News / Arts & Entertainment

Biblical Epics Flourish in Hollywood

Religious Films: Not All Created Equali
X
Penelope Poulou
March 19, 2014 12:20 AM
It's been called "the greatest story ever told," so it's not surprising that for more than a century Hollywood has turned to the Bible for inspiration. The trend of faith-based films remains strong with the movie industry producing 16 such films this year alone. Many of them may be forgotten just weeks after their release, while others could become huge blockbusters. So what makes religion-inspired movies successful? VOA's Penelope Poulou has more.
Religious Films: Not All Created Equal
Penelope Poulou
It's been called the greatest story ever told, so it's not surprising Hollywood has turned to the Bible for inspiration for almost a century.

The trend toward these kinds of films remains strong; the movie industry expects to produce 16 faith-based movies this year alone. Many of them may be forgotten just weeks after their release, while others have the potential to become blockbusters.

So what makes religion-inspired movies successful?

Son of God, about the life of Jesus, opened recently and is doing very well at the box office. Churches around the country are renting movie theaters for their members to watch the film.
 
American University Philosophy professor Martyn Oliver says films that offer a popular depiction of Jesus target Christian audiences.
 
"There is not a singular or particular vision on the part of the filmmakers," Oliver said. "That is, they are giving you what you already think you know."
 
The financial risk for the filmmakers was lessened because the Christian market was tested in 2004 with The Passion of the Christ. Mel Gibson's controversial movie grossed more than $1 billion dollars worldwide.
 
"He had an aggressive marketing campaign in Protestant and, particularly, large evangelical churches prior to the release of The Passion of the Christ,” Oliver said.
 
Gibson also had artistic vision. His violent and polarizing portrayal of the passion of Jesus mesmerized people the world over, Oliver said. Son of God is not on par with Gibson's film and its targeted audiences could thin out soon.
 
Unlike Son of God, a redemptive, friendly story about Jesus, Darren Aronofsky's Noah is a heavy, apocalyptic story about the end of the world.

"Aronofsky's decision to focus on the wrath of God, and that's a God we maybe don't want to think about," Oliver said. "He's an unfriendly God, and in that sense his [Aronofsky's] reading of the Noah text is not a Christian Noah."
 
Aronofsky's Noah is more faithful to the Genesis story accepted by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike. But the film may not become a hit. It received a lukewarm reception in Mexico from a mostly Catholic audience that found it too dark and not reverential enough to Noah's character.

Many Muslims also oppose the film, because Islam prohibits visual depictions of its prophets.
 
However, Noah might resonate with viewers who relate to its environmental message, "to protect nature or perish by it." The fact that the film has impressive special effects does not hurt either.
 
Even for the best religious films, success remains elusive, according to Oliver.
 
But if a film has artistic vision, a powerful message and a captivating story, watching it can be a feast for the eyes and soul.

You May Like

Unpaid Kurdish Fighters Sign of Economic Woes

Sharp cuts in Kurdistan's budget by Baghdad, falling oil revenue, coping with refugees, inflated public sector have hit regional economy hard More

Koreas Exchange List of Envoys for Family Reunion Talks

Officials will discuss date, venue and number of participants for reunion; Seoul hopes to hold event late this month More

China Targets 197 in Online Speech Crackdown

Nearly 200 punished for 'spreading rumors' online in ongoing crackdown on free speech More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: alfredo ibarra barajas from: mexico
March 26, 2014 5:38 PM
This movie of Noah is not what I was expecting to be, I thought it would be like The Ten Commandments of Charlton Heston, where the versión was not an iconoclast, as this movie of Noah is. I have Heard here in my country commentaries in the negative, that the movie is not close to the Genesis that we were taught in primary. Maybe for that reason the pope Francis declined an invitation to watch it.. This Noah does not come across as the one I read in my youth. That one was more likable. And I never saw pictures of those Stone creatures. Defintevely not.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 02, 2015 6:19 PM
Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

Hamilton Live: Dustbowl Revivali
|| 0:00:00
...  
🔇
X
September 02, 2015 12:19 PM
Dustbowl Revival is an American roots orchestra with eight full-time members who performed live at "The Hamilton" songs from their new CD, "With A Lampshade On."

Dustbowl Revival is an American roots orchestra with eight full-time members who performed live at "The Hamilton" songs from their new CD, "With A Lampshade On."