religious films

the church times has just published a list of what it calls the top fifty religious films. i was on the panel that decided the films – it takes a fairly narrow definition of what constitutes a ‘religious’ film – the paper wanted to include only films which make their mysticism explicit (perhaps a contradiction in terms).

it was, however, a fun exercise, and while i didn’t endorse the inclusion of each film on the list, and would have added one or two more, i think it’s a pretty interesting selection. check it out here and feel free to comment below about what you think should and should not be there.


10 responses to “religious films

  1. Good to see Bresson, Dreyer and Tarkovsky represented but I would have expected to see ‘Ordet’ there and am surprised at the choice of ‘The Sacrifice’ rather than ‘Andrie Rublev’. The other obvious omission would be Kieslowski’s ‘Decalogue’.

  2. I’m surprised that The Matrix (not the sequels) didn’t make this It’s heavy with messiah theme.
    I agree about Decalogue.

  3. I was going to make the comment about Ordet and Dekalog as well, but it’s certainly a good list, with a few films that I now think I need to go and see.

    Another list with a similar approach is the Arts and Faith top 100. As it has 50 more places its scope can afford to be a little wider (it includes TV films such as Jesus of Nazareth, and the religious aspects don’t have to be overt).

    Good to have the comments from the two Archbishops as well.



  4. Hello Gareth,
    er.. long time reader, first time caller etc. What an enviable job you have! Film has long been massively important to me and my spirituality, and it was genuinely exhilerating to see such a gathered collection of films which have moved and spoken to me. I was looking for ‘magnolia’ but didn’t find it in the list, though it is more broadly spiritual than overtly religious.
    The only other film from recent years I was really surprised wasn’t there, was ‘Munich’.


  5. Go on spill the beans… who were the other judges. There we some really dodgy choices in the l

  6. gareth higgins

    not a criticism of any of the other judges – whose names are in the article – i just don’t agree with all the nominated choices – and i’m sure the other judges don’t agree with all of mine either. magnolia wasn’t on board because the list was meant to be about films that might meet the traditional definition of ‘religious’. magnolia is certainly one of my favourite films, and deals with immense spiritual themes, but it didn’t feel right for this list.

  7. Given the religious rather than spiritual theme I can see why Magnolia would not make the list (superb though it is). But I would have thought that Ikiru falls into the same category so how did that get on?

  8. I would think that Field of Dreams would seem to fit into the same broadly spiritual category. It seems that the themes of redemption (and our need for it) run much stronger in Magnolia. But, I can see that it would be a tough list to compile.

    There is something in Field of Dreams that seems to resonate in most people I know. I tend to think of it as Deep calling out to Deep, our need to connect with a God that is part of our life journey and not above it. We have a need to know that our Story is connected to The Story and I always liked that about the film.

  9. Certainly it was another of those lists that’s going to generate debate! Personally I felt the premise missed the mark, and therefore the opportunity to be broad about its understanding of spirituality and cinema. But the list for what it is is ok. One quibble – the “rules” weren’t very fairly applied – ref mteaphors in The Crucible and Narnia/ TLTWATW. My only other query – how the heck did the Sound of Music make it in?!

  10. The Harbour of Ourselves

    can’t believe ‘dad, you wanna have a catch?’ is only number 23

    i weeping like a child just thinking about it….

    hope you are well good dr – father bell as usual was a treat