HOLLYWOOD WORLDVIEWS: Watching Films With Wisdom and Discernment – Brian Godawa (2009)

Whenever a book is dedicated to Francis Schaeffer, I usually stand at attention.  Brian Godawa’s book Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films With Wisdom and Discernment is no exception.

Godawa presents the purpose of the book in to introduction: “I want to inform the reader of the nature of storytelling and analyze how worldviews are communicated through most Hollywood movies.  As readers sharpen their understanding of movies, they will be more capable of discerning the good from the bad and avoid the extremes of cultural desertion (anorexia) and cultural immersion (gluttony).

This work is divided into three parts and  are summarized below:

ACT ONE: STORYTELLING IN THE MOVIES

The first section includes a survey of movies that are laden with violence, profanity.  Also included are movies that stress stories, myth, and redemption.  The author is quick to point out that “every story is informed by a worldview.  And so every movie, being a dramatic story, is also informed by a worldview.  There is no such thing as a neutral story in which events and characters are presented objectively apart from interpretation.”

The author challenges readers to watch movies with a discerning eye and avoid generic responses such as “I liked it” or “I didn’t like it.”

ACT TWO: WORLDVIEWS IN THE MOVIES

In section two, the author presents a wide assortment of movies that promote existentialism, postmodernism, romanticism, monism, evolution, humanism, and Neo-paganism.  He honestly and thoughtfully interacts with and dissects dozens of movies and contrasts them with the Christian worldview.

ACT THREE: SPIRITUALITY IN THE MOVIES

Godawa explores the identity of Jesus in the movies and how Christianity is represented (usually poorly) in contemporary films.  He rightly alerts the reader to the fact/value dichotomy that emerges in many movies.

Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films With Wisdom and Discernment is an excellent overview that clearly outlines the strengths and weaknesses in literally dozens of movies.  The author candidly interacts with worldview themes and carefully summarizes themes that are inconsistent with Scripture.  Godawa’s work is a breath of fresh air as he evaluates film and contemporary culture with a spirit of grace and a clear-headed approach.

4 stars

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