I love being Catholic. I also love movies. We can learn a lot from the art form of filmaking. The following is a list of films that are either timeless classics about the Church and her Saints, or that feature themes and values we can learn from and apply to our spiritual lives. And then there are some that I just think are really cool.
All the entires on the main list are guaranteed to start a good thought provoking discussion. Be inspired and ask good questions. Now go plan a movie night.
Bella (2006) PG-13
A tender, moving story about consequences, responsibility and forgiveness. Let’s throw the improtance of life and true love in there, too, while we’re at it.
The Bells of St. Mary (1945) G
Good ol’ Bing. In this fun classic, Crosby plays an unconventional, yet loving irish priest who has to learn to work with the strict, by-the-books Sister Mary Benedict.
Braveheart (1995) R
I just HAD to include this movie. Mel Gibson portrays a legendary Scottish hero in a wild ride of battles, rebellion, and lots and lots of glorious blood. Every man from who sees this film wants to be William Wallace, myself included. Over the years of donning a pitiful Scottich accent and cheering at the great kills with my friends, I started to see this as more than just a war movie: it’s a challenge. A challenge to apply Wallace’s reckless abandon and untamed passion to our faith lives. A challenge to not be afraid to give 100% to Him who gave it all before we even existed. As much as we all want to stand by Christ to the painful end, we all fall into the cycle of Robert the Bruce; betraying the Lord, then crawling back to fight once again.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (2006) PG
An excellent adaption of C.S. Lewis classic tale, this Oscar winner is always fun to watch. It captures very well the image of Christ we see in Mark’s Gospel; a ferocious, yet loving lion. Also featured (one of my favorite aspects): some very satisfying battle scenes and fights, even for a PG movie.
Mr. Tumnus: “After all, he’s not a tame lion.”
Lucy: “No…But he is good.”
Monsieur Vincent (1947) NR
The entertaining, yet challenging account of this 16th century Saint and his undying love for Jesus in the poor. This film made it as one of the 45 on the Vatican’s “Great Films List.”
Of God’s and Men (2010) PG-13
Winner of the Cannes Film Festival and Best Foreign Film by the National Board of Review, this astounding film by Xavier Beauvois shows how a community of Trappist monks responds to pressure from Algerian terrorists. The steady and haunting pace of this movie gives us a front row seat to the beauty of monastic life and what true sacrifice looks like.
The Passion of The Christ (2004) R
Mel Gibson’s extremely intense and dramatic account of the final suffering of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Some people don’t need to see it, others benefit greatly. Although all Christians can get a lot out of this film, there are subtle yet profound nods towards awesome Catholic things like: Christ’s true presence in the Eucharist, Mary’s sinlessness and abandonment to God’s will, and the redemptive value of suffering. A Good Friday tradition at my house.
MOST HONORABLE MENTIONS:
These movies have little or nothing to do with Catholic values; they just happen to be on my favorite list. A grain of salt is recommended.
The Blues Brothers (1980) R
Great music, terrible acting, and lots and lots of mindless destrucion. This has always been one of my favorites to watch and play music from. Features two brothers trying to save the Catholic orphanage they grew up in by “getting the band back together” after Sister tells them it is will be sold. This film held the world record for number of cars being wrecked in a movie (103) until the sequel “Blues Brothers 2000” was filmed which smashed 104 cars. Classic.
Boondock Saints (1998) R
Another great brother movie, but believe me, there is nothing saintly about this movie. It’s been called a masterpiece, on the other hand it’s been called pointless and violent. Call it what you will, you can’t ignore the fact that too many times, when we think we are doing good, we allow evil into the world by being afraid and doing nothing at all. “…We must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most…and that is the indifference of good men!”
Signs (2003) PG-13
Mel Gibson, what are you doing on this list AGAIN!? I get a lot of flack for liking this movie. People say it’s “stupid” or “it’s not scary enough.” What I find scarier than what people want this movie to be, however, is how the message of this film seems to fall on deaf ears. When scary stuff starts happening in real life (like tragedy, uncertainty, or the Apocolypse itself) will we cower in fear or will we trust the “signs” and believe that all things happen for a reason? Are we totally on our own, left to fend for ourselves, or is there someone out there taking care of things who knows the big picture?
Ok, so maybe it isn’t the scariest movie ever, but after watching this, you won’t find me in a cornfield at night. No way.
Stay tuned; more to come