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Movie Critic Ann Hornaday Comes Out as…a Christian

posted by Nell Minow

Washington Post movie critic Ann Hornaday wrote a brave and very moving essay about being a writer sustained by Christian faith and how that affects the way she approaches all films and especially those with religious themes.

As a critic, my first obligation is to assess each of these films not as theology (an exercise for which I’m supremely unqualified), but as a piece of commercial entertainment, whether the form it takes is a mass-market spectacle or a more niche-oriented product that preaches to the choir. After praying, I always ask myself three questions about any movie I’m writing about: What was the artist trying to achieve? Did he or she achieve it? And was it worth achieving? The beauty of that framework is that it allows me to set pure subjectivity aside, the better to judge every film on its merits; the answers get a little dicier, however, when I’m asked to analyze an explicitly Christian film. At that point, my beliefs inevitably come into play, whether I interpret the Old Testament as a divinely inspired but not necessarily literal text in “Noah,” or whether I feel that the starchy, simplistic approach of “Son of God” failed to capture the most subtle and powerful elements of the Gospel of John.

The best thing about the essay is the way her faith shines through the integrity of her approach to her work and her church.

 

  • Glint_Westwood

    The three questions she asks are subjective in themselves…She states, “After praying, I always ask myself three questions about any movie I’m writing about:”…The “prayer” itself is subjective, so any critique subsequent is inherently subjective…or drivel.

    • Nell Minow

      I’m not sure what your point is, here. All opinions are subjective by definition, including the one you are expressing in this comment. A critic’s job is not to meet some objective standard — that’s for scientists, mathematicians, and reporters. It is to express an aesthetic judgment with a clear point of view, substantiated and expressed in a lively and illuminating manner. Hornaday does all of that very well, and it was interesting to learn more about how her point of view is formed.

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