method. Some is the person delivering it (and any baggage they carry with them). The bottom line is taht the average American spends a lot more time watching television than going to church, so it is inevitable that the above quote will be accurate.

Just Me

I am at this moment proctoring an exam for a course entitled "Twentieth Century" which is taught almost exclusively by the use of film - popular film, not documentary. (Hopefully no one is cheating while I type.) Obviously movies reflect the culture in which they are created, they can also teach us about other times and cultures. Even as they entertain, they can't help but send out messages too. I also teach a unit entitled "Reading the Media" which includes "reading" films because they are one of the most significant means of communicating ideas in the 21st c. All of that to (very pedantically)_ say: 1. Good quote; 2. YES; 3. You really don't want to get me started!
P.S. Adam - Shouldn't you be working???


Aaahh. Once a mother, always a mother. lol.


I'm probably in the minority here but the more I think about this the less I think "movies" are important, if you mean "movies" as a whole.

I think there are some important movies, I do agree they reflect the culture, they can also be used as propaganda to try and influence the culture.

I think something like "Band of Brothers" is very important but I would not say that "Goonies" or Farenheit 9/11" are important, one is foolish and the other is a good 80's kids movie.

I think the sad part is that most people spend more time watching TV or movies than they do reading and never learn to think.

Just Me

As someone who spends a LOT more time reading than watching TV and movies combined - like 100 x more - I still think movies are important. Not just when they have something to "say" but for entertainment purposes. Besides that, the very fact that, as you say, people spend more time watching movies than reading makes them an important cultural influence - even (esoecially?)the "kids" movies. In The Truman Show, Christof says: We accept the reality of the world with which we are presented. Whether we like it or not, whether it is as it should be, a reflection of what is, or ..., for many, the world on the screen is what they accept as real. That makes them very important.


I made the really dumb mistake of putting a quote about TV in a post that was meant to be about movies!

I think a lot of TV is pretty dumb and I'm not really into watching it. That doesn't mean it's unimportant to the rest of our culture of course!

One of the things I like about books compared to movies is that the books last longer. I actually prefer long movies to short ones in many ways. I like to get swept up in the alternate world of a story.

Movies combine story, visual images, sound, and music in a way that no other medium does (accept maybe video games). To me, there is definitely much more power in the medium of film than in a sermon, no matter how great the speaker (or message) is.

One key difference between most movies and most TV shows is that there is much more time and energy (and $$$) spent in the making of a movie. I think that's significant.

I'm just reading the quote from The Truman Show and thinking about hwy movies affect me so much. It's not because I'm completely fooled into thinking they represent reality. They do, however, provide a window into ideals, emotions, actions, etc. that only truly impact me as I see them lived out. Sometimes it's because I hate what someone has done. Sometimes it's because I've done the same thing. Sometimes it's because someone has stepped up to the plate and taken a swing when I don't even have my batting helmet on.

Okay that was a really lame analogy. I think my point is that there is a lot of power in story. We often miss that about the Bible. Seeing that story played out in technicolor, with surround sound (and a little help from your friendly neighborhood composer) makes that story that much more powerful.

This is not a very organized comment, but I think I'll just post it as is!


"for many, the world on the screen is what they accept as real. That makes them very important."

Or it just proves that people are nuts. Remember when Gilligan's Island was first broadcast the Coast Guard was getting 40 calls a week from people telling them to go rescue the castaways. (grin)

People read their horoscopes everyday in spite of the fact that we know the world is not flat, that the sun does not revolve around the earth and that the planets are not gods. Yet millions of people read their horoscope and base their daily decisions on what it says. That doesn't make them important (in my book) it just proves we're gullible.

But since you all think movies are important.

Which is more important

Fortune Cookies
Nintendo (or PS2 etc)


lol...cool list to choose from.

I say first fortune cookies because it's the only food you put on there. You have to have food to survive and focus on any of the other things.

Just Me

More important
or in/to the world??
in my life?
or impact on my life?
The way one views your question will very much affect whether he/she gives the "right" answer.

Movies would be VERY far down the list for my personal life (people always come first), but in terms of impact on the culture I live in and am surrounded by? That's a tough one.

Just Me

I closed the internet and turned on Fox News to catch the headlines. The story at the moment I turned it on? "Dept of Homeland Security holds press conference to assure people that they are not '24'." I've never seen 24, but it must be pretty convincingly real!?!?! Pretty Funny.


Jesus. To me personally, and as an evangelical Christian, I want him to be to everyone.

That said, your list fails to quantify your parameters. If all movies disappeared, it would be entirely irrelevant to my life, but it would be extremely significant to a lot of people and the surrounding culture.

As a historian, a culture's art is extremely important to defining/explaining the views/attitudes of that time. As a witness to history and an educational opportunity, Shindler’s List is very important. As a barometer of our culture, movies are very important. Silkwood is as much a reflection of the time it was produced as Rosie the Riveter is of its.

As a parent, what my child watches, wants to watch and knows his friends are watching is very important.

As a youthworker, the impact of movies on teenagers is very important. To the teenager who sees a voice given to their turmoil, movies are very important. To disregard that to the teen is the same as cutting off any voice you would have in their life.

So, movies are important, to some people, culture, history, art, shared experiences, and therefore, in the many roles and responsibilities I have, movies are important to me.


Sorry, that last one was from me. Silly computer.

Just Me

Deb - Changing the direction of this post a little - a question you may have the answer to: What movie of 2005-06 would you say has had the most impact on the kids you work with. What are they/do they talk about the most? I know I need to watch more movies because my "kids" do - What should I have seen?


Just Me: Sorry it took a little while to get back to you, but I wanted to noodle on your question for a bit. There haven't been any stand out films in the last year from a teen perspective (with Breakfast Club impact). The 3 biggies are Napeoleon Dynamite (spelled way off I guess), Chronicles of Narnia and Davinci Code.


Bill, are all the images on your banner reversed? I was wondering why the STOP sign is backwards?


I think it's just because they are mirror images.

Just Me

Deb - To continue our private conversation, Thanks! I did at least see Chronicles - and might have read the books about 500 times to my own kids. Haven't see Da Vinci Code yet - did you? What did you think? I'm not so much "afraid" of its message as I'm afraid that the movie will ruin the book for me. I, too, was trying to think what my "kids" have been seeing - not remembering is part of why I asked you. If you think of any others, just pop me an e-mail. In two more days, I am "FREE" for the summer and should be able to watch a movie without falling asleep in the middle.


No, I haven't seen Da Vinci code. To be honest, I just don't want to throw money that direction, especially since most the reviews were bad. I believe that we (Christians) did more to market and promote that movie than the studio.

The funny thing is that there haven't been a lot of memorable movies recently. There also haven't been any unifying cultural ones either. At some point, I'll have to spend some time in thought about what that means about current history.

One that is comming up is Pirates 2, on July 7. Most jr highers are looking to see that one, so it would be a "don't miss".


I think Crash, Hotel Rwanda, and Walk the Line probably all had a pretty widespread cultural impact, but not necessarily amongst the younger crowds.

With Walk the Line, for example, all of a sudden everyone was listening to Johnny Cash's music. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of teenagers got into it, too.


Oh, and don't forget about Brokeback Mountain.

And King Kong. And X-Men 3.

I'm just kind of guessing on these, of course, as I am out of touch with what's popular among teens.


Maybe, and I'll ask the kids about it, but I don't see how those movies really have the emotional/cultural appeal needed to have that influential appeal on the jr highers. Hotel Rawanda like Shindler's List is more for adults, and Walk the Line has the same appeal as La Bamba. I don't know much about Crash.


None of our kids saw Brokeback Mt. King Kong was just cool. Isn't it amazing how quickly you can get out of touch!?


I was not keeping in mind that the original question had to do with the kids you've worked (i.e. junior highers). The high schoolers from the affluent, fairly arts-oriented town Just Me works with would probably be more affected by movies like Brokeback or Crash.

So :-P

I can't imagine that King Kong had much cultural impact, though. There was a lot of hype for it, but in the end, it was kind of boring.


Are you getting personal with me Bill? Are you talking to me? You better not be talking to me! ;)

Actually, I agree with your assesment of King Kong, and your view of the kids Just Me comes into contact with.

Just Me

I admit that I just can't bring myself to see Brokeback Mt though I hear - am I right? - that "my girl from Millburn" is in it? Crash I could stand - and have heard a lot about it - so I guess I should. Hotel Rwanda they showed in school. King Kong - yuck! Da Vinci - I guess I'll wait for the DVD. Frankly can't wait for "The Devil Wears Prada" a probably totally pointless film but I loved the book, and it has "my girl" in it. Speaking of "My Girl" what category should that have been in? Romantic Comedies? Please add it to my list. Thanks all for any updates you've given me or will give me in the future.


I think that kids in general don't see movies as much more than entertainment. Yes, there are those exceptions, but generally they go to movies to laugh and have fun. You may get one or two movies per generation that you look back on and realize that they actually had an impact; but I don't know that you necessarily realize it at the time.

Breakfast Club was a big one when I was growing up. It was a rare film that had a message and really touched on what we, as a teen culture, were going through. I remember that EVERYONE (at least it seemed like it) had seen it. But that may just be nostalgia talking.


What was the message of Breakfast Club to you? To me, (a bit older than you) it seemed to be 5 kids that can't get along, don't like each other until they unite against authority, get high and then get to know each other. it seemed to imply smoking pot was good and showing authority as corrupt and inept

Just Me

WOW - you must be old!:)


I am. ;-)

I loved the movie and actually just re-watched it about three weeks ago. But it was interesting that watching it as a "dad" gave me a much different feeling than watching when it first came out.


Actually George, that is a very good question, and an excellent misunderstanding of the underlying themes often found in film, in this case – focusing on the simple overt authority figure of the teacher verses the more subtle and complex authority figures found in the parents. The Breakfast Club was about kids rebelling against authority and getting high if you only saw two small pieces of it. It was important to the culture of its time because the eighties was really the height of the clique culture in high schools that originated in the late 40’s. The movie was about how kids from various forms of intact and broken homes, bad and good parenting, found themselves trapped by labels.

These labels came from their peer groups, to put each other down in an effort to establish a misguided sense of self-esteem. These labels also came from corrupt authority figures who, concerned only with their own power and control issues, lumped most kids into negative categories. These kids were acting in control, and acting out of control, in an effort to either fulfill the expectations or to strike against them. No one is saying that smoking dope is the correct thing to do, but it is funny the lengths people will go to feel in control.

The movie was not a guide book on what to do, but a reflection of what was going on. What really impacted kids of that time, is that by having the characters be lumped together by the over-controlling teacher, their own barriers came down and they were able to be vulnerable. They found that they had more in common than their differences. They found a shared bond in their own wretchedness. To kids of the 80s, this represented hope, a way out of the stereotypes, a promise of a better future. To those who have not found Jesus, that is hard to find. A number of films around that time focused on those kinds of issues: Pretty in Pink, Can’t Buy Me Love, Some Kind of Wonderful.

Most of the kids portrayed came from problematic families: drunk, abusive, obnoxious, domineering, and emotionally distant. This also served as an opening for kids that if their families were like that, they were not alone. After the moral failures of the late 60s and 70s, families had moved away from a Leave it to Beaver experience (not to say that experience was grounded in reality), divorce had jumped to an all time (at that time) high, and parents were seen as part of the “me” generation. This trend was also reflected by the movies geared to adults at that time: Working Girl, Baby Boom, The Secret to My Success.

I am actually stopping mid-thought here. This would make an excellent thesis paper for a history through film degree. If you really would like me to continue let me know, I think I answered your question though.


I think you answered the question perfectly. Thank you. Brilliant insight. It was really not part of my generation, I was in my 20's by then and kind of grew up at the tail end of the "hippie" thang. By the time that movie came out I had already played with Springsteen's band, the Asbury Jukes and Bon Jovi, had worked on a bunch of hit records, and was so consumed by my career that I saw myself more as an adult than a "kid". I also had a "day job" that required me to work for Reagan's DOD, so imagine how confusing the 80's were to me. ;-)

Thank you, (I think)(grin) I've never been complimented for having "an excellent misunderstanding". but I believe you are correct. I looked at it very simply and you certainly captured the deeper meaning of the film.

I'm really not much of a movie guy. One of the last three movies I saw in the theater was Planet of the Apes with Bill and Don Rhinehart. The other two were probably Galaxy Quest and
Shrek. (Doesn't exactly qualify me as a critic does it). The last three movies I've watched at home are Toy Story, Remember the Titans and the 1960 Disney Classic Swiss Family Robinson.

Basically on TV I watch Doc and when it was on 24.
I watch less than five hours of TV a week. (Except during football season.)
I read way more than I watch TV or movies and as far as music goes, I've been totally into Country lately and have found some internet stations that play Country Gospel that I sometimes listen to at work.

Anyway, thanks for your thesis. I honestly do appreciate it.


Now I have a question for the group that I have been struggling with for the last few weeks. What do you think of a church that cancels youth group and instead does a church-wide, secular, movie night? Does that say something about the importance of movies to that church?


I forgot George - Thanks. I keep telling my husband not to underestimate a blonde with a degree.


Good review, Deb. And it's really nice to see you kids playing nice. ;-)

Ken, I think that kids probably don't have the motivation of going to a movie for any kind of learning experience, but I think they have that effect nonetheless. The crappier ones and a lot of TV tend to have a bad effect in my opinion!


this is really food for thought.


Bill, I agree. All that we see and do has an effect on us in some way.

I am just not seeing the kind of draw to a movie that there was for The Breakfast Club. You're talking about a movie that had no sex, no violence, no excitement. All they did was...talk... and yet, pretty much everyone I knew had seen and liked it. I am not seeing that kind of movie out there these days. Napolean Dynamite is the closest I've seen.


I can not agree with what you wrote really....
please explain further a bit more for me :d



I prefer old time classic movies such as Metropolis,The Great Dictator, North by Northwest, ...


I'm fascinated by movies in general only the fantasy genre but I do not like if all else if I like big Hollywood productions and very few independent productions.

The comments to this entry are closed.