Message Behind the Movie: How to Engage with a Film Without Disengaging Your Faith


Some Christians denounce nearly every move that Hollywood produces; others celebrate even the most morally and artistically questionable. While most Christians can agree on the cultural importance of films, very few are able to interpret movies with insight and understanding. Apologetics professor and film lover Doug Beaumont wants moviegoers to become more informed viewers, by better grasping the cinematic techniques and genre considerations that filmmakers use to communicate their central themes. He also wades ...

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The Message Behind the Movie: How to Engage with a Film Without Disengaging Your Faith

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Some Christians denounce nearly every move that Hollywood produces; others celebrate even the most morally and artistically questionable. While most Christians can agree on the cultural importance of films, very few are able to interpret movies with insight and understanding. Apologetics professor and film lover Doug Beaumont wants moviegoers to become more informed viewers, by better grasping the cinematic techniques and genre considerations that filmmakers use to communicate their central themes. He also wades into hot-button issues of nudity, violence, and language in movies, helping Christians to more carefully evaluate celluloid depictions of sin.

Packed with quote and excerpts from many of Hollywood's most successful films, and from some of the indie favorites that have gained cult followings, The Message Behind the Movie is a fun and enlightening look at the art from that defines our age.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher

Doug Beaumont helps readers understand that a reasoned and balanced approach to film consumption will help both viewers and Hollywood to consistently encourage the good, true, and beautiful in film and in the marketplace of ideas.
-Mark Joseph, Columnist and Host:, The Huffington Post,

This book helps readers understand and appreciate movies and storytelling, and provides a concise, commonsense application of apologetics to film.
-Brian Godawa, Author and Screenwriter: Hollywood Worldviews, To End All Wars

Doug has written an insightful, enjoyable, and practical guide for thoughtfully watching film.
-Sean McDowell, Teacher, Speaker, and Author: Apologetics for a New Generation

The Message Behind the Movie is a welcome companion for anyone interested in the relationship between faith and film.
-Robert Velarde, Author: Conversations with C.S. Lewis, The Heart of Narnia

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802432018
  • Publisher: Moody Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/28/2009
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

DOUGLAS M. BEAUMONT is pursuing a Ph.D. at Southern Evangelical Seminary in Matthews, NC. He teaches Bible and Philosophy at Southern Evangelical Bible College and speaks around the country on various topics related to Christianity. His work has been published in The Christian Apologetics Journal, The Baker Dictionary of Cults and World Religions, and he was the one of the only Protestant writers to be included in The Best Catholic Writing 2006. He lives with his wife, son, bird, and dog in Charlotte, NC.
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Table of Contents

Prologue: What's the Story?

ACT ONE: Watching and Understanding

Chapter 1: Can Anything Good Come Out of Hollywood?

Chapter 2: How a Story is Told vs. What a Story Tells

Chapter 3: Story: Structure, Sights, and Sounds

Chapter 4: Style: How the Story Moves

Chapter 5: Suppositions: The World of the Story

Chapter 6: Significance: The Moral of the Story

ACT TWO: Evaluating and Discussing

Chapter 7: Discussing Movies Religiously: Is Salvation Self Realization or Sincere Repentance?

Chapter 8: Discussing Movies Philosophically: Is Reality Virtual or Veritable?

Chapter 9: Discussing Movies Theologically: Is God a Delusion or Deity?

Chapter 10: Discussing Movies Scripturally: Is the Bible Mythological or Miraculous?

ACT THREE: Applauding and Avoiding Movies

Chapter 11: What Should We Then Watch?

Resources/Contact Information

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 14, 2009

    A MUST Read!

    Allow me to preface my review of Doug Beaumont's latest title, The Message Behind the Movie, by first providing some background as to my own evolution of perspectives regarding Christians and Hollywood. I grew up in a vehemently separatist, fundamentalist branch of Christianity. As I grew in age and interests I would often times find my desire to see the latest summer blockbuster running in opposition to the wishes of and teaching and warnings of my pastors. The mantra "Nothing good can come from Hollywood" reverberated throughout their sermons as they would wax eloquent on the evils of motion pictures. So, needless to say, this anti-cinema conditioning caused a great deal of confusion in my life and especially my newfound life in ministry. I would be told that if a Christian attends a film he/she has disqualified themselves from spiritual leadership and service to the church.

    As I struggled with these issues I began to see examples throughout the Scriptures in which Paul quoted from popular media (I realize I am using this term anachronistically) in his presentation of the Gospel to a pagan world. As I wrestled with the methodology of Paul in contrast to the teaching I was so indoctrinated with I stumbled across There I found that Doug's blog provided clear and coherent answers to the claim that "Nothing good can come from Hollywood." Rather than abandoning the popular media, Doug provided a Biblical framework in which a believer could evaluate a film, digest the good elements and use various points in communicating the Gospel. Finding someone so balanced on the Scriptures and with such a positive outlook on a Christian's ability to be "in the world" but not "of the world" was quite refreshing and encouraging. That was a number of years ago now and yet I remember even then thinking, "This guy REALLY needs to write a book about this stuff!" Well, finally Doug has and I Am excited to be one of the reviewers selected by Moody Publishers to give my take on this excellent text.

    I am very grateful for The Message Behind the Movie. The nascent form of this book found in Doug's blog impacted my life at a critical point and I believe this text will impact many believers struggling with the same issues I had to face. Now, as an instructor of Apologetics and Theology I plan to use this text as an example of how one can critically engage the culture and remain relevant without losing one's faith. This is a MUST read!

    See my full review @

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 1, 2009

    Unique, Interesting, Relevant

    Should Christians avoid all movies, dismissing them as bad, evil, or garbage? Should they watch any movie without any regard for content, dismissing the idea that they can be violated by anything on a screen? Or is there a way to evaluate movies, a way to judge them, a way to filter what should be watched, and finally, a way to use them as a launching pad for apologetics and evangelism? This middle way is precisely what the author provides in The Message behind the Movie.

    The book is divided into three sections, which are called 'Acts'.

    'Act One' is about watching and understanding movies. This section covers movies as an art form, which includes story structure, characters, the visual aspects of a film, and the sounds. All of these elements, Beaumont argues, are important to understand the story of a movie, which is the first step to understanding its message. He also covers other elements of style such as profanity, violence, nudity, sex, and a very interesting and valuable exploration of the MPAA rating system. Finally, Beaumont talks about the suppositions and worldview of a movie, which form the message behind the movie.

    'Act Two' is about evaluating and discussing movies. This particular section deviates from talking directly about movies and provides the tools (Christian theology and worldview) needed in order to properly evaluate the movie for the purposes of evangelism and apologetics. The author demonstrates, through use of examples, how to evaluate a movie philosophically, theologically, and biblically.

    'Act Three' discusses the question of what Christians should and should not watch. Instead of giving black and white rules for how to choose a movie, the author gives general principles. These principles serve as tools that Christians can draw from in order to make a decision on which movies to watch. Some of these principles are given by way of clarifying often misunderstood scriptures about the avoidance of evil, and how to properly understand them in their context.

    Some of the features of the book include reflective questions at the end of each chapter, which can be used for groups, book clubs, or private study. Throughout the book, movie references are made which demonstrate how the principles of the book apply to actual movies. Also, the author does an excellent job of creating a mock dialogue with characters who engage in a conversation about watching movies, the significant issues that arise from movies, and opportunities to use them for apologetics and evangelism. The dialogue demonstrates the value of story telling while at the same time bringing together the contents of the book and having them being played out through characters.

    If there was ever a need for a book on how Christians should not only evaluate movies, but should first value them as a legitimate and worthy form of art to be enjoyed, Doug Beaumont's The Message Behind the Movie is that book. The author makes it clear that increasing our pleasure in movie watching is not the primary goal, but rather to learn how to evaluate a movie in light of Christian beliefs. This involves discerning the message of the movie revealed by its story; the structure and the assumed worldview of that story. Only then can Christians evaluate whether the movie presents a strong Christian, non-Christian, or anti-Christian worldview, which they can then respond to and use as a starting point for apologetics and evangelism.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 11, 2009

    Every Christian who is serious about engaging their culture needs this book

    Christians need to be serious about engaging our culture in a relevant and yet non-confrontational way. We need to find common ground with those who don't share our faith. What better way to do that than to use modern movies as a launching point for spiritual conversations?

    This book is exactly what we, as Christians, need at this point in time. I'm probably not the only one who has wondered if there is any benefit to seeing movies anymore. As is pointed out in the foreword for this book, Christians generally tend to fall into one of two extreme positions: either they avoid modern cinema completely, or they abandon discretion completely.

    I have to admit it--I was one of those people who thought that we should protect our minds at all cost, and, for the most part, avoid a majority of the movies we find in our theatres these days. For example, one of the movies I recently saw was "The Watchmen." I hated it! I didn't see that it had any redeeming value whatsoever. The movie is filled with gratuitous violence and gore, profanity, and sex. What redemptive value could such a movie offer? While I still believe that this is not the best movie for Christians to see (and I should note that Mr. Beaumont makes the points that a) you should read reviews before you actually go and see a movie (which I didn't do); and b) he's not saying that we should see anything and everything--there is a line that we shouldn't cross), I have recognized the redemptive value of a movie like this: that being that a) Americans are obsessed with super-heroes, which is an indication of our need to be saved; and b) no human hero is beyond the need of being saved themselves.

    The Message Behind the Movie dissects the "formula" (for lack of a better term) of the screen-writing process, and will instruct the reader in how to a) evaluate the movie from a Christian worldview; b) find elements within cinema which reveal deep-seated human needs and desires; and c) how to intelligently engage the unbeliever in a discussion about the movie. There is plenty to be learned from reading this book pertaining to apologetics as well, including some basics on defending the reliability and authority of Scripture and the existence of God. It also introduces the reader to some very simple ways of questioning the post-modern philosophy of our age.

    This is really the first book of its kind--the only other book like this in the past 100 years would probably be Francis Schaeffer's "Art and the Bible." Kudos to Mr. Beaumont for this much-needed, very unique work. I whole-heartedly recommend this book for all Christians!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2009

    Great Book!

    In this book Beaumont explains some of the techniques used in producing movies as well as how those techniques are used to unfold the story on the screen. For example, I was amazed to find out that the musical score in The Fellowship of the Ring so precisely tracked the progression of the plot. But besides giving the reader insights and tools for increasing movie-watching enjoyment, Beaumont explains to Christians how they can analyze movies beyond merely the stylistic elements in order to understand the worldview of the movie and message that drives the movie. The book also contains helpful 'coffee-shop' dialogues that show how one can use great movies to discuss universal themes ultimately leading to the reality of God and divinity of Christ.
    A good read for parents and youth leaders who are concerned with the media's influence over young adults but don't think complete isolation from the world is the answer. Also, pastors and theologians may enjoy the weightier aspects of the book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted July 19, 2009

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    Posted May 4, 2009

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