FILMS WITH A CHRISTIAN THEME
William Wilberforce's longsuffering pursuit to end the British slave trade, inspired by his Christian faith and the encouragement of his mentor, John Newton.
Chariots of Fire
Inspiring story of a young Scottish runner who is willing to put obedience to God before an Olympic gold medal.
A Man for All Seasons
The inspiring story of Sir Thomas More, the 16th century Chancellor of England who was beheaded by Henry VIII because he would not compromise his beliefs. More is played by Paul Scofield, whose last lines in the film are: "I die his majesty's good servant, but God's first."
(1985 version, Not Rated; 1993 version, PG.)
Flawed but interesting films about C. S. Lewis and his marriage to Joy Davidman.
(1941, Not Rated)
A young man is converted to Christ, and then must decide whether killing in the context of war is authorized by the Bible. Based on a true story.
(1953, Not Rated)
A Roman centurion who carries out the crucifixion of Christ becomes one of His most fervent followers. A dramatic tale of heroism and sacrifice.
(1953, Not Rated)
A Hitchcock drama about a priest who hears a murderer's confession--and then is himself arrested and tried for the crime. One of the most inspiring portrayals of Christian faith on film, this movie depicts a priest who is willing to give up even his life before betraying his vows.
(1959, no rating)
A young Jewish man who lives at the time of Christ battles the Roman Empire and ultimately becomes a Christian.
Brother Sun, Sister Moon
A lovely film about St. Francis of Assisi.
The Hiding Place
(1975, Not Rated)
The true story of a Dutch woman named Corrie ten Boom whose family hid Jews from the Nazis, and were themselves sent to concentration camps when the Nazis discovered what they were doing. A tremendous example of Christian courage. Note: The film depicts the brutal reality of life in a concentration camp.
A new pope finds himself locked out of the Vatican by mistake one day, and goes incognito to a small town run by a local thug. A sensitive and amusing film that illustrates the New Testament meaning of servanthood. Produced by Robert Wise of "The Sound of Music" fame. Note: Attempted seduction scene, one child is killed through an accident.
(1935, Not Rated)
The redemptive Victor Hugo story of Jean Valjean, who is sent to prison for stealing a loaf of bread, and becomes a Christian through the sacrificial love of a bishop.
A down-and-out country singer turns to Christ. An on-screen baptism is beautifully depicted.
This film was banned in the Soviet Union. Ted Baehr's MovieGuide says: "Repentance is the movie that destroyed Communism. This ... magnificent movie exposes the evils of communism ... while lifting up the suffering Church and the triumphant, eternal Church of Christ Jesus." (In Russian with English subtitles.)
Cry the Beloved Country
Set in the 1940s, the film is about a black South African minister whose son has been accused of the murder of a white man. A Christian worldview is portrayed throughout. NOTE: Implied murder, implied prostitution and fornication.
Inherit the Wind
(1960, Not Rated)
If you want to understand why our cultural elites think Christians are poor, ignorant, and easy to command, watch this film. Based on the 1925 Scopes "monkey trial," this film depicts Christians as ignorant, intolerant, and hypocritical.
The Brothers Karamazov
(1958, Not Rated)
Is it possible to be good without God? This film correctly says no.
Dead Man Walking
A nun becomes the spiritual advisor to a death row inmate. Contains a very strong conversion scene. Note: A murder and rape are shown at a distance, two corpses (one unclothed) are depicted. Some obscenities and vulgarities.
One of the all-time favorites—how do we live our faith? Can we trust God's providence? What does every artist want? This is a sumptuous story that's great for all kinds of discussions—and the meal is amazing.
The Gospel According to Matthew
(1994, Not Rated)
This movie tells the story of one of Jesus’ most important apostles in the time frame of Christ’s birth to his death and resurrection.
Set during the time of the French Revolution, Jean Valjean, a criminal, changes his life around after escaping prison, but he still must deal with his past as well as his present situation.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
An epic trilogy that illustrates the classic battle between good and evil.
Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
This film accurately depicts C.S. Lewis’ novel and doesn’t shy away from the contrast between good and evil, and the power of sacrifice.
Passion of the Christ
Mel Gibson realistically depicts the last twelve hours of Christ’s life. Note: Graphic violence.
End of the Spear
"A story that should be told in this age of ethnic cleansings, gulags, holocausts, genocide, and riots." (From Embracing Enemies, 1/17/2006)
FILMS WITH MORAL THEMES
The following films are worth watching for their serious and inspiring treatment of moral themes, or because characters face moral challenges and rise above them.
Sophie Scholl: The Final Days
A dramatization of the final days of Sophie Scholl, one of the most famous members of the German World War II anti-Nazi resistance movement, The White Rose.
The Ultimate Gift
Before his death, a wealthy man attempts to help a family member find redemption and purpose in life.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
(1939, Not Rated)
A Frank Capra classic about an idealistic young senator who takes on corrupt politicians.
It's a Wonderful Life
(1946, Not Rated)
A classic Jimmy Stewart film about a depressed man who is reminded on Christmas Eve of how much he has to be grateful for.
(1942, Not Rated)
This classic is set in Morocco during the Second World War. Unlike the characters in "The English Patient," Rick and Ilsa sacrifice personal happiness for honor.
(2011, Not Rated)
Talented reporter Charles Anderson breaks into the big leagues when famed newspaper editor H.L. Mencken assigns him to cover the 1925 Scopes "Monkey Trial." But as Clarence Darrow defends evolution against William Jennings Bryan, Mencken pressures Charles to make moral compromises. Can his fiancee Rose convince him to side with truth?
The Winslow Boy
(1948, Not Rated)
Based on a true story, the film depicts the sacrifices an entire family is forced to make when the son is wrongly accused of theft at school, and the father decides to fight for the boy's honor.
(1952, Not Rated)
A good man stands alone against the forces of chaos and evil. A landmark Western.
Shadow of a Doubt
(1942, Not Rated)
In this Hitchcock thriller, an ordinary young woman realizes her uncle is a murderer and must decide what to do with that knowledge.
The Man Who Knew Too Much
(1955, Not Rated)
A Hitchcock film in which an ordinary man on vacation is thrust into a crisis and forced to make difficult moral choices.
North by Northwest
(1959, Not Rated)
In this classic Hitchcock film, an advertising executive is the victim of mistaken identity, and must ultimately choose between his own safety and helping his country.
War of the Worlds
(1953, Not Rated)
The antidote to 1996's Independence Day. When aliens attack, who you gonna call? This film says you call God, and he will answer.
War and Peace
(1956, Not Rated)
Hollywood's version of the Tolstoy novel about three families caught up in Russia's Napoleonic Wars.
Twelve Angry Men
(1957 version, Not Rated)
A jury explores issues of justice and race.
The Sound of Music
A family is willing to sacrifice everything rather than join the Nazis.
In the Heat of the Night
(1967, Not Rated)
A classic film about a black New York detective who travels to the South to help solve a murder and becomes a victim of racial bigotry. Note: Adult themes.
The true story of a young boy who dreams of playing football for Notre Dame. A film that celebrates having a dream and working at it. Ted Baehr's MovieGuide says: "The film presents a moral view of character, the need for prayer, the sovereignty of God, and a positive view of the human spirit." Note: Some foul language and a skewed depiction of Catholicism.
Sense and Sensibility
The story of a couple willing to give up private happiness for honor. Based on the Jane Austin novel. Beautifully filmed.
Mr. Holland's Opus
A film that celebrates the glory of teaching, and of how one person can make a difference in the lives of others. Note: Some mild obscenities. No sex, nudity, or violence.
The characters and their stories serve as springboards to lessons about forgiveness and the possibility of healing and restoration. The film was financed by Gregory Productions, the film-making arm of the Sacred Heart League. Note: Mild violence and mild foul language, references to rape and child abuse.
Stand and Deliver
Based on a true story, a new teacher in a rough urban school refuses to believe his students cannot learn and excel. Note: Rough language, violence.
Set between 1280 and 1314, the film is about the Scottish freedom fighter William Wallace who leads his people to freedom from England. Christian film critic Ted Baehr writes: "The movie is a rallying cry for the supremacy of God's law and [His] judgment of those who unjustly govern their fellow man." Note: The violence of war is graphically depicted, brief nudity, two discreet sex scenes.
A Holocaust drama about a German businessman who helps Jews escape the death camps. The film shows what one individual can accomplish in the face of great evil. Note: Contains profanity, graphic violence, and nudity, as well as some anti-Christian references.
A movie about two prisoners who form a powerful friendship while serving out their sentences.
Faithless and/or The Divorcee
(1932, 1930, Not Rated)
Both movies explore the trouble that extramarital affairs cause.
A young stockbroker faces temptations in this film that takes a look into the workings of the financial world.
A story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whose work and life and put in jeopardy by a jealous and vengeful fellow composer.
Life is Beautiful
This World War II film emphasizes the power of love as a Jewish family endures life in a concentration camp.
A Beautiful Mind
A true story about John Nash, a mathematical genius, who battles schizophrenia.
Jim Carrey reminds us to be careful what we wish for in this film that shows that power isn’t worth much unless it’s used for good.
The Seven Samurai
(1954, Not Rated)
A poor village under attack by bandits recruits seven unemployed samurai to help them defend themselves.
(1941, Not Rated)
It's on just about everyone's top 100 list—and for good reason
Three men reaching middle age go to New Mexico to participate in a cattle drive.
Dead Poets Society
A group of high school boys at a New England prep school learn the power of friendship and loyalty through even the most tragic circumstances.
Violent but realistic and solid worldview message about truth and loyalty.
In this comedy, Bill Murray constantly re-lives this February holiday until he learns his lesson about how to live his life.
A lawyer experiences a change of heart when he loses and gradually regains his memory.
Saving Private Ryan
A company of soldiers put their lives in jeopardy to bring one man home in this powerful World War II epic.
The Seventh Seal
(1957, Not Rated)
A medieval knight encounters and plays a game of chess with death incarnate.
A movie that takes place in a small Texas town, it is described as “a chain of epiphanies on faith and love.”
The Truman Show
A man finds out he’s been living his life as TV star ever since he was born. It is a journey of self-discovery as he tries to find out what is real and what is entertainment.
Walk the Line
It's a truth that the filmmakers clearly bore in mind as they made the movie. Walk the Line, a beautifully made film about Cash's early years, is many stories in one: a story of sin, self-absorption, recklessness, grace, and redemption. (From The Right Story, 11/18/2005)
(1957, Not Rated)
Gone With The Wind
This movie still resonates the importance of honor and virtue.
The Bridge on the River Kwai
Great war story of heroism and the price of war.
The Longest Day
(1962, Not Rated)
Yes it's long but this is an original and I still marvel at these men's heroism to liberate Europe.
The Guns of Navarone
I can't think of the two previous war movies without thinking of this one.
To Kill A Mockingbird
(1962, Not Rated)
An honest lawyer takes on a racist town.
The Grapes of Wrath
(1940, Not Rated)
Steinbeck's book comes to life shows the Depression plight of so many Americans of the 1930s. Nice B/W look aids in portraying themes of social justice and hope.
The Gods Must Be Crazy
What happens when a bushman sees the "treasure" of an empty bottle drop from heaven? Why the gods must be crazy to lose something like this...and he sets off on a journey to an odd place called "civilization" to return it to its rightful owners.
One of the best sports stories ever made.
This movie exceeded all expectations. You don't fight evil with more evil.
(1960, Not Rated)
One of the favorite Westerns—the darkness of a legend. Sometimes we're not what people really think—sometimes we're even worse.
A true story about three men who found hope in one down-and-out racehorse and in turn inspired a nation.
That their dad would do almost anything to save his family is the ultimate message of Cinderella Man, a wonderful new film starring Russell Crowe. Based on the life of legendary boxer James J. Braddock, the film is a celebration of a man who models sacrificial love for his family. (From Cinderella Man, 6/17/2005)
"The scope of brutality boggles the mind; the rate of killing rivaled that of the Nazis. By the time it was over, nearly one million Rwandans were dead -- this, in a country of just 8.5 million people. You perhaps saw this dramatized in the gripping movie Hotel Rwanda." (From Another Bloody Day in Africa, 4/17/2006)
OTHER WORLDVIEWS AND PHILOSOPHIES
The following films provide insight into other philosophies that help us understand ideas that shape the world in which we live.
Ted Baehr's MovieGuide says: "Pagan worldview of impersonal, monistic force empowering man and controlling circumstances." An introduction to New Age monism.
Woody Allen's magnum opus anticipates the self-centeredness and therapeutic culture more than a decade before anyone else. Note: Contains scenes of sensuality, some crude language.
Days of Heaven
A brother and sister end up on a farm in Texas in a world with no meaning or purpose. Terrence Malick, a philosophy instructor turned filmmaker, made this film to be a window of insight into existentialism. This movie shows what is wrong with a world that excludes God.
The Dark Crystal
Two muppet-like creatures attempt to return a crystal shard to the castle containing the Dark Crystal. If you want to see how Hollywood sneaks New Age spirituality into children's films, here's a perfect example. Use the film to teach your kids how to be discerning.
A carefully Westernized introduction to this famous Indian, who used passive resistance against India's British rulers.
Crimes and Misdemeanors
A man kills his mistress, and then remembers the lessons of his childhood in a Jewish home. The film illustrates the true struggle of conscience: that without God, man has to "kill" his conscience or go mad. Note: Adult themes.
Rampaging dinosaurs are used to promote evolutionary arguments. Note: Violence may be too intense for many children. Some profanity.
Based on a novel by the late Carl Sagan, this film about SETI (the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) raises all the Big Questions of life. Portrays worldview of evolutionary scientific materialism. Ted Baehr writes: "A beautifully produced, sophomoric film which will give pseudo-intellectuals much food for thought while . . .offending the Christian moviegoer." Excellent for discussion. Note: Rough language, some nudity, implied fornication.
A man sets out on a physical and spiritual journey with his motor home.
Three women’s lives are paralleled in this movie as they battle with the issues of freedom and identity. Note: Contains same-sex sensuality.
The world isn’t always what it seems in this movie that explores an alternate reality.
Gattaca describes a not-at-all-distant future where biotechnology has rendered many undesirable human traits avoidable -- genetic engineering -- but at a very high social cost. (From Cutting It, 10/6/2005)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
People are mysteriously drawn to a place where they will make contact with aliens.
This movie is about a journey through the life of a mentally handicapped man who finds himself in the middle of historical events that he can’t comprehend.
(1949, Not Rated)
A stubborn architect attempts to find satisfaction in his work.
A man seeks fulfillment by juggling relationships with three different women.
One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest
A new patient who checks himself into a mental institution tries to release the other patients from the monotony and oppression of the hospital staff.
Two teenagers find themselves in the middle of a 1950s sitcom and attempt to “enlighten” the characters by introducing them to today’s culture.
2001: A Space Odyssey
Stanley Kubrick's dark epic about the diabolical side of technology. Weird and wonderful.
Million Dollar Baby
For most of its two-and-a-quarter hours, Million Dollar Baby is a story about love and determination. . . . Then tragedy strikes: An illegal blow causes Maggie to strike her head against the stool. She's left as a quadriplegic. (From Fighting For What’s Important, 2/11/2005)
CHILDREN'S FILMS WITH BIBLICAL OR MORAL THEMES
The Chronicles of Narnia
(1989, Not Rated)
Based on the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis (3-volume set).
The Lion King
This animated film is a reminder that we cannot flee either our responsibilities or our troubles; we must face them head on. We also see a father willing to sacrifice his life for his son.
The Three Lives of Thomasina
An example of what the Disney Studios were capable of before the forces of political correctness took over. A heartwarming, turn-of-the-century tale of a Scottish veterinarian who loses--and then regains--his faith in God.
Beauty and the Beast
This animated film echoes the Biblical teaching that what's inside the heart is more important than outside appearances.
The Secret Garden
Ted Baehr's MovieGuide says: "this profound story has been treated by many as a Christian allegory of death and new life through the power of love." Note: In one scene, the children are depicted chanting a magical spell around a bonfire.
The Polar Express
Based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg, The Polar Express takes us on one boy's journey from doubt to belief. On one level, the story can be interpreted as a retelling of The Miracle on 34th Street, but for Christians, this film can also be seen as a homecoming story, a tale about a return to untainted belief. ( From The Faith of a Child, 11/10/2004)
Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
Toy Story 2
Great "family safe" story about loyalty and friendship.
Story portrays the importance of realizing and carrying out our purposes in life. Also brilliantly skews the cracked educational thinking that everyone's "special."
Better than the first with less crude humor and a good story of friendship,
loyalty and being who we are supposed to be.
The Iron Giant
This is one of the most underrated animated features out there. It's a great story and I don't know why it didn't do better at the box office. Brad Bird went on to make The Incredibles with Pixar.
It still has a message -- all our decisions have consequences and results, good and bad.
The Black Stallion
Beautiful story about a boy and his horse, wonderfully directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
Some good storytelling here that will appeal to all ages.
This is another underrated animation which although it includes ancestor worship, is a wonderful Asian story of honor and courage. It has some great music. (One of the co-directors is a strong believer.)
RECOMMENDED BY CENTURIONS
Language might be a factor, but some great illustrations here about being honest about who we are.
A Place in the Sun
(1951, Not Rated)
Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift shine in this story, which illustrates the tragedy of what can happen when we sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate.
One of the few Mel Brook's movies recommended, but this one satirizes all the best Hitchcock movies . . . and it's funny.
Step into Liquid
This is a documentary but an incredible insight into the worldwide culture of surfing. Terrific view of God's awesome power in many sections. Again, unbelievable cinematography.
Godfather I & II
(1972, 1974, R)
Violent and some nudity but some brilliant storytelling here.
Kramer vs. Kramer
One of the best movies which depicts the pain of divorce.
This is an amazing little story that clearly illustrates the power of this art form. It will make you laugh and make you mad.
George Lucas in Love
(1999, Not Rated)
This is a college cult favorite short film...one of the best. It depicts the woes of a college student trying to write a story about a "space agricultural cowboy."
Powers of Ten
(1978, Not Rated)
Another short film that will make your head spin as you go from a picnic on Lake Michigan to the outer reaches of the universe and then back to inside a cell on a human being. God's power on display in about 15 minutes. Terrific visual concept here.
Hannah and Her Sisters
Woody Allen's masterpiece IMHO...who are we when no one is looking? Why do we fall in love with who we fall in love? Woody Allen is hilarious in this one.
Run Lola Run
A traumatically stunning incident in life can go three different directions. Great little post-modern tale with all kinds of implications for discussion and the artform.
See World War II from the other side as a U-boat captain and crew fight to stay alive and get home. Nominated for six academy awards.
Poetic storytelling. Terrific twist.
Lawrence of Arabia