Until recently, we seem to have had a bit of a barren wasteland in film with respect to overtly Christian movies. This trend seems to be shifting with the release of “Do You Believe?” produced by the makers of last year’s sensation “God is Not Dead.” It is definitely an encouragement for Christians looking for godly entertainment that such movies are gaining traction. With the huge spiritual travesty that was “Noah” and “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” it has never been more important for Christian moviegoers to vote with their dollars — and their attendance.
Opening in theaters on March 20, “Do you Believe?” is essentially about a dozen or so different people whose lives intersect based on their circumstances and decisions, and how this intersection plays out in their attitudes and ultimate destiny. Think of the movie, “Crash”, but for Christians. The central themes of the movie involve not only believing but the significance of the Cross and acting based on what you believe.
The premise of the movie is well thought out and the story engaging. One particular little girl, Lily, is extremely endearing. And the ways in which the characters’ lives are interwoven are, for the most part, organic and make sense. There are some truly touching scenes.
According to the movie’s official website “Do You Believe?” shows Christianity as powerful and relevant, portrays people grappling with real-life issues, and demonstrates the effect of a life fully committed to Christ.
It shares the struggle of gang members, an unplanned pregnancy, and a grief-stricken couple.
“Do You Believe” producer David A.R. White says on the site that the film shows that “one person living out their faith fully for Christ can make an eternal impact with rippling effects on the lives around them.”
Filmmaking as art
Is there room to grow? Absolutely. I find, going in with an open heart – and mind – there is much to gain from seeing films like this. It reinforces lessons we have already learned and nudges us with questions on what we would do – and should do – in similar circumstances. It really could just as easily – and possibly more aptly – be named, “What Will You Do, Now That You Believe?” My one contention is that, in getting out such a valuable message, the development of the storyline tends to be overly simplistic and the characters not fully developed. What I would like to see as an intelligent Christian filmgoer is more complexity, richer character development and more nuanced storytelling. There is no doubt that filmmaking is an art, and in many Christian films our art needs to be honed.
Less than a year ago, I had the privilege and distinct pleasure of seeing C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters” at Parker Playhouse. I was riveted in my chair for the entire ninety minutes. From the amazing script to the unparalleled performance by the two – count ‘em, two – actors in the play as something I would vociferously recommend to anyone, again and again. And the lesson was so incredibly power, packaged as it was with the incomparable wit and spiritual acuity of one of the most brilliant writers in Christianity.
How does this relate to “Do You Believe?” It is obvious that the producers of this movie invested a lot with regards to the set, the special effects and the actors. I found none of that wanting. And the soundness of the message is one that Christians can thoroughly support. Producers of this and similar films should continue to explore the highest examples of art in our admittedly narrow genre, be they plays, musicals or novels. How are the characters developed? What rich complexities and plot twists can be introduced to keep the audience engaged? How can we make the performances and storytelling more nuanced, while keeping the message clear and understandable?
I believe the filmmakers have begun to ask these questions and I am encouraged to see the direction in which such films are heading. But, let us not rest on our laurels; there is room to grow here.
Go see the movie. Take a friend. This is a labor of love, for Christ and for Christians. Let us cast our vote and continue to support the incredible growth that is already taking place in Christian entertainment.
Keisha McDonnough is a research analyst and writer. A Jamaican native and South Florida resident, she is passionate about poetry and vow writing. Check out her website at everaftervows.com.