Jeffrey Overstreet has been reviewing films for CT Movies for several years. In his book Through a Screen Darkly: Looking Closer at Beauty, Truth and Evil in the Movies, Overstreet recounts his obsession with cinema, his job as a film critic, and his efforts at reshaping how and why Christians watch movies. CT associate editor Rob Moll talked to Overstreet about his views.

Why should a Christian go to the movies?

For the same reason we read books or listen to music or visit new restaurants—to experience life in all of its variety and creativity and beauty, and to learn to look closely at the world, in search of what it all means. Also, as we encounter the world through the perspectives of others, we have an opportunity to respectfully and compassionately consider what others see, hear, and think. Then we can begin thinking that through in the company of our friends and neighbors.

That might be true for artistic, thought-provoking movies, but is it worth the trouble and money to find such movies when I've got good spiritual books to read and a family to spend time with?

Films do more than give us something to think about. They can overwhelm us with the power of spectacle and sound. It is tempting to stop thinking while we watch and just feel, absorb it all. Movies that are cheap, mediocre, lurid, or crass waste our time, at the very least. At worst, they can cultivate unhealthy appetites and lead us into serious consequences. But if a work is truly artful—if it's characterized by excellence, truthfulness, and beauty—it can minister to us in mysterious ways.

I'm not saying books are a waste of time. Heaven forbid! I'm a writer! In fact, literature has an advantage over cinema in that it demands more of your imagination. ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

July/August
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Current IssueYou Have God’s Blessing to Say ‘God Bless America’
You Have God’s Blessing to Say ‘God Bless America’ Subscriber Access Only
Why a faith that transcends all nations leaves room for patriotic devotion.
Current IssueImmigrants Are Reshaping American Missions
Immigrants Are Reshaping American Missions Subscriber Access Only
Latino congregations are launching their own international partnerships to support ministries and churches in their homelands.
RecommendedWhy We Need Wonder Woman
Why We Need Wonder Woman
Even when it falters, the new female-led film brings freshness to the superhero flick.
TrendingKay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Kay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Through God's work in our lives, we've beaten the odds that divorce would be the outcome of our ill-advised union.
Editor's PickThe Refugee Ban Is Back, But Church Connections Might Trump It
The Refugee Ban Is Back, But Church Connections Might Trump It
World Relief wants clarification over today’s big Supreme Court decision.
Christianity Today
Studying the Silver Screen
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

February 2007

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.