Sunday, February 19, 2012

Redemptive Visual Storytelling: A Review of HOLLYWOOD WORLDVIEWS by Brian Godawa

Photo Credit: Intervarsity Press

I've always loved storytelling, and though I usually prefer reading stories, I enjoy some really well done visual storytelling as well. The Harry Potter movies, The Dark Knight, and Inception are some of my favorite movies, and LOST and Smallville were my favorite TV shows when they were on. Once Upon a Time is my current favorite. All great stories with high concepts that draw viewers into something big. My favorite types of stories are the ones where the writers create a whole mythology that the story they're telling takes place in.

In his book HOLLYWOOD WORLDVIEWS: WATCHING FILMS WITH WISDOM AND DISCERNMENT, screenwriter Brian Godawa explores the area of visual storytelling through the lens of faith in Jesus. Specifically, Godawa looks at how Christians are to watch films and television and the criteria of what qualifies as something we should or should not watch. Godawa asserts that storytellers write from their personal worldview and their stories reflect this. Hollywood worldviews often clash with the Christian worldview. Therefore, not only do we need to be firmly established in our own biblical worldview, we need to understand why other worldviews don't line up with our own. HOLLYWOOD WORLDVIEWS was written so that Christians will take seriously the entertainment choices they're consuming and make wise decisions about it. After all, there are many movies and television shows that Christians shouldn't embrace.

What I loved the most about this book is the chapter that explores story patterns. Godawa points out that all stories have redemption as their core. The difference in worldviews is about how redemption is achieved.

Godawa explores different worldviews such as existentialism and postmodernism and how these are reflected in certain movies. He also shows how many of the things we're uncomfortable with in movies are present in the biblical narrative, though just because something is in the Bible doesn't mean we should watch it as entertainment.

After a very interesting exploration of how Jesus and Christianity are portrayed in popular movies, Godawa gives some ways to be discerning about our entertainment choices.

Like Godawa's other book WORD PICTURES, HOLLYWOOD WORLDVIEWS is a compelling look at the role of storytelling in the human experience and the ways that God communicates through images and metaphors. It helps readers see redemption and specifically Christian redemption as the foundation of the best stories. Christians can become more discerning moviegoers by reading this book.

I received this book for free for review from Intervarsity Press

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