National Edition

Why biblical and historical accuracy may keep faith-based films around

Published: Friday, June 13 2014 3:25 p.m. MDT

Updated: Wednesday, June 18 2014 11:56 p.m. MDT

Christian Bale as Moses in the upcoming film "Exodus: Gods and Kings." Biblical films such as "Exodus" and "Noah" have garnered negative attention for giving white actors the leading roles. Faith-based movies are gaining attention again. But how will Hollywood treat them?

Exodus Movie, Facebook

It’s been a serious year for religious films.

From “Noah” and “God’s Not Dead” to “Heaven Is for Real” and the upcoming “Exodus,” this year has been packed with movies portraying pious people and characters.

But what does the future of faith-based films look like?

Several articles in recent weeks have looked at how Christian and religious films will do in the future. And on Friday, Billy Hallowell of The Blaze reported on a new poll that found what might be the key to making successful religious films in the years to come.

Simply, it’s about historical accuracy.

The poll, done by Christian News Service and American Insights, found that 79 percent of religious people — and 71 percent overall — think that factual content is important for religious films, The Blaze reported. And that includes biblical accuracy, too.

“Taking liberties with the Bible for dramatic purposes like Dan Brown did in ‘The Da Vinci Code’ or the more recent film ‘Noah’ is nothing new in Hollywood,” said Charles Parlato, a Hollywood producer, to the Christian Examiner. “Brown’s contentions are clearly false, and I am not willing to let his interpretation of history stand unchallenged.”

But historical and biblical accuracy can only help so much. Eric Marrapodi of the CNN Belief Blog wrote that comedy films — like “Moms’ Night Out” — might help Christian films find some success.

Not only can the movie be relatable for believers and Christians, but it’s also good for general audiences to see — which Marrapodi saw as the future of religious-based films.

"Middle-class Christian families in America have every right to have their lives reflected on film," said Sean Astin, who’s in the movie, to CNN. "A lot of people will look at this movie and wouldn't see it as evangelical polemic."

It’s not necessarily a movie that screams Christianity and religious values, Marrapodi wrote. In fact, you might not even notice the values this film holds until its conclusion, Marrapodi wrote.

“Only at the end of the movie do you realize there were no sex jokes, no romps through strip clubs, and no crass profanity — bread and butter for success comedies in the last decade,” Marrapodi said.

But might biblical epics make a comeback? BBC reported that these types of films are experiencing a resurgence. Films of yesteryear like “Ben-Hur” are being echoed now in “Noah” and “Exodus,” wrote Karen Millington for BBC.

“This year it is not only biblical epics splashing onto the big screen: contemporary films aimed at a Christian audience are now gathering momentum,” Millington wrote.

And this may be the saving grace for Hollywood, too, according to Millington.

“But is it this desire for debate that has led to this most recent tide of biblical films?” Millington asked in her piece. “(A faith in film expert) thinks Hollywood is responding to its latest threats of gaming and online film providers: ‘I think the studios are yet again looking for the big stories of the Bible to save them.’”

Email: hscribner@deseretdigital.com

Twitter: @herbscribner

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS