rebelling against low expectations

What should we think of “Bible-based” movies?


R. WRITES: I’ve noticed that it’s become really popular in recent years to remake or create new Bible-based movies. My problem is that all of these movies take some creative liberty with God’s Word, expanding it and adding details. But if the filmmakers are clear about what they’re adding out of speculation, is it okay to watch these movies? What if it changes my perception of the true story?

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  • Hmmm…. It depends. If they’re staying fairly close to the actual story(i.e. Prince of Egypt, or Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat kind of thing), I really enjoy such movies/productions. Though I have not watched it, I have heard that the Passion of the Christ is excellent, as well as others. However movies such as the new Noah movie and a few others have been stretched pretty far past what the Bible says. There’s creative license to fgill in what we don’t know, and then there’s blatently twisting the story. That’s not cool.

    Watching them is one thing(after all, how are we to know if we don’t ever watch it once?), but I wouldn’t recommend to another person movies that don’t line up with the Bible, nor would I personally watch them again. I just don’t like watching the Bible be twisted like that on screen. So… If it changes your perception of the story, go read the Bible again. It’s right. Period. If it doesn’t line up with the Bible, I generally wouldn’t bother watching it again.

  • I agree with Regan…..It depends. I would firstly question the term ‘Bible based’. With the example of the Noah movie (since it was already mentioned) from what I have heard ( I haven’t seen it) it is definatly blatantly twisted. As far as being based on the Bible I would say Holly Wood merely stole the name Noah and put an ark and a flood in it. Of course, just because it is supposedly Bible based does not mean you should watch the movie. We still need to keep the movie standards we have already put in place for ourselves. I think just like everything we do, say, hear, listen to, and watch we just have to be wise. Going in with a guarded heart and mind sifting everything through a Biblical strainer. Sometimes I think its even good practice to watch some movies like this because if we’re not sure if something that happened in the movie is really true we can always go back to the scripture and it will give us a new understanding by studying the story again. These movies are sometimes purely innocent i.e. Veggie Tales. Creative liberty? No doubt! haha Sometimes it helps younger kids see the scripture in a more understandable way and maybe more age appropriate way. Not to mention they are funny!

        • The part of the show where Larry comes out and sings… a silly song.
          My sister and I still sing some of those songs around the house! They are so catchy! Especially the I Love My Lips song. We always love to say the really fast part. “And I just stood there until the fire department came and broke the lock with a crow bar and I had to spend sixteen weeks in the hospital with a kid named Oscar, who got stung by a bee right on the lip, and we couldn’t even talk to each other until the fifth week when both of our lips were so swollen. And when he did start speaking he only spoke Polish and I only know three words in Polish, except now I know four because Oscar taught me the word for lip! Usta!”
          I am so sorry, but I could not resist!

          • Oh my goodness that was hilarious! I love that one, but my personal favorite is ‘Barbara Manatee Manatee you’re the one for me one for me!
            But ‘You’re my cheeseburger my only cheeseburger’ is a really good one too. And you can’t forget…. ‘Oh where is my hairbrush’ Haha I am cracking myself up (:

          • Ah yes! “You are My Cheeseburger” is a family favorite! One of the newer ones that my sister and I always sing is “Where Have All the Staplers Gone?” The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything is another classic! We also the the film of the same name. That one is my dad’s fave. I also really love Esther. That one is so good and hilarious.

          • The Cheeseburger song is one of my dad’s favorite songs! I also used to have a friend who wasn’t a Christian, but she really loved the silly songs from Veggie Tales. 🙂

          • Gee, thanks. I’m gonna be thinking of the “oh where is my hairbrush” song for the rest of the day because of all these mentions of Veggie Tales. Gaahhh!!!! lol

          • Man, I thought we were the only ones who still sing Veggie Tales in their teens… Love Veggie Tales. Whatever I said above about taking creative license, doesn’t apply to Veggie Tales cause they’re awesome and they’re totally Bible-centered.

          • You are not alone. My cousin also sings them with us and she is in her teens as well. 🙂

  • I think “bible” movies are especially dangerous because no matter how close they get they’ll always be wrong somewhere.

    Nothing can do more harm then being wrong about God. So why would we sit and be told lies (at least misperceptions) about Him for an hour-thirty?

    If they try to show Jesus, it’s that much worse because nobody has the right to pretend to be God, or tell me something about Him that God hasn’t revealed himself. God has a lot to say about making images of Him, why would there be an exeption for movies? Having that picture in my head is only gonna make it harder to remember who God really is.

    I know I’m being harsh, but I think it’s justified. Paul was extremely hard on false teaching — even if it was unintentional– and we need to be too.

    I went to see Ben-Hur last week, and I’m still scared people will think my Jesus is that wimpy carpenter dude. If they do, their souls are in real danger. That jesus preached that “love is our true nature, we just need to embrase it” — that’s a lie. And while that “gospel” might make you nicer it does nothing to the fact that you’re a sinner deserving punishment.

    The true Gospel can’t be put in a script or shown on a screen. Think about it, can you really show the full weight of our guilt? Of God’s wrath? What actor can show Jesus’ perfection? How do you explain his sacrifice in a film? Can we honestly represent what it means to be cleansed, and changed, and loved by the God who should be hating us?

    I’m not even sure I really understand these things, theres no way I could show them through art. Especially not in an hour.

    So while pictures can be helpful (Full of Eyes, anyone?), at best they only give us a vague idea of what God is really like.

    Whether or not you decide to watch those movies, don’t take them too seriously and always go back to scripture — it’s the only way you can really know God.

    Hope this helps!

    • I’ve heard pretty mixed reviews on the new Ben-Hur. Have you listened to the Focus on the Family Radio Theatre version? It’s fantastic! It sticks to the book and storyline and doesn’t mess stuff up and the chariot race is like you’re actually there. It’s great.

      • Oh awesome! I haven’t heard it but I might have to look it up now 😂.

        I think it just depends on how important you see Jesus as being in the film. I mean he was a pretty minor character honestly, but to me that it felt like his message was the point of the whole movie. On the other hand, my brother watched it and he saw it as more of a Judah-the-chariot-racer movie, so he wasn’t even annoyed. It just depends, idk.

  • I think Bible-based movies (and books and other mediums of storytelling) are not only fine but can be really helpful to just interpreting the Bible better and feeling like you can be immersed in it and see things in a way you might not have when you read the Bible again.

    I also think adding stuff is perfectly fine. . .and as an amateur writer, I think it’s kind of necessary. The subplots and stuff needed for writing a good novel can’t all be found in the Bible, and I’m guessing it’s similar for film. Some of these Bible ‘expansion,’ or whatever you call them, are even just taking some small detail or seemingly insignificant character in the Bible and making it more of a big deal.

    Unfortunately, the movies now a day do a lot more than just add-they change. And that’s where things get bad. I think if a story changes the Bible, we should at least be careful about it. I wouldn’t say we shouldn’t read or watch it at all, but we should keep that in mind. And obviously, if the story changes the Biblical narrative in such a way that is not only different from the Bible but contradictory to it (making points about sin, grace, God, etc.) that are against what the Bible teaches, then I don’t we should read or watch it at all.

    This is interesting, because recently my dance group that I’m a part of, did a show of Deliver Us (the story of the Exodus.) It inspired me to read the biblical account, which brought up some questions for me about the difference between the Bible and what our typical ‘Bible story’ is. I guess there is one place where I would be careful. I think we can watch, listen to, read etc. these stories about the Bible and then read the Bible (not assuming that we read or watched or learned in Sunday school is actually the truth.) I guess I think historical/Biblical fiction is the same as theology in that way. We shouldn’t assume it’s true just because someone else said it. We need to read the Bible too and see if the two align.

  • Watch the movies with an older believer and take what they have to say with a grain of salt until you can discuss it with the mature believer and see what the bible says.

  • Depends on your personal conviction. On one hand, I know people who watched and enjoyed some of those awful pseudo-Biblical movies such as Noah and enjoyed them. On the other hand, I know a family who doesn’t watch VeggieTales because one of their daughters thought that Nebuchadnezzar literally owned a chocolate factory. =P

  • I dont have time to read all the comments, so if I said the same thing someone else did, I’m sorry!
    I don’t think they’re inherently bad, but I wouldn’t trust them as much as I would the Bible. They were produced by imperfect people, so they can’t be perfect. However, some do have good messages. But, like in the Noah movie, a little bit of a lie with truth makes and even more powerful lie.
    So yes, I watch them, and I like them, but I don’t take them as the gospel truth.

    (Sings Gospel Truth from Hercules 😁)

    • We never did watch Noah. A lady a the bookstore was telling us about it and she was like, there were people in there who were like glowsticks and transformers helped them build the ark! Lol
      Did you see the Moses movie? I can’t remember what it was called, but OMG they ruined the story.

        • I don’t even know. Somebody else told me I think that they were like rock people or something and I guess they reminded her of transformers! I hate the thought of somebody watching that and thinking that’s really what the Bible said happened, lol.

      • Was it the Prince of Egypt? I loved the Prince of Egypt… It was wonderfully done, and overall they stuck to the story. The music rocked in that one.

        “Deliver us, deliver us, Lord of all remember us, here in this burning sand. Deliver us…”

        • Noooooooo I LOVE the prince of egypt !!!! We own that one and I’ve seen it so many times. Best Moses movie ever made! It was the one Johanna said, Exodus. It was horrible, I dunno if you’ve seen it.

          • Yeah…I hope Hollywood execs now know better than to give a Biblical adaptation to someone like Ridley Scott, who made the alien franchise.

          • I hope so too, but I saw another movie a few months ago about Jesus in the Wilderness for 40 days and it was soooooo unbiblical. And just dumb. It wasn’t even interesting.

          • Well on the other hand, why do we expect them to make accurate biblical adaptations? Accuracy is generally not in the neighborhood as far as Bible movies go. The Bible series, that was made by Christians, and that as more inaccurate than me shooting a bow and arrow for crying out loud! That said, wouldn’t immediately disown movies like that just because it’s inaccurate. I personally think the Bible series was pretty good. You can have a good adaptation without 100 percent accuracy. In fact, most “based in a true story” movies are really inaccurate.

          • Yeah I enjoyed the Bible series, despite that. Some Bible movies are just so far out there though, I can’t enjoy it.

  • Hey have you watched the Gospel According to John? It’s narrated but really good. It’s word for word what’s in the gospel of John, so you know everything that’s in that movie is in the Bible.

  • I think it is okay to watch them. Just know that the bible is the truth and this is Hollywood’s way of showing the truth. Hollywood will always get something wrong. If it’s a book adaptation or bible based, they always add or take important things from it and make it their own.

  • Yeah, i heard that the Gospel According to John is really good @Celestria_B:disqus. and, like others have said (in slightly different ways) it 1. depends on personal beliefs. 2. depends on if it promotes the bible or demotes it. movies can often change our perspective on things, so be careful what you watch.

  • I reckon that the best bible-based movies to watch are the ones without the famous actors and actresses, because it seems to me when you’ve got Hollywood star playing a Bible character, you have to tweak the story just enough so that you can squeeze that killing scene with the alligators in Exodus: Gods and Kings (I hope you didn’t see that movie. I haven’t, but I heard it’s pretty bad. I got the info off IMDb).
    I don’t mean to say are all bad. I mean, Prince of Egypt worked with Steve Martin and Martin Short! Keep the animated movies! How come they don’t make more animated bible movies?
    And on the topic of Bible-based movies, can anyone remember The Story of Jesus for Children?
    Or those ones by Nest?

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