You don't have to be a Christian or, indeed, a believer of any kind to
enjoy movies (or books, or plays) that have Christian themes, or that
clearly promote a message. Such themes are very subtly played out in
Gabriel Axel's 'Babette's Feast,' less subtly in the Narnia stories and
Lord of the Rings, and rather blatantly in, for example, Ben Hur, to
give only a few examples. All these have in common that they tell
engaging stories in either dramatic settings, or with vivid, engaging
characters, or both.
'Do you believe?' has insipid, cardboard-cutout characters and no genuine drama whatever. I can't trash it completely, because it's decently acted with competent cinematography -- a slick package, in fact. So slick, in fact, as to be suspicious. This is a movie that is clearly designed to push a product, and any artistic or dramatic interest it might raise is clearly a device, directed toward that end.
Although the movie is frequently described as "Christian," in reality it promotes a particular kind of US, affluent, protestant Christianity. One of the characters is a tame pastor whose role is merely to expound the doctrine of substitutionary atonement and keep everybody on message. I suspect that if you were, say, a Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox, that message would grate on you almost as much as it would on an atheist.
It wouldn't be so bad if the message were not delivered in such a plodding, heavy-handed manner. All the Christian Characters are shown as self-sacrificing, noble, and charitable; everybody else as in some way defective. The non-Christians exist solely to act as foils to the Christians, and highlight their Godly virtues.
I know from personal experience that most Christians are as prone to be conflicted and self-interested as anybody else, even if they aspire to higher ideals. But there's little sense of that aspiration in the movie -- even the putative "bad guys" are just good guys who have fallen in bad company, and just need a little nudge from the Big G to become fully-fledged saints. There's no sense that anybody struggles with his or her faith, or is put into real danger by it. The biggest risk that any character in the movie faces for standing up for his principles is to lose his job. Big deal -- it's not example martyrdom, is it? If you are already a Christian -- in particular, a protestant evangelical Christian -- then I guess this movie might give you a warm fuzzy. Anybody else, anybody who can look beyond the slick facade and see the not-very-subtle manipulation, will wish we hadn't stopped throwing Christians to the lions.
Do You Believe?
Action / Drama
Do You Believe?
Action / Drama
A dozen different souls-all moving in different directions, all longing for something more. As their lives unexpectedly intersect, they each are about to discover there is power in the Cross of Christ ... even if they don't yet believe it. When a local pastor is shaken to the core by the visible faith of an old street-corner preacher, he is reminded that true belief always requires action. His response ignites a faith-fueled journey that powerfully impacts everyone it touches in ways that only God could orchestrate. This stirring new film from the creators of God's Not Dead arrives in theaters Spring of 2015. More than a movie, it's a question we all must answer in our lifetimes: DO YOU BELIEVE?
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August 05, 2015 at 09:30 AM