According to Brian Godawa in Hollywood Worldviews, there are two extreme positions to avoid in viewing movies: the cultural anorexic, who avoids all movies; and the cultural glutton, who almost always watches movies with little or no discernment or thought about the content. The problem with the first is related to one's ability to redemptively interact with their culture. The problem with the second is the fact that movies are always based on a worldview, and they usually are produced to promote that worldview.
Thus, especially for Christians, but also for all who are concerned about American culture at the beginning of the twenty-first century, this book offers a wonderful antidote to both extremes--become a discerning viewer, who understands both what worldview is being presented and how it is being presented. The goal of this book, according to Godawa, is to help us to appreciate art (movies) better by understanding how they are formed and what they wish to say.
Godawa is a strong Christian, but he is also an accomplished screenwriter. He takes us on a fascinating tour of storytelling, worldviews and spirituality in the movies, and offers informative reviews of several contemporary movies. He includes an appendix on sex, violence and profanity, looking at how the Bible deals with all three to see how movies should deal with them. His passion for truth, especially truth as seen through movies, permeates this entire book.
Ultimately, Godawa hopes to enable us to see how movies can subtly affect us, causing us to change our ideas or even life because of what we see in them. For all the good that can be found in movies (and Godawa is quick to point out where that good is), Godawa knows that much of the contemporary movie culture is an infection of our faith, and will slowly turn us from the truth of God as revealed in His word. Thus, he aims to educate us in critical movie watching, so that we can cull from movies that which is good, and reject that which is less than good or even that which is evil.
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Customer Reviews for Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films with Wisdom & Discernment
Review 1 for Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films with Wisdom & Discernment
Date:March 28, 2004
Lately I've been scanning almost all the literature I can get my hands dealing with the church and movies. Sadly, the vast majority of the books say nothing about how to actually understand and appreciate film. Most of them are "how to reach your teen" or rather anemic apologia for pop culture. Godawa's book is much meatier. He starts by giving a basic treatment on the idea of story and myth, including discussions of redemption. Part two discusses various worldviews, mainly the existenialism and post-modernism, using films as examples. He then takes on spirituality at the cinema, and concludes with a broader view of how to watch films as a Christian. While I think the book has weaknesses (ie post-modernity as a worldview rather than sociological phenomenon, and an over-reliance on narrative [thank you PTC]), this is probably one of the best mass-appeal books I've seen from an evangelical writer on the subject of film. It would be appropriate for a church group study or personal study.