The Christian movie industry hasn’t always had the best reputation, but with the recent emergence of movies like “Fireproof,” “Courageous” and “Facing the Giants,” producers are working hard to change that.
However, among those in the media industry, the question remains: is there such a thing as a Christian film?
On Tuesday, March 20, during Spring Break, 15 ORU multi-media majors and professor Don Eland traveled to Oklahoma City to see a premiere of “Blue Like Jazz,” opening April 13 in theaters nationwide.
“I always wonder if those trips will be worth it when they get over, and this one definitely was,” said Eland.
Based off the 2003 New York Times best-selling book written by Donald Miller, “Blue Like Jazz: Non-Religious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality,” the movie is about a young man who tries to escape his Bible Belt upbringing by going to “the most godless campus in America,” Reed College in Oregon.
“I thought it was a great story of hope and faith,” said Eland. “It was very down to earth, very practical story and I just really enjoyed the production quality,”
MMI student Keith Jackson also enjoyed the film but was disappointed by the characterization.
“I thought they would have shown more of a turn from him being a Christian to being non-Christian, then choosing to be a Christian again and not so much an on and off switch.”
Despite positive reviews from the majority of the viewers, the film has raised controversy among groups of Christians who argue that the film lacks a clear message.
“I wouldn’t recommend it as a witnessing tool,” said junior MMI major Phil Newsome. “It could possibly confuse them, it wouldn’t help them grow. I think it’s the type of film for believers who want to discover more about what you think about Jesus and developing an opinion.”
Jackson disagreed and said he would recommend it to everybody.
“I thought that the film did do a good job of saying from a liberal, non-Christian secular school, ‘Hey, even some people here at this school do recognize Christ,’” said Jackson.
The film also brought out debate on what it means for a film to be labeled “Christian.”
“There shouldn’t be [Christian] films,” said Eland. “There are films. Some have more obvious Christian agenda and some don’t. Films with an obvious Christian agenda, in my opinion, are for believers and there’s nothing wrong with that, doing a film that’s building the faith of the brethren. But I personally would like to create visual stories for people who aren’t saved.“
“If the message screams out Christ or not, it doesn’t really differ either way,” agreed Jackson.
According to Eland, the film may not be sanctioned for a viewing at ORU due to its edginess.
While in Oklahoma City, the students were able to stop by EthnoGraphic Media, Mart Green’s film production company.
At the showing, students were able to meet the director (Steve Taylor), producer, lead actors and many support staff who were present at the screening.
“I think believers need to face the fact that it all starts with the money. You’ve got to have funding to make it happen,” said Eland. “I think it was successful because it was [produced by] brilliant, creative and exceptional people. Very few people could do what they did with the budget they had.”