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Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films With Wisdom & Discernment Paperback – July, 2002

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 204 pages
  • Publisher: Intervarsity Pr (July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830823212
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830823215
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #213,141 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

An award-winning Christian Hollywood scriptwriter offers this rather uneven book on how to watch movies discerningly as a faithful Christian. Godawa's purpose is not to help readers decide which films are worth seeing (for that he refers them to Christian Web sites), but rather how to "read" a film for its messages as opposed to absorbing it only as entertainment. One of his main arguments is that Christians should engage the world of popular culture in order to reform it. Unfortunately, it is not always clear who he expects his audience to be. Sometimes he writes very simplistically; he ends his definition of "worldview" with the phrase "it is our view of the world" and details elements of stories and myths that many high school graduates would be familiar with. But other sections use very academic prose about complex philosophies like existentialism and postmodernism. He reveals a clearly defined, even narrow, view of Christianity by asserting the "correct" way one should live or interpret the Bible. "Rare is the movie that paints an accurate portrait of heaven and hell," he tells us. (Just what, exactly, would an "accurate" portrayal look like?) The fact that each chapter ends with assignments and discussion questions gives it a strong pedantic twist. Despite these flaws, in the hands of the right audience conservative Christians willing to approach it as a textbook and who don't mind having a few movie plots betrayed this guide will encourage more thoughtful film consumption without killing the fun of moviegoing.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Godawa is an award-winning screenwriter. He has also taught and written on film and philosophy, screenwriting, and the art of watching movies. Four of his screenplays have won multiple awards in such competitions as the Nicholl Fellowship, Austin Heart of Film, Fade-In, Worldfest, Writer's Network, Chesterfield Writer's Film Project, Columbus Discovery Award and Reader's Digest Screenplay Competition.

Customer Reviews

I highly recommend this book as a great introduction.
Godawa's book is a must-read for those who are interested in the meshing of culture, worldview, and the arts.
I know that I now watch movies differently than before I read this book!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By E. Johnson on January 3, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Brian Godawa tackles the issue of how to watch movies and be a discerning Christian at the same time. He believes extremes are wrong, whether it's the belief of being able to watch any and every movie that comes out (and not have it affect you) or being a Christian prude and declare that all movies are evil. He does an admirable job disecting movies--many of which were released in the past decade--and explaining the message that the producers are trying to convey. I esepcially appreciated the different charts that he laid out, including p. 37 and a comparison of The Matrix, Christianity, and Greek religion. Very helpful.
I found myself agreeing with Godawa in many places, including his analysis of various films. At other places, I found myself disagreeing out loud. Besides disagreeing with his analysis of certain films, let me give one example where I did not click with Godawa. In the appendix, much space was used to show how the Bible has sex, violence, and profanity, thus almost making it seem that watching practically any movie would be A-OK. He tempers this, especially in the last few pages, but I still think it's apples and oranges if we were to say that we can watch whatever we want because such issues are dealt with in the Bible. In a way Godawa acknowledges this and says that "a sense of balance is what a Christian needs...Christians tend to be either cultural gluttons or cultural anorexics. It seems we either avoid all movies or watch too many of them." I agree with him that, if we pick our movies wisely, there is much to gain.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Michael Dalton VINE VOICE on September 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
"God loves movies," Brian Godawa writes in the first sentence of Hollywood Worldviews. He goes on to explain that, "Movies are visually dramatic stories, and in the Bible the dominant means through which God communicates his truth is visually dramatic stories--not systematic theology, or doctrinal catechism or rational argument."

Like it or not, "In some ways, television, music and the movies are the modern arena of ideas." In light of that, Godawa advocates "interacting with the culture" rather than the two extremes of "avoiding it or embracing it." He favors a middle ground that encourages discernment but avoids reducing movies to just a set of ideas that are good or bad. "My goal," he writes, "is to help the viewer discern those ideas that drive the story to its destination and see how they influence us to live our lives--to understand the story behind the story. But we must be careful in our discernment not to reduce a movie merely to its worldview, as if knowing the idea is enough to understand it.... It is `entering into' the story where one comes into true contact with that worldview, not through mere rational analysis. This book is not a call to praise or condemn films simply because of their `message.' Rather, by learning to be more aware of worldviews, we will be more equipped to appreciate the finer elements of what is going on in our movie-watching experience." A good story is something you experience.

With that end in mind, Godawa educates the reader about the various elements of story, including the worldviews that shape them. Fundamental principles are reinforced with examples from different films, which makes this an excellent resource. There is a wealth of scholarly analysis covering several hundred films that can easily be found by using the index in the back.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Stephen R. on August 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
Brian Godawa suggests that movies are to contemporary culture what the Areopagus was to Ancient Greece -- a significant arena of ideas and communication. Indeed, through well-crafted storytelling, movie makers communicate powerfully to influence the way we think and behave. We must, then, think rationally and reflectively about the films we watch, especially since each of us should understand and impact culture for the good rather than thoughtlessly imbibe whatever culture brings to us. But learning such a discipline requires training and effort. Godawa's unique book offers just the insightful teaching we need to practice meaningful, effective reflection on what for many of us has been simply passive entertainment.
He exhorts and equips us to move beyond our justified worries over Hollywood's exploitation of sex and violence to recognize and properly evaluate the more powerful and frequently destructive influences of worldview in film. For instance, an erroneous and devastating assumption of the movie AI: Artificial Intelligence -- that consciousness, and ultimately humanity, "naturally emerges out of the inherent properties of matter" -- may well seem not only more plausible but desirable to many viewers through experiencing this film.
Under Godawa's clear teaching, we enjoy far richer movie watching experiences in learning to engage a film with valid questions and to apply sound principles of discernment and evaluation. (For example, in The Matrix people are deceived about reality -- how could they have known otherwise? Are they knowingly deceived? What tests for truth might we employ to discern whether our own understanding of reality is worth maintaining?) Best of all, throughout his intelligent discussion he shows us how to employ those principles through myriad incisive and often provocative film analyses (some of which have ignited much thoughtful debate in our family over story, art, and interpretation).
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More About the Author

Brian Godawa is the screenwriter for the award-winning feature film, To End All Wars, starring Kiefer Sutherland. It was awarded the Commander in Chief Medal of Service, Honor and Pride by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, won the first Heartland Film Festival by storm, and showcased the 2003 Cannes Film Festival Cinema for Peace.

Most recently, he wrote and directed the documentary Wall of Separation for PBS, Lines That Divide: The Great Stem Cell Debate for CBC Network, and School's Out: Political Correctness Vs. Academic Freedom for Boulevard Pictures. He also adapted to film the bestselling supernatural novel The Visitation by best-selling author Frank Peretti for Ralph Winter (X-Men, Wolverine).

Mr. Godawa's scripts have won multiple awards in such screenplay competitions as Carl Sautter, The Nicholl Fellowship, Austin Heart of Film, Fade-In, Worldfest, Writer's Network, Chesterfield Writer's Film Project, Columbus Discovery Awards and Reader's Digest Screenplay Competition.

He gives lectures at high schools and colleges on screenwriting, as well as the art of watching and writing movies. He has had his articles on movies and philosophy published in magazines around the world, most recently winning First Place from the EPA for his article on the philosophy of The Matrix.

His popular book, Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films with Wisdom and Discernment (InterVarsity Press) is used as a textbook in schools around the country. His book Word Pictures: Knowing God Through Story and Imagination (IVP) addresses the power of image and story in the pages of the Bible to transform the Christian life. His new novel series, the saga Chronicles of the Nephilim is an imaginative retelling of the primeval history of Genesis, the secret plan of the fallen Watchers, and the War of the Seed of the Serpent with the Seed of Eve.

His main website is www.godawa.com.
His novel website is www.ChroniclesoftheNephilim.com
Details on his books, articles and seminars can be found at www.hollywoodworldviews.com

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