So after much discussion it was decided that our church (Fitzroy Presbyterian in Belfast) should start its own film club. This is not purely for film addicts but an opportunity for those within the church community to get together in a social setting and enjoy a good film, catch up with friends and hopefully make some new ones. Also by using our local cinema as a venue we hope to become a more visible presence in the community we serve.
However once the idea becomes reality and the green light is given then the power and responsibility aspect comes into play. I have am co-ordinating operations and have selected our first film. It took me a while as I wrestled with the question – ‘how do you choose a suitable film for a church film club’? Throwing myself in at the deep end I opted for (the Nick Cave scripted) Lawless.
This tale of brother bootleggers and gangsterism could potentially be one of the films of the year. Certainly there is enough star power to make it a contender (and Shia Leboeuf is in it too). On making my selection and letting people know the plan I THEN decided to watch the trailer and panicked. There was a lot of guns, and lots of shots of punches being thrown and I wondered have I got this right? Is a film which contains a lot of violence suitable for a church film club.
I came to the conclusion that it will depend on how the portrayal of this violence is played out on screen. Often violence can be intentional in order to give insight into a particular character and their mindset.
Martin Scorsese is the master of this. His films are often violent but,for me, never without purpose. Watch Joe Pesci’s performance in Goodfellas or Raging Bull, these are perfect examples of violence being used to highlight the unstable nature of the individual portrayed. Without it the character would lack threat and menace. The audience would never be on edge at the appropriate moments when he is on screen if his violent tendencies were not correctly portrayed.
Violence is not something Christians should shy away from (the Bible is full of it!) and the world we live in is becoming increasingly violent. Conversations need to be had about its use in film and how the far reaching impact can be negative if used in the wrong way.
Hopefully our film club will provide the platform for that. I will keep you posted as to how we get on.