Sunday, February 3, 2008

Outside Hollywood

I finished the book about a month ago, but forgot to finish my review of it.

I really enjoyed this book. It has made me be more careful of what I watch and also how I watch things. I have never been one to just sit down and watch a movie to "zone out". One of the things I find most fun about watching a movie is discussing it afterwards with someone who shares the same beliefs as I do. (Right now this happens to be my sister and parents.) But after reading Outside Hollywood, I have begun to realize how important that is. We have to be so careful what we are allowing our eyes to see and what images we are allowing to be put into our brains.

I think this is an area where the church, and I as a part of the church, tends to fall. We are content to be just "better" than the world. We don't always strive to be the best for God's glory. I think many Christians choose movies that are maybe PG-13 because "they aren't R rated". Or PG because "they are PG-13 rated", etc.

Instead, we need to look beyond the guidelines that a secular world has put on movies and rate them ourselves. That's my first bit of advice. Always look at a synopsis, at the very least, of any new movie you are going to watch. If you have any questions at that point, either put it down or go find reviews from others that you trust. Our family uses Plugged In Online for a lot of reviews, but even then we have to be careful, because they have missed many problems with movies in the past. I personally always recommend getting a review of a movie from someone you know and trust personally before watching a new movie.

If, at this point, you are still interested in watching the movie, go ahead. But I would not necessarily allow young children to be in the room while you are previewing it. Even now my mom will still preview movies for my sister and I: my sister is 19 and I'm 25. I don't resent this in the least. I know she is doing this for my protection and I am grateful for it.

Once you have established that the film is safe for viewing by the intended audience in your home, watch it all together. Now, the most important part (and the part the ties this all back into Outside Hollywood) talk about it. Really, really talk about it. See what you can discover about the world view of the director, writer, producer, actors just by viewing this film. What was good about the film? (acting, directing, promotion of family, the father was portrayed favorably, etc.) What was bad about the film? (pay special attention to those things that might not be obvious:siblings treating each other poorly, sins that are committed and never have consequences, men being put down by the women in the film, etc) Don't exclude Christiam films from this same treatment. There is a lot we can learn (both things to do and things not to do) from the Christian film industry.

And now we are back to Outside Hollywood. The whole reason for the book was to teach people how to make a film that would glorify God in all the areas above. How to make movies that have a strong Christian worldview, that have a high standard of excellence in the technical aspects, that have the ability to build fathers and other men up, that have sibling with wonderful, godly relationships, that show that sin has consequences, that show women building up the men in their lives.

I highly recommend this book to not just those interested in film-making, but anyone interested in learning how to discern a good movie from a bad one.

I'm very grateful for this Christmas present and I think I'll add it to the list of books to be read each year. (That list isn't too long right now: The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Chronicles of Narnia, Outside Hollywood. Hmmm, maybe I should get started on the list now....)

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