“Ironically, it sometimes takes hard work to find wholesome leisure” (Elder D. Todd Christofferson, “Reflections on a Consecrated Life,” October 2010 General Conference).
Latter-day Saints, as a whole, are great patrons of the arts. I’ve never known a group of people to enjoy uplifting entertainment more than we do. Unfortunately, as Elder Christofferson notes above, sifting through the enormous selection of choices to find the good stuff can prove exhausting even for the most media-savvy believer.
Take movies, for example. All too often if a film is “clean” it is poorly written, woefully-acted, and shoddily-made. “Cheesy” is the word that comes to mind. Or it may have a terrific overall message and is expertly-crafted, but the violence, language, or suggestive content renders it unsuitable for many (if not all) viewers. Cinema that edifies in its moral instruction and stimulates the mind and heart with its artistry, all while proving inoffensive, seems hard to come by.
Of course, through the years there have actually been hundreds of films which fit this satisfying description. What has been lacking, until now, is a resource to locate them all easily. That is why I am pleased to announce my new book 250 Great Movies for Latter-day Families, scheduled for publication through Cedar Fort Publishing in the fall of 2013.
The book is finished, or at least the first manuscript is (there will be some revisions, I’m sure), and I can attest to the truth of Elder Christofferson’s words: it took a lot of work to find all of these movies, watch them, and write the reviews. After a few opening chapters which elaborate on film content, artistry, and eternal truths, the book contains 250 reviews of films which, I believe, align with the media standards set forth in For the Strength of the Youth.
These films span all eras and (nearly) all genres of film, directing readers to beloved classics like The Ten Commandments and Singin’ in the Rain, modern favorites like How to Train Your Dragon and Star Wars, literary adaptations like Pride and Prejudice and The Jungle Book, and oft-forgotten masterpieces like Ghandi and Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights (the original romantic comedy). The book includes foreign films, Hollywood hits, and the very best of faith-based cinema.
Each review is broken down into an artistic review, a content overview, and Gospel messages to discuss (complete with scriptures and quotes by general authorities of the Church which relate to the movie’s themes). Readers familiar with my reviews for Meridian (as well as for mormonmovieguy.com) will recognize the format. Though I’ve selected only films which, in my opinion, excel in the categories of craftsmanship, entertainment value, and wholesome content, I write my reviews in the aforementioned format so that readers can make their own informed decisions.
If the book is successful, it will hopefully spawn a second volume (which, I presume, might be called 250 More Great Movies for Latter-day Families), building an ever-growing resource for Church members, and others, who wish to seek out terrific cinema that will inspire rewarding conversation instead of diluted spirituality.
As stated previously, the book doesn’t come out until this fall. So why, you might ask, do I announce it now? Frankly, I need your help to make the book a success. I want it to fulfill its purpose, namely, to help families find wholesome cinema that can be used as a springboard for Gospel discussion. I also want to write another one (I said it was work, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun!). You can help me to build an audience for the book by “liking,” “tweeting,” and “sharing” this article. You can “like” the Mormon Movie Guy Facebook page to get updates on my articles and reviews, both for Meridian and for mormonmovieguy.com. You can follow me on Twitter for the same purpose. Most importantly, if the book and my online content are things that you support and are excited about, please tell your family and friends. With your support, I’m happy to seek out and recommend worthwhile entertainment for as long as I can find it.
250 Great Movies for Latter-day Families will be available for purchase in the fall of 2013.