Let There Be Movies is a unique website in that they review primarily secular movies from a Christian viewpoint. Their goal is to share the gospel with an audience who may never watch a Christian movie. Reviewer Gene Gosewehr explains the way they approach movie reviews.
First, introduce yourself and your role with Let There Be Movies.
I’m Gene Gosewehr and I run the show at LetThereBeMovies.com. My hope is that it comes across that I am just one of a handful of writers there, but I make sure we have content up two to three times a week, let the guys know when their reviews are due, get our stuff out there on social media, and all the rest of the nuts and bolts.
What is the mission of Let There Be Movies?
Our goal with LTBM is to write movie reviews from a Christian perspective, plain and simple. In our reviews we’ll give our not-so-professional opinion on the quality of the movie, but we’re also trying to make Christians think about some deeper elements that often get overlooked. We believe that in (almost) every movie there are some morally good story lines, some redeeming characteristics, or some spiritual elements that we as Christians can use to remind ourselves, and others, of the truthfulness of God and His word. We hope to encourage our readers to cling to the good, the just, the right things in life and flee from the immoral and selfish decisions that we often find the “typical” Hollywood movie glorifying.
How did you get the idea for the website?
I was at an apologetics conference in Wisconsin with Derek (fellow writer at LTBM) and we went to a break-out session about apologetics in social media. At the end of the session the speaker introduced us to his blog. It was about sports. I was very confused. Why would an apologetics teacher be showing us a sports blog? Then he showed how, through talking about sports, he was able to work in little bits of scriptural thoughts or lessons. Then he said if we’re interested in writing, write about what you know and love. My mind instantly shot to movies. I eventually worked up the courage to ask some friends, who I also knew loved movies, if they’d do this Christian movie review thing with me. The rest is history.
How do you select which movies to review?
It really is somewhat random. We all agreed to some general boundaries regarding violence, language, sexual content, etc. Not that we don’t review movies with any of those things, but if they completely overwhelm any kind of redeeming message then we don’t touch it. Other than that, we can pick just about whatever we want. We probably do one or two brand new releases per month, but we do some classics, comedies, action, etc. We tend to stick to mainstream movies to (hopefully) reach a larger crowd who hasn’t considered a Godly message in their movies, but we’ve also done a couple of Christian films.
Explain your rating system.
Boy, that was a task! The best explanation can be found on our site, http://lettherebemovies.com/ratings/ We only recently implemented it but it was probably six months in the making! Before we were just rating on a 5-point system, but with six writers that can be kind of confusing for a regular reader. We wanted to come up with a common standard that we could all reference to determine the rating, but was also unique to our site. I thought it would be cool to work in scripture somehow as a general and short explanation of the ratings. I first thought of the “lukewarm” passage from Revelation. That could definitely reference a so-so kind of movie. From there it was just a lot of keyword searches through online bibles and some slight re-wording, and there you have it.
What is the greatest challenge with reviewing secular movies from a Christian perspective?
Probably the same challenge that anyone writing a movie review would face, and that is going from just being entertained by a film to seeing it from an analytical standpoint. It’s easy to identify any moral successes or failures in a film, but now try to explain that through the lens of the Gospel. Maybe I have a sense of what I might do in some situation put forth in a movie, but what does scripture teach about that? Thinking more deeply about what “worldview” a movie may be putting out there, and why or how is that consistent or contrary to what Jesus tells us about God and the world. In short, each review can be a bit of a sermon in it’s own right, and preparing sermons is always a challenge!
We’re still struggling to get a lot of comments on each review, but when we do I’d say it’s about 80/20 on the positive side. Most comments just reference a point we made on the quality of the movie, but occasionally we’ll get someone who agrees or disagrees with some scriptural or theological point we’ve made. The real interesting responses usually come in our ‘moral dilemma dialogue’ feature. We examine a specific moral dilemma in a movie and usually give opposing views as to what people should do in that scenario. Those are a lot of fun to write up because it’s kind of like a debate. Responses we’ve gotten on a few of those have been very good.
That’s a good question. Having never made a film in my life I hesitate to be too critical here. I can’t imagine the amount of hours and work that go into putting together a feature length film, and I greatly admire those who strive to do that in an effort to spread some message of Christ. Having said that, I think most secular movies do a far better job of telling a story and allowing the audience to reach conclusions about the message and the characters on their own. Christian films inherently have a specific message they want the audience to capture. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it needs to be subtle and more relatable. Jesus describes us as the salt of the earth. Salt brings out flavor in food, but not if you pour out the entire shaker! Be subtle in the delivery of that message so people don’t feel like they’re being hit over the head with God, and I think we’ll see more people coming around to Christian films.
We’re always looking for more people with a deep love for God and movies (in that order) that would be willing to hop on board with us and write reviews on a regular basis. You may notice we’ve got the testosterone representation covered! So we’d welcome a Christian woman’s perspective especially! We’re also open to just about any collaborations with other Christian sites and of course we’d love your feedback on our reviews. 🙂