Even before Mel Gibson grabbed hearts and headlines with The Passion of The Christ, Christians were finding a new fascination with the spiritual significance they're encountering at the multiplex. Every month sees a new film-and-faith book hit the shelves, film clips are showing up in Sunday sermons like never before, and believers gather in study groups where the VCR and DVD player are almost as important to the proceedings as Bible or concordance. Jesus "spake not except in parables," and the spiritual impact of story didn't end with Christ.
The folks at Arts & Faith, an online discussion group comprised of film critics—including Christianity Today Movies critics Jeffrey Overstreet, Peter T. Chattaway and myself—and other movie buffs have been carrying on a lively conversation about spirituality and film for years. Recently, the participants forged a terrifically diverse and intriguing list of 100 Spiritually Significant Films—an incomparable resource for anyone interested in exploring transcendent themes in the movies.
During our voting process, two films clearly rose to the top, tying for first place: Dekalog, a series of ten one-hour films created by Poland's Krzysztof Kieslowski, dealing indirectly with the Ten Commandments, and Robert Duvall's personal vision film, The Apostle. Arts & Faith had an in-depth discussion of Dekalog, a highly artistic and ethically complex series; in fact, the A&F board got started with a discussion of another series of films by Kieslowski, the Three Colors trilogy, which also found its way into the top 100.
The Apostle was written, directed and personally financed by Duvall, who also plays the title character, a troubled Southern evangelist who is not only a deeply flawed ...