Wednesday, September 22, 2010

There is a genre of movies called Catholic movies. This is usually meant to be a put down or for audiences who can’t “think for themselves.”.
This was not always the case. There was a time when Catholic movies were just called movies. This past weekend I saw the original 1951 version of Angels in the Outfield. The same basic plot line as the Disney version except the original was from the adult view point and was saturated with Catholic imagry. It is an enjoyable film. Then again it came out in a time when Bing Crosby was everybodies favorite priest. It was also the time when Archbishop Fulton John Sheen began his TV show to become one of the most watched shows of that era.

It’s not that Catholic movies are not being made and done well but it is not the norm and it’s hard to get widespread distribution. An exception is the work of Roland Joffé (who gave us The Mission) now comes out with There Be Dragons.

(From Studio synopsis) There Be Dragons follows the story of controversial Opus Dei founder, St. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, in a sympathetic portrayal of the Catholic organization, bravely contradicting the sentiment set by Dan Browns The Da Vinci Code.
In this action-packed film, Director Roland Joffe surrounds the priest with fictional characters and deals with universal themes of love, betrayal and redemption.

A sympathetic portrayal of the Catholic organization, shows you that that the studios lack any knowledge of faith and are suspect that anything can good come out of it.

If this is as good as some of his other films it should start some interesting discussions


A Secular Franciscan said...

Many of the Catholic movies produced lately have seemed to come from Europe - 13th Day, for example or Into Great Silence (both good films). Many are more devotional/hagiographic in nature. We own several devoted to folks like Padre Pio, St. Francis, etc, mostly Italian. The quality is uneven.

A good Catholic film should have at its soul Catholicism, but not of the preachy kind. The characters should be motivated by their faith. It's hard to show that in subtle ways, but it can be done.

Alan Capasso said...

A study could be made in how movies portray priests and nuns then and now. Take a look at how the priest is portrayed by Karl Malden in On the Waterfront compared to George Carlin as a cardinal in Dogma. Or the nuns in The Bells of Saint Mary's compared to the nuns in The Magdalene Sisters.

There was a time when Catholics would not have allowed this to happen so it begs the question why do we allow it now?