Are Bible Movies Really Bible Movies?

In its first weekend in theaters Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings dethroned The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 1, as the reigning moneymaker, by raking in $24.5 million to Mockingjay’s $13.2 million. I had thought about watching Exodus: Gods and Kings despite Christian Bales, who plays Moses, calling Moses “schizophrenic” and “barbaric” in an October interview. Then I read an article by Brett McCracken, who was making a case for going to see the movie, and I changed my mind.

McCracken said Christians should not let a number of inaccuracies in the movie keep us from watching it, but when he said that God the Father is portrayed by a petulant 11-year-old British boy that did it for me. McCracken defends the film claiming he prefers a biblically themed film that is artistically done despite inaccuracies, rather than an accurate one that is poorly done.

I disagree; given the cinematic capabilities of modern-moviemaking I do not understand the need to sacrifice one for the other. Why can’t the film industry give believers both accuracy and artistry? After watching the first episode of the Bible series produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, I did not watch the remaining episodes. I was so disappointed by the first episode I could not bear to watch the rest. Fraught with inaccuracies, the angelic messengers sent to rescue Lot and his family from Sodom being depicted as ninja warriors especially irritated me.

McCracken argues that believers “who claim to live according to a gospel of grace” should overlook mistakes and go see it. But I tend to agree with reviewers like Gary Black, Jr., who writes, “When will a moviemaker demonstrate the confidence or courage to tell the actual stories these biblical movies are titled after?” He makes an insightful point when he posits what directors like Ridley Scott and Darren Afronofsky, who directed the film Noah, “miss…is that the primary character in these biblical stories is God.” Those Scriptures that admonish us not to “add to” or “take away” (Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:18-19) from what God has said applies to movie directors also. Where did Afronofsky get the idea that Noah needed the help of giant rock monsters?

I disagree with McCracken; this is not about grace in the eye of the beholder, but the faithless disregard of biblical truth by the directors. The film industry makes movies to make money. It is not a ministry, but an enterprise. Any enterprise that disparages the God I revere, perverts the Scriptures I hold sacred, and thereby mocks the faith I embrace, will be graciously forgiven, but they will not get my box office dollar. Why should I pay for them to mislead millions of moviegoers? I will just go next door and watch the Penguins of Madagascar. At least I will leave with a smile on my face instead of irritated and disappointed.


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