Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Christians @ The Movies

Warren Cole Smith writes in World Magazine about the poor quality of the Fireproof film and makes a very important point:
We do the Kendrick brothers no favors when we grant them a “pass” based on good intentions. I learned this lesson as a writer many years ago. I am not the greatest writer in the world, but (I assure you) I am much better than I was last year, and I am much, much better than I was a decade ago. I improved because of tough feedback from teachers, mentors, and—sometimes—critics.

The artist’s life, a helpful college professor once told me, is a vocation, a calling. It should be engaged in to tell the truth about the world, and not just to make money or even to propagate a message. It takes discipline, perseverance, and mastery of the tools of that particular art. Most of all it takes an unsentimental view of what you’ve done and what you’re capable of doing. And it takes the courage to hear the truth about your work. Tough feedback is not a discouragement—it is a gift.

If we truly want to encourage the Kendricks, let’s say: “Congratulations. Making a movie, even a bad one, is no easy task. This one is an honorable ‘next step’ in the process, but is it really your best?”

If the Kendrick brothers have any artistic integrity at all, they will not be discouraged by such feedback, and—in the end—they might one day make that great Christian movie we all have longed to see.

Amen to that. Giving and receiving constructive, truth-in-love criticism can be painful, but it's necessary in the pursuit of excellence for the glory of God.

HT: Tim Challies

Update: Quick additional thoughts:

1) I haven't seen the movie (though I'd like to).

2) If Mr. Smith is going to critique artistic integrity, I would suggest he needs to apply integrity to the task of movie reviewing. Writing (and publishing) a critical review after only watching 20 minutes is simply inexcusable (see this).

4) I think we should avoid being elitists (who will criticize any movie like this, no matter the quality) and enablers (who will criticize any critic, no matter the criticism).

4) I don't agree that it necessarily takes a huge amount of money to make a good artistic film with a good story. Don't believe me? Pick up a copy of the movie Saints and Soldiers. It was made for under $1 million. (For snow they used mashed potato flakes from a local grocery store!)

5) I also don't agree that good content trumps artistic excellence. We should strive for both-and.