Movie Audiences Flock To Films Of Faith

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The Steed family meets challenges to their faith in God with love in the final film chapter of "The Work and Glory" trilogy, which opened at Sawmill Theatres on Feb. 2.

"The Work and the Glory III: A House Divided" follows the travails of a pioneer family as they face the anti-Mormon mobs of 1830s Missouri.

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Mary Ann (Brenda Strong) and Benjamin Steed act out a scene in a Missouri camp in the movie "The Work and the Glory III: A House Divided."

"I liked the second film of the trilogy because it was full of action, adventure, love and even hate," said Loretta Putnam who is looking forward to the latest installment. "These are themes that anyone can relate to, because they are themed around real-life problems families have."

Throughout history, people who believe differently than the accepted norm have been, and in some cases still are, persecuted.

Since film first flickered in the cinema, directors have been making movies depicting these people and their accomplishments.

"Ben Hur" (1959) has been popularly broadcasted during Easter on TV stations for the past 50 years. It is the story of a Jewish prince/merchant who must struggle to regain his self-esteem, his family and ultimately his faith, after a brick from his roof falls accidentally, nearly killing a Roman governor.

"Luther" (2003) is the story of a 16th century German monk who challenges the Pope in Rome.

Box Office Mojo lists 51 Christian genre movies since 1980 that together have grossed $836,267,256 to date.

"Passion of the Christ" ticket purchases generated over one third of that week's box office sales, with "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe" a close second at $291 million.

The list of popular religious-themed movies includes films where God makes a winning football team, "Facing the Giants," or where God is instrumental in the life of a boxer in "Carman: The Champion."

The piety and devotion of St. Therese were shown in movies made in 1986 and 2004.

Joan of Arc, the young girl who had her first visions from God and subsequently defended France against English invaders, has had many films made about her, including the critically acclaimed "The Messenger" (1999).

Movies that are biblically correct, have a message of salvation and speak to the heart are what Cheryl and Bill Martin said they look for in religious films.

The desire to understand Biblical stories has proven to be an irresistible temptation to some documentary filmmakers.

The Discovery Channel has its "Ancient Evidence" series and the History Channel has looked at how Pope Urban II ordered the first crusade.

Bill Martin said he and Cheryl watch these exploratory documentaries as long as they "correlate to the Bible."

Oasis Christian Bookstore in Payson rents Christian-themed and family movies, such as "Left Behind," "Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie" and "Chariots of Fire."

Oasis owner, Bettie Clark, said she is usually too busy to seek out religious-themed films during their theatrical release, but did make it a point to see "The Passion of the Christ" and "End of the Spear" (2005) when they were presented at Sawmill Theatres.

Watching recent films like "China Cry: A True Story," "End of the Spear," and "Mercy Streets" that show how other families face life without losing faith inspires many who believe in God and Jesus Christ.

"They can also push some people away from God because they show things people do not want to see and hear," Putnam said.

Still, with 58 churches in the Rim Country, there are plenty of families to be inspired by filmmakers' creations on celluloid.

"If people are truly searching in their hearts for faith, for answers, these movies do have a positive input," Putnam said.

'The Work and the Glory'

"The Work and the Glory," "The Work and the Glory: American Zion" and "The Work and the Glory III: A House Divided" form a trilogy from producer Larry Miller, based on the series of books by Mormon author, Gerald Lund.

"The Work and the Glory III: A House Divided" is now showing at the Sawmill Theatres.

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