SW10012: Cinema and Spirituality: Beyond Mormon Movies

From Star Wars and E.T. to The Passion of the Christ and Avatar, movies with spiritual themes have consistently broken box office records–yet such films continue to be more exception than norm. Are these films indicative of a spiritual renaissance in society, or are they in part an outgrowth of the spiritual lives and values of the people making them? Recent films such as The Blind Side and The Book of Eli have portrayed religious characters with depth and respect, rather than making them a curiosity or punch line. Films about religious themes and spiritual journeys can be fascinating—if the project is in the right hands. What’s needed to make a spiritually-themed film a great film, too? What makes films with spiritual themes rise above preachiness and treacle? Can filmmakers, producers, actors, and other industry players translate personal spiritual values into the film projects they undertake? Mormon cinema has been trying to reach out to a larger audience—with mixed success. What lessons can Mormons in the entertainment industry learn from their peers who take on the challenge of making high-quality spiritual films?

Wade Mojor, Tasha Oldham, Louise Brooks, Douglas Hunter