News Round-Up: State of the Christian Movie

Currently in theaters, the proselytizing Christian indie God’s Not Dead is competing with the Hollywood blockbuster Noah, while the Biblical adaptation Son of God is still hanging in there. Here’s a round-up of news and views on this new Christian film boom.

Noah had a bang-up opening weekend, but do audiences actually like it? Exit polls suggest that the film didn’t go over well, perhaps because, as Kyle Buchanan at Vulture argues, Noah himself is a colossal jerk.

Despite the controversy over Darren Aronofsky’s liberal interpretation of Genesis, the director put some real research and soul-searching into his version. This interview with The Atlantic explains his approach, based largely on Genesis 6:6: “The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.”

And here’s the poem about Noah that Aronofsky wrote in seventh grade.

God’s Not Dead was backed by an aggressive social media campaign, specifically targeting people who listened to the Australian CCM group The Newsboys on Pandora. Here’s the video for the Newsboys’ 2011 song “God’s Not Dead,” which takes place on the day that scientists officially decide God does not exist. (Never mind that science can’t prove the non-existence of anything.)

Are you familiar with this urban legend about a Christian student butting heads with an atheist professor? Then you basically know the plot of God’s Not Dead. Scott Paeth at Against the Stream looks at the film’s message, and argues that Magnolia did it better.

Similarly, Liel Leibovitz at Tablet thinks that Groundhog Day and Fight Club are more likely to inspire religious discussion than Noah.

God’s Not Dead presents philosophy as the enemy of Christianity, but the screenwriter doesn’t seem to know much about philosophy. At Patheos, real-life atheist philosophy professor Dan Fincke offers a point-by-point rebuttal to the film (including a section called “How I Graded Religious Students Who Disagreed With Me”).

According to star Kevin Sorbo, the DVD of God’s Not Dead will have an interactive feature referencing 37 real-life court cases of universities battling Christian students. Can’t wait for that one.

Via Buzzfeed’s Adam B. Vary, here’s a chart of Biblical movie box office numbers. “Biblical movie” is liberally defined here, but it’s interesting to note the difference between now and the “golden age” of Biblical epics (1949-1965).

And finally, here’s an interesting piece by The Guardian’s Tom Shone, breaking down the obstacles filmmakers face in adapting the Bible. The biggest one, in his opinion: God is not a very good character.