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Through a Screen Darkly Paperback – Bargain Price, February 5, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. If viewing a film is to be a spiritual exercise, one must be open to conversion. Overstreet, cultural commentator and film critic for Christianity Today, leads readers through his own cinematic conversion in this compelling volume. Overstreet's greatest gift is the masterful way he brings a spirit of discernment to the world of film. For example, determining when sex and violence is artfully employed or when it is just plain gratuitous is not always an easy task. Overstreet uses inspiring anecdotes from his life to show how the process of discerning the content and meaning of films takes patience, prayer and humility. He exhibits all of these traits through his movie commentaries and invites the reader to set aside biases about what is "properly" Christian and look deeper toward how cinema as an art form affects one's soul. This, according to Overstreet, is the work of God. At times, the author's stories distract from his main point, but his primary goal is one to be celebrated: "I have a strange compulsion to sit down between Christian culture and secular society, trying to help them understand each other—and ultimately, God—better through a shared experience of art." Two thumbs up! (Feb. 8)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


He writes beautifully in Through a Screen Darkly...routinely finding redemptive insights in unusual places. -- Youthworker Journal, May/June 2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 351 pages
  • Publisher: Regal Books (February 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830743154
  • ASIN: B002YNS1Y8
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,833,011 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jeffrey Overstreet is the author of The Auralia Thread, a four-volume fantasy series that includes "Auralia's Colors," "Cyndere's Midnight," "Raven's Ladder," and "The Ale Boy's Feast." He also writes about art and culture at, and his "memoir of dangerous moviegoing" is a book called "Through a Screen Darkly." Jeffrey's film reviews are published at twice monthly, and at In the past, he has written for Paste, Christianity Today, and various other periodicals. He regularly lectures at universities and conferences around the country, on many subjects including Storytelling, Fantasy, Play, and Film Interpretation. He lives in Shoreline, Washington, and works as the contributing editor for Seattle Pacific University's magazine Response.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gerry Brague on September 26, 2008
Format: Paperback
About 20 years ago, I gave myself a gift while I was in a Protestant seminary: during my last semester, I took a course entitled "Celluloid Theology" which was offered at a nearby Roman Catholic seminary which brought me to new understandings of faith and cinematic arts. Since then, I have dabbled in movies and theology, offering a movie discussion here and there in my ministry setting. Since that time long ago, I have kept in mind the lens of theology as I view movies even if I wasn't actively using the lessons I learned during that time with Father Tom Kane.

This book, though, has brought a whole new perspective to that journey. Jeffrey Overstreet has written a very readable, and often times moving, book about the intersection of Christianity (our culture's most apparent religious expression) and film (our most noticeable artistic expression these days). I especially appreciated the way that he modeled the use of movies in discussing how they reflect faith and sometimes expose us to divine truths.

I realize that the author and I probably come from somewhat different theological perspectives and I have to let go of my only frustration with the book. I feel that he spent too much of his writing explaining away why he appreciates and endorses movies that may be too over the edge for some Christians. I do understand and appreciate the fact that he gets way too much email criticizing him for pointing out the good of a particular movie that has too much violence/sex/foul language/you-name-it for the email writer. But I did grow a little tired of the repeated justifications that began to sound like apologies.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J. Sanders on March 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed this book, and how Jeffrey showed how to expand a Christian view of film in two ways: by looking beyond simple moralizing to take a deep look at how film can convey the spiritual longings and journeys taken by film characters, and by looking beyond Hollywood to explore the finest works from world cinema. I have had the chance to view a few of the films Jeffrey mentions in this book, but this book has helped me want to revisit these films to study them again using the artistic and filmic languages that were unfamiliar to me. I also have gained a list of films I want to add to my Netflix account. Seeing the best of world cinema, and learning how to view these films, nourishes the soul and expands my view of how God moves both in the human heart, and throughout the entire world.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Fritz Liedtke on February 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
I'm the kind of guy who watches all the extras on DVDs. I like to know how things are made, why things were done a particular way, how other creative types think, the history of a project.

I'm also the kind of guy that likes to ponder what things mean. I don't often find this type of discussion in DVD extras. But I do find it in Jeffrey's book Through a Screen Darkly. He deftly weaves a tapestry of meaning based on movies--our national art form. He discusses faith and film thoughtfully, and personally. From his childhood with the Muppets, to his daily work as a film reviewer, Jeffrey talks about things and their meaning in a personal way--not abstract, not theoretical, but through the use of his own coming-of-age-as-a-movie-viewer story. Jeffrey is insightful on many levels--he knows many of the people he writes about, and has conversed with them over time. He watches their films and discusses their deeper meaning. He also has a lot of fun discussing what he cares so passionately about. His is not a dry read, but one filled with light and truth.

I'd encourage you to get a copy; see what you've been missing. Things mean things, and Jeffrey's insight will help you see better, too. Even in the dark.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Doug on December 22, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This little book is a great gift to those of us who value understanding cultural consensus. I don't have time to watch all the movies that Jeffrey does. Yet his insights guide me in what stories I want "to get into." These reviews are invaluable to me. "Through a Screen Darkly" is one of the best "how to watch a movie" books I have seen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kimberley Browne on September 25, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book will be of great help in sorting through the plethora of movie choices available. I am very impressed by the author's recommendations,and the intelligence and spirituality behind them. I will most definitely be using this resource in choosing films to watch.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Nace Y. Lanier on March 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
Have you ever wondered how some people can just soak in movies? They go to the threater and its like they just made a new friend with the film they just saw. While you go and enjoyment some entertainment. Both ways of viewing are good but hey, we all could use a new friend. Jeffery Overstreet helps us bridge the gap between just watching another movie and connecting to another perspective and deeper meaning through viewing movies as art.

Overstreet writes a very accessable and enjoyable journey in film through the book Through a Screen Darkly. He is not a film snob in belittling popular movies. He actually helps the reader see some great themes in mainstrean movies that he or she may have overlooked. But he also is ready to challenge the reader with films that a "normal" person may not have come across. The greatest part of the book is that he doesn't just suggest movies that one should experience. He instead walks you through his personal journey in movie appreciation and helps the reader to learn what can be gathered in extraordinary movies.
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