Monday, October 5, 2009

"The deadly aesthetic sin of sentimentality"

Commenting on a report that the quality of Christian films is getting better, Gene Edward Veith notes that the film makers would profit from studying those who have actually affected people outside the Christian cultural ghetto:
.... OK, I’m glad the filmmakers are focusing on better quality. I salute you. But take some lessons from the past. I am currently teaching a course entitled “Major Christian Authors,” covering such authors as Dante, Spenser, Herbert, Bunyan, Hopkins, Chesterton, T.S. Eliot, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, Graham Greene, Flannery O’Connor. NONE of them wrote about people’s personal problems. There is not one terminally ill orphan in the whole lot. No scenes about broken marriages or friends dying or sports teams winning the big game. These classic Christian authors—who actually did influence their cultures—saw Christianity as being rather more than a means of solving life’s problems, and none of them lapsed into the deadly aesthetic sin of SENTIMENTALITY.

These aesthetically more ambitious movies still have a soft-spot for sentimentality. Try making movies that do not attempt to make us cry. That means no diseases, no thrilling comebacks, no dying children. Try making movies that are exciting, or send our imaginations reeling, or that are funny. You will be surprised how well such stories can express and even explore the Christian faith.
Christian movies try to be better, but still. . . — Cranach: The Blog of Veith