I think we all understand the power of the media and entertainment industry has to shape culture. So it is not surprising to see more and more movies coming out today with a strong Christian message. We have finally come to realize the potential and started putting money into projects and movies but many faith-based movies are still made on limited budgets and are not accepted by the mainstream critics or attended by much of anyone but believers. Most of those that I've seen, the message was just too in your face or the production way below the multi million dollar standards of the major movies today. Many seem to do the cause of Christ more harm than good.
That is why I was blown away by one movie that is now showing. Woodlawn is definitely the exception, by far the best movie I've ever seen in a long time. It is a well produced "Christian" movie without any compromise on the quality or message. And guess what? The critics actually like it! Over 90% of critics and 91% of audience give it a thumbs up on Rotten Tomatoes. When has a movie with a strong Chritian message gotten high marks from the mass critics?
There are several reasons why this movie may be a model for future Gospel centered films.
- Woodlawn is very well done, a quality production, well acted with well known actors including Jon Voight as Bear Bryant and Sean Astin (Lord of The Rings). The money was spent to produce a movie that would rival top box office films knowing that if they could produce a movie that was in the top 25 of the year, it would be seen all over the world and thereby its message would be communicated to hundreds of thousands of people.
- Its message is one that is very relevant to today (Overcoming racial violence and hatred). Woodlawn sheds light on the turmoil during the integration of an all white high school in Birmingham, Alabama in 1973. It tells the story of how a football team and a chaplain helped unite a team, school and city. We see history through the eyes of Tony Nathan, a young black student struggling to overcome racism to prove himself on the school's football team. (Tony goes on to become a successful running back for the Miami Dolphins.)
- The drama is compelling and the story is uplifting. Woodlawn will move you, inform, entertain, but most of all inspire you, because it is a story of how a team, school and city united to overcome racism and bigotry in the south.
- Although Gospel centric, it avoids taking any particular political side. It tells the story and lets the events speak for themselves, trying to portray historical figures accurately. Therefore it does not alienate half of its potential audience.
- The story is true. The movie is directed by Jon and Andrew Erwin. Their father Hank Erwin was the team chaplain portrayed by Sean Astin in the movie. The characters are real and the story is factual and often times in God's kingdom, truth is more amazing than fiction. That is the case with Woodlawn.
Take your family and friends (older children), go see it with your Life group, and take an unbeliever. It's message is one that we all need to hear, one that can transform our hearts and heal our nation!
Watch the trailer here. http://woodlawnmovie.com/