Righteous reels: 5 bearable movies about religion
Films have historically provided visual investigation into religion’s antics and ethics. Unfortunately, the other half of the industry tends to make poor movies with fragile plots that preach messages too shrill to take away any concrete insights.
But while no movie can be completely unbiased, some open-minded messages do exist. Then again, you might enjoy movies like God’s Not Dead or Fireproof. Maybe I just didn’t get them. But here are some of my non-cheesy options.
Agnes of God
A women in a convent suddenly gets pregnant and claims that that the baby is a product of Immaculate Conception. A psychiatrist comes in to investigate and finds corruptible humanity in all the places one might expect to find a holy spirit, but the question of the baby’s father persists. Eventually, the film begs the questions: What does it mean to be chosen by God? Agnes finds out, and it certainly isn’t always as joyful as your Sunday School teachers might have you believe.
A team of journalists, featuring actors Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton and Rachel McAdams, from The Boston Globe follow the trail of a string of child molestations to uncover a ring of Catholic priests abusing children in Massachusetts in the early 2000s. This true story offers an important look at the accountability people place on their religious figures — people who sometimes are even capable of submitting to child sex abuse.
The Passion of the Christ
Directed by big shot Mel Gibson, The Passion tells the story of the gospels in all their gruesome glory and retains a seat at the top as the highest-grossing religious film of all-time — it hit more than $600 million in theaters in 2004. Those who can stand the subtitles will enjoy the push toward multilingual cinema, as the film is in Hebrew, Aramaic and Latin. While some argue that the film is too graphic, Gibson tackles the issue well: How do you make a story about a dude getting whipped, beaten and strewn out on a cross until he bleeds water a film for kids? Simply put, you don’t. However, the guy who plays Jesus is white, so there is some historical inaccuracy there.
This movie isn’t overtly religious. But when a serial killer starts offing people in accordance to the seven deadly sins, as outlined in the Bible, you’ll feel like praying right away. Instead of depicting a wrathful God, this movie inquires on the ire of humans—and how far they’re willing to go when jaded and pushed to the edge.
The Meaning of Life
On a lighter note, the beloved troupe Monty Python’s fantastic existential adventure balances hilarious sketches with musical genius in “The Meaning of Life.” Topics in this cult classic vary from the outdated Catholic argument against birth control to a look at the chaotic fruitlessness of war, but the entire set of stories arch into a comical, but valid, attempt to interpret what it means to be alive, and the film’s message is inoffensive at worst and enlightening at best.