When most people think of Christian entertainment, they think of low budget movies from unknown small companies. They think of poorly executed stories of the Bible that never make it in theaters. Given this, it's no surprise that many are not interested in seeing Christian movies.
However, what many of these moviegoers do not realize is that many of the most popular movies in the world today are littered with Christian themes. These secular blockbusters may not speak about Jesus directly, but they are using Christian theology to tell a story. This list continues movies for Christians and non-Christians alike that have Christian themes.
"The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe"
"The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" is a fantasy adventure film based on the novels in C. S. Lewis's children's epic fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia. Given the tie to such a prominent figure in Christianity, it shouldn't come at a surprise that these movies have Christian references. For example, Aslan’s death and coming to life is a portrayal of Christ’s substitutionary atonement, or the idea that Jesus died for us. Aslan's character is a portrait of Christ, and Aslan is willingly humiliated and killed, to be risen again. He goes up against the White Witch in spiritual warfare. Aslan ultimately wins, bringing in a re-created world.
The book series, written by author J.K. Rowling, was adapted into a huge movie franchise that took the world by storm. The movies deal extensively with souls, how to keep them whole, and the evil that is required to split them. The film has a theme that love can save you from death, and ends with the idea that sacrifice in the name of love can bring you back to life. Does any of this sound familiar? It should, because it's very similar to the teachings of Jesus Christ, who died because He loved us so much and wanted to save us from an eternal death.
The author of the books even confirmed this, saying: "To me [the religious parallels have] always been obvious, but I never wanted to talk too openly about it because I thought it might show people who just wanted the story where we were going."
Furthermore, there are even places where scripture can be found in the film. Harry Potter visits his parent’s grave, and on the tombstone it reads "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" which is a verse from Matthew 6:19. Another tombstone reads "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" which is from 1 Corinthians 15:26. There are hundreds of other references in the movies that are easily spotted by many.
The Star Wars worldview may at first glance appears to support Christian morality, such as the reality of good and evil, the search for meaning and redemption, and the pursuit of virtue. However, there are also other themes in the movie that support Buddhism, Hinduism and the like. Therefore, it's important to note that while many movies have Christian themes, there is a chance that you will find themes from other religions involved, as well.
In regards to Christian themes, however, there are plenty. In Episode V, Darth Vader challenged Luke Skywalker to “fulfill your destiny.” While Vader had sinister plans in mind, the reference to destiny strikes deep at the heart of the Christian message. Jesus came with a clear destiny of His own: “For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). He also came to give a “spiritual destiny” to those who believe in Him, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
The first six Star Wars films are, essentially, the stories of the rise, fall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker. Anakin’s life started with much promise. He was the Chosen One, heralded to bring peace and order to the galaxy. When faced with the finality of evil’s triumph, Anakin regained his humanity and destroyed the evil, even though it proved fatal to him. But with his sacrifice, he fulfilled his destiny, succeeding to bring peace and order to the galaxy. John 15:13 says, "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends."
Spotting Christian Themes in Film
The movie examples above are certainly not the only movies out there that have underlying Christian themes. Most of us overlook them simply because we don’t go to the movies thinking about Jesus Christ. However when we shift our focus, we can begin to recognize them more easily especially if you already know the movie has Christian themes.
The next time you watch a movie don’t accept everything at face value. Be aware of the smaller nuances that the movie details. Questions like “why did the actor do X” or “why did the director decide to add X detail” are good places to start. You might need to watch the movie over a few times to really identify any larger themes the movie has. Think back to when you took English in high school and you had to put on your critical thinking cap to breakdown what a story was trying to tell the reader. What is the director trying to convey to the audience?
Christian theology is rampant in Hollywood if you simply know where to look. Watch these movies and see if you can identify where the director was trying to show the audience Christ or the Bible. You might just spot something that no one else has yet, or be able to interpret it to mean something significant in your own life.