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Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films with Wisdom & Discernment (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 30. Juli 2009

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Hollywood's agenda in film 4. Januar 2003
Von E. Johnson - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
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. I found it interesting, though, that many of the movies talked about in the book are probably those movies I myself would avoid, either because they were lame (as many movie critics would attest) or are so morally objectionable that I would have to ask, Can you really get anything good out of a dumpster full of garbage?
Two other criticisms are the inclusion of "director's cut" notes throughout the book, which in reality was multiple promotions of his web site. Several times I wished that Godawa would have further expanded on a particular topic in his book rather than ask us to go to his site. Isn't this why we buy a particular book? Couldn't he have expanded it to include the issues his sites had, including unpublished chapters? I appreciate the fact that he had other information available, but I didn't look up one reference. Finally, how could a book like this not include an index, especially one that would have incorporated the different movies talked about in the book. Since he talked about a movie more than once, I found myself thumbing backward to see what else he had said about that particular film. Not being able to look in an index was extremely frustrating. It might have also been a benefit for the reader if Godawa provided his personal ratings of the books he reviewed, perhaps giving us an idea of movies that he feels we should or should not see. These ideas would have given Hollywood Worldviews a more complete feel.
My criticisms aside, I still feel that this is worthy of a look by the discerning Christian moviegoer.
17 von 18 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
God loves movies 4. September 2009
Von Michael Dalton - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
"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. Practical exercises follow each section.

This book is written for the general public, but it also serves as a mini-course in philosophy covering the predominant worldviews of our time--existentialism, postmodernism, romanticism, monism, evolution, humanism and neo-paganism. The author is an expert at not only highlighting these ideas in films, but also in his knowledge of the many movies that he examines.

Seeing how pervasive and sometimes subtle these worldviews are made me wonder if I want to keep watching. After all, many of these ideas are antagonistic to a Biblical perspective, which can be a rarity in film. Sex, violence and profanity are frequent reasons cited for avoiding movies. However, early on the author addresses this issue showing that context is all-important.

Though some may fail to appreciate the distinction, offensive items may be a little more palatable if they are necessary to the story versus being an excess of the filmmaker. "The key," as Godawa writes, "is to ask some questions: Is this an educational approach to exposing evil? What are the context and consequences of the vice portrayed? Is it dehumanizing or humanizing? Does the movie celebrate evil, or does it ultimately condemn it? Is the sin displayed as an end in itself, or is it a part of the bigger picture that leads to redemption? Does the movie go overboard in detail, or is some detail necessary to emphasize the seriousness of our behavior?" We must also remember that no work of art, no sermon or anything in this life is perfect. Everyone and everything suffers from our fallen state. We are continually exposed to a mixture of truth and error.

Thankfully, this author is one that believes that growing in discernment does not have to take away from the benefits of watching a movie. We are better served when we understand what is being communicated through a film, but Godawa wants us to hear what is being said through movies. "Let them challenge us, allow them to help us see the world through different eyes, let them help us experience human existence in ways that we haven't before. By entering into the story, we can experience a part of human existence and truth that we cannot reduce to abstract ideas or philosophy." Movies are an artform and to the degree that they reflect truth, they transcend their format and enrich our lives. Godawa wants Christians to embrace the truth found in movies while being informed by a Biblical worldview.
9 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Understanding Culture 2. August 2002
Von Patrick Oswald - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
Hollywood Worldviews is a book that is as needed as it is almost singularly notable: a Biblically informed analysis of contemporary film that chooses to light a candle rather than curse the darkness. The author, Brian Godawa, is actively involved in the business of motion pictures as a screenwriter (a check of IMDB shows that he has a film, To End All Wars, due out soon). Godawa has clearly been influenced by one of the most influential Christian philosophers of the 20th Century - Francis Schaeffer - to whom in part he dedicates the book. He knows well Schaeffer's "Line of Despair" and does a brilliant job of demarcating it to a new generation to which film is the single most important cultural determiner.
Godawa begins by stressing the overarching importance of stories and mythology to film. Here he does an admirable job of explaining how influential mythologist Joseph Campbell's idea of the "Monomyth" has strongly informed modern filmmakers. He goes on to show where Campbell went astray in not seeing that the Monomyth is actually the suppressed image of the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. In this, Godawa reflects the thinking of the Apostle Paul who saw in the Pagan idols of his age the unrealized yearnings for true redemption. And this yearning for redemption brings forth what I think is one of the most powerful chapters in Hollywood Worldviews, in which Godawa makes the case that all motion pictures are mostly, if not always, about redemption of one type or another. I must admit that I was floored by this idea, as it seems so elemental once you have read Godawa's thesis. The ultimate Desire of life expresses itself in our stories.
Godawa then outlines nine structural elements of film storytelling. He shows how an understanding of these elements can be used as a scheme of film analysis that helps the viewer understand any particular motion picture in a deeper way. He applies these same structural elements to the Christian testimony in a delightful way that you must read.
Godawa spends the remainder of the book outlining how modern film reflects various worldviews (a worldview being something like the "story" we tell concerning where we come from, where we are headed, and how we ought to act in that journey - here I am borrowing some of Godawa's vocabulary). Here perhaps is where Godawa most earns his chops. He introduces the several worldviews and points out contemporary films that have reflected them. While his critiques are not coldly analytical (his point is not to be the Linnaeus of film), neither are they belligerent. At just the point where a Christian writer could turn against the medium, Godawa writes in a refreshingly conciliatory manner. As I read this section I thought that this most reminded me of the style and manner with which Schaeffer analyzed art and culture. Though not exactly the same, the tone is quite similar. I was very happy for it.
Hollywood Worldviews may well turn out to be a very durable book. The scheme of analysis and the essential message are timeless while the specific films may not be. Schaeffer's books on art and culture are still widely read and influential on Christian thought, even while some of the particular artistic movements he detailed have fallen out of favor. The grid of analysis that Schaeffer used, Biblically informed as it necessarily was, is what will forever stand. It is in this that Godawa's book may also stand for several generations, even after we no longer call it "film" - perhaps we'll call it "digi's" after digital formats take over, who knows.
I must also mention that the book contains very do-able chapter exercises called, Watch and Learn. These help to internalize the ideas in the book. They make the book even more reader-friendly for group use. On that thought, I would HIGHLY recommend this book to church youth groups. We cannot exaggerate the importance of film as an influence on culture - especially for younger viewers. This book can give young people the ability to think critically about what they are viewing. I wish I had had this book when I was a young man. I was a huge film fan who watched relatively uncritically all types of movies. I still retain my favorite film book from my youth, Hitchcock/Truffaut, because it so well spoke to "story" in film. Hollywood Worldviews ought to be a keeper for lots of younger film fans because it so well outlines the importance of "story" and how the Greatest Story influences and judges them all.
9 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Vital reading for movie goers 8. August 2002
Von Stephen Ross - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
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).
6 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Nail on the head ... 22. Juli 2002
Von David Bahnsen - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
For those people who are interested in applying the Word and Will of God to all aspects of their lives, this book truly identifies ways in which we can accomplish such a task as it pertains to our "movie watching". The emphasis the author maintains on Christian WORLDVIEW provides a guiding theme throughout the book, and provides illuminating lessons to those of us not wanting to be fooled, deceived, influenced, or manipulated at the hands of those who despise our own worldview. The book provides broad and historical applications, and represents quite a fascinating take on how we can watch movies from a Christian perspective - something I am sure most readers didn't even know was possible. Beyond a thin, fundamentalist take on Hollywood that simply "warns" us of the "bad" things in Rated "R" movies, the author provides a much more helpful analysis of the "bad" elements in most movie-maker's worldview, and explains the way in which art can be used to make claims for or against an entire particular way of thinking. Bottom line: a GREAT read for culturally minded Christians!!
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