In 1999 people were wondering why so many films were infused with religious messages. In 2006 an article came out called Hooray for Holy – wood that talked about how so many films were saturated with religious imagery and themes. Now, in 2010, yet another article called As Spiritual Films Bring in the bucks, Hollywood gets more religious. It seems like people keep wondering why Hollywood is “all of sudden” very religious. I have a little theory. I would argue that Hollywood has always and will always make commercially successful films with Christian themes. Let’s just take a spark notes historical look at Hollywood films and Christianity.
Church Films – Early 1900s
In the early 1900s, churches were among the first in the U.S. to make films and show them. They would show them in their churches. The film theater design was based on the church design.
Hollywood and the Legion of Decency – 30s to 70s
From the 1930s – 1970s, the Catholic Church monitored Hollywood. Almost everything successful that came out of Hollywood evoked some sort of Christian thematic structure.
Christ-like Films – 70s to 90s
From the 1970s – 1990s, Hollywood filmmakers had become well trained at making “Christ-like” characters. Not only is this a result of over 40 years of Christian monitoring, but Christopher Vogler and Joseph Campbell began influencing screenwriters and filmmakers with spiritual Christ-like semiotics: Campbell in the 60s and 70s with his book Hero with a Thousand Faces and Vogler in the 80s and 90s with his book The Writer’s Journey. Campbell’s biggest disciple was George Lucas and Vogler heavily influenced Disney movies.
2000 and Beyond
These recent articles are asking why but after a century of spiritual influence, I would have to ask “why not?”