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Top "Reformed" Movies?

National Review Online just released their top 25 "conservative" movies.  I've only seen a couple of them, which means I'm not very conservative, or I have different tastes than John J. Miller, or I don't see as many movies. 

In any case, the top NRO film was "Lives of Others." Hmmm . . .  Here's their list.  Click here: The Best Conservative Movies on National Review / Digital

If NRO can have a top 25 of "conservative" movies, maybe we Reformed types (OK, we'll let our Lutheran and evangelical friends participate as well) can come up with our own list.

So, if you can think of any movie which you think every Reformed Christian ought to see, post them in the comments section below, and after some times goes by, I'll post the list.

As for me, here are a few I can think of (in no particular order) . . . I'm sure I'll add more later on (as I think of them).

Tombstone (1993) -- What can I say?  This is my all-time favorite movie.  I'll never forget seeing Mike Horton, Rod Rosenbladt, and R.C. Sproul watching this on pay-per-view in the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver (during CBA).  That scene of male-bonding is permanently etched in my memory.  I'm sure RC can still recite the dialogue from memory.

Cromwell (1993) -- As a historical drama, its so-so.  But it is rather chilling to see soldiers advance to battle while singing Psalms and holding banners with Bible verses.  The scene of the Arminian king Charles I's execution (Alec Guinness) is haunting.  As the executioner pulls the king's head from the basket and holds it up, he declares, "Behold!  Your king."  Man, is that powerful.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy -- Easily the most beautifully-done films I've ever seen.  Doesn't the Dark Lord Sauron and his army of Orcs remind us of the totalitarian/fascist state? 

Lady Jane (1985) -- Lady Jane Gray was Queen of England for a mere nine days.  The scene when she's grilled about the number of sacraments is very powerful.  A bit of a "chick flick" but still quite good.

To End All Wars (2001) -- A very powerful film which wrestles with the question, "what does it mean to love our enemies?" especially when the scene is the brutality of war and forced labor in a prison camp. 

Luther (2003) -- OK, its not as good as the old black and white film Martin Luther (1953), and we can quibble about some of the content, but it does a great job of giving us a sense of the times.

Babette's Feast (1989) -- Two Danish girls (daughters of a Lutheran pastor) prepare a glorious feast in a drab Danish village of drab Danish people.  The drab folks prefer their drab existence to the glorious meal freely offered them.  The Lutheran and sacramental imagery is obvious--but even we Reformed folk can appreciate the point.

Reader Comments (58)

Hmm, I've seen 12 of the top 25 conservative movies, can't say I enjoyed all of them, but there are some good ones there. I've only seen 3 of the 25 also-rans though.

I've seen 3 items of your list--although I'd say 5 as you included a trilogy.
The Older B&W Luther is better, but they did do a reasonable job on the newer one, and there are some scenes that just made me want to cheer--the truth was expressed, and expressed well.

I agree on the Cromwell one as well--it took liberties, but was an engaging tale that again had scenes that inspired.
February 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpilgrim
What in thee heck is a "conservative" movie, and why is it ever so predictable that whatever was adapted from the allegories of Lewis or Tolkien is automatically on the list, made worse only by the fact that the Lion, Witch and Wardrobe stuff is B-grade? And why is nothing by the Coens anywhere to be found?

With a scene that seems to mock the misguided movement, I'm not sure how "Juno" is pro-life. I wonder if the same PoMo method of reading into authorial intent is being employed that actually finds "Horton Hears a Who" just as pro-life ("A person's a person no matter how small"). I suppose the need for cultural clout is so strong people see things that aren't really there. But just like Forrest Gump does Calvinism better than many Calvinists, Juno can hold her own:

Dad to Juno: "What's wrong with you?"

Juno to Dad: "I've lost faith in humanity."

Dad back to Juno: "Could you narrow that down a bit?"

While I have no idea what a "Reformed" film is either, good pick on "Babette's Feast."
February 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterZrim
No mention of my top two on the lists. "Becket" (1964) with Richard Burton, Peter O'Toole and John Gielgud. "Open Range" (2003) with Kevin Costner, Robert Duvall and Annete Bening.
February 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBob
The best Reformed Movie I have seen is called "Who Controls Salvation?". Its a James White vs. George Bryson debate. Does that count? If not, I guess Tombstone will do.
February 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKyle LaPorte
"Master & Commander" A rousing authentic historic adventure of a British naval Captain "Lucky" Jack Aubrey during the Napoleon war. It is remarkable to see moments of true manly fighting men bowing their head to recite the Lord's prayer at a post-battle funeral, hearing the hope of the resurrection "when the sea will give up her dead" -- plus an argument between the Captain (Calvinist?) defending the use of military discipline to govern the rebellious nature of men to the ship doctor's (an Enlightenment/Naturalist) opposition "there is no disdain in Nature." The two men embody the intersection of the culture war in their time yet posessing extraordinary respect and affection for eachother.

A "Reformed" film? Not quite...but a magnificent piece of storytelling visually and morally. A glorius film - real men, fearing God on the open sea.

February 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRobin
Onlly gripe I've got about "Tombstone" is an early reference to "RevelationS" as the source for Johnny Ringo's little musing in the Mexican village scene. Otherwise count me as one more who can recite the dialogue from memory. Not a good thing given how I'm not able to remember the stuff I need to...
February 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPB
We can't forget Braveheart.

I don't know if I would call any of these 'Reformed movies' (not even sure what that means), but the following are definitely worth seeing:

The Straight Story
Sophie Scholl
Godfather (I and II)
Searching For Bobby Fischer
12 Angry Men
Bridge on the River Kwai
The Princess Bride (just because)
To Kill a Mockingbird
Band of Brothers (not a typical movie, but a must-see)
The Usual Suspects
Hotel Rwanda

and last, but not least:

Napoleon Dynamite :-)
February 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKeith Mathison
I'm not sure what a 'Reformed' movie is, but I'd like to add a few that I've really liked.

A Man For All Seasons (1966); C.S. Lewis: Through the Shadowlands (2004 British Version); Shoes of the Fisherman (1968)

I'd also like to add my votes for: To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) and Hotel Rwanda (2005).
February 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSjB
Please add this to my list too.

The Hiding Place (1975)
February 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSjB
Sophie Scholl - Die letzten Tage. Movie about the young German student who was executed for her involvment in the Weisse Rose, a student resistance movement.

Very, very impressive, especially the way her christian convictions are portrayed.
February 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMark
How about the first Matrix? I don't know how "reformed" it is (I'm sure I can pull out of it whatever I want, if I put my mind to it), but in talking about it over the years it seems that it is the "Reformed" person who most appreciates the philosophical aspects and implications of it.

I didn't like the other two, so I'm only suggesting the first.

Gee, now I have to re-watch all my movies to see if they can be considered "reformed". There goes my vacation! :-)

February 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJason
As with other commenters, I do not really know what a conservative (or liberal) movie is, or what a reformed movie might look like. If I were to name movies which appealed to the Christian in me (whatever that may mean) as opposed to just my generally favorite movies (which would include all the usual opuses) I might suggest the following.
Fargo. I loved the juxtaposition of a simple, "good" couple to the utter deparvity around them and how in the face of that depravity they hold on to each other and what is right.
The Apostle- While I am not drawn to pentecostal worship, Robert Duvall does an amazing job at portraying the justified but still a sinner dichotomy. Also the conversion scene in front of the church is pretty powerful
Tender Mercies, again Duvall portrays a person who loves because he was loved first-by God and by the woman who takes him in.
Run Lola Run, This movie is visually stunning and I love the fact that the only time of the three repetitions of events when things work out okay is when the lead charachter prays as she runs-it is only one or two words, like "please" but it was powerful.

With respect to Kim's favorite movie-Tombstone, my favoorit lines are Doc Haliday's calling one of the bad guys "huckleberry " with a wink, thereby resulting in a shootout and his statement that what Ringo wants is not so much revenge as a "reckoning".

LOTR is probably the most unbelievable film making I have seen.
February 20, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterreg
Here's my list of some favs, maybe reformed maybe not, I have no idea what theat means.

Juno, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Arsenic and Old Lace (Raymond Massey is scarey), Casablanca, Maltese Falcon, High Noon, Robin Hood (Errol Flynn version), Sliverado, Dances with Wolves, Quigley Down Under, A Soldiers Storey, The Haunting (1962 version with Julie Christie), Any Three Stooges short with Curley.
February 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCharles S
GCM mentioned Matrix which is extremely fun. You got to love all of those freewill predestined conversations.

Signs seems to have been overlooked. Is everything by chance or does everything have a purpose?

Also, I recently have seen the Kill Bill movies. The ending conversation was great. Can a leopard change its spots? Yet she chose to have a new life and break from the old.

There is a sci-fi horror movie called Event Horizon that ends with an interesting conversation. "Are we going to hell?" To which the demon responds, "Hell...hell is just a word. The reality is much worse." It is a movie in which the "Darkness" shows men what is truly in them (sin and massive guilt, Total Depravity).

Castaway is clearly about choice verses determinism.

A few others came and went in my mind. If I re-think of them I'll post them. I have been amazed over the past few years how many movies are discussing freewill and determinism among other reformed ideas.

Thanks for the idea Pastor Riddlebarger!
February 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHoward
"The Princess Bride (just because)"

Pfaaaah! "He's only mostly dead." Sounds Arminian to me. :-).
February 20, 2009 | Unregistered Commenter"lee n. field"
Man on Fire
February 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJeff Anderson
Lee, I actually heard a pastor use the line "my name is Iago Montoya - you killed my father - prepare to die" in a sermon on David & Goliath. All tongue in cheek and the sermon was not at all heterodox, but got a laugh regardless.
February 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPB

That's incontheivable.
February 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterZrim
Pirates of the Caribean???

The depravity of the Pirates and the suggested "goodness" of the British throughout all three films speaks to the depravity in us all. Some go hog wild into their depravity, others assume to be righteous for their wickedness is hidden by class. Of course Barbosa's line to Miss Swan in Curse of the Black Pearl is amazing... "The drink would not satisfy, food turned to ash in our mouths, and all the pleasurable company in the world could not slake our lust. We are cursed men, Miss Turner. Compelled by greed, we were, but now we are consumed by it" If only we would realize that humanity is not "Pre-Pirate Miss Swan" (purely innocent, yet dabbling with danger), but we are the cursed ones.

Batman: Dark Knight

The depravity of the underbelly is amazingly obvious, as is the Joker. The innocent Harvey Dent shows his true colors. Batman is portrayed as he truly is - Dark Knight. The boat scenes where humanity shows there "goodness" is a great conversation startere on what is truly "good". Of course, Batman sacrificing himself and bearing Harvey's guilt and shame to "save" the people of Gotham has some strong illusions to Christ.

Speaking of illusions to Christ... Gran Turino! If you haven't seen it, it is a must see. Refreshingly un-politically correct and real, bashing fresh out of Seminary ministers as not really knowing life, redemption and reconciliation, and an ending that screams Christ's sacrifice... outstanding.
February 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJustin
How the NRO made their selections is a bit unclear to me. Seems like many of these would never qualify. Nevertheless, into the fray I'll toss what I consider to be one of the best movies ever made, though the least acclaimed and by no means a box office success, Robert Benton's 1994 production of "Nobody's Fool," based on the popular novel by Richard Russo.

Starring Paul Newman and Jessica Tandy (in what was to be one of her last roles before she died), the story has no real plot, but simply follows the development of the characters' lives throughout the film. The role Newman plays, "Sully" Sullivan, reflects self-centered, aging construction worker who has pretty much lived his life however he pleased without much regard for the plight of his fellow man, or family for that matter. Various circumstances lead Sully to realize that his life is very much involved with others, whether he likes it or not.

It's certainly not a film with any kind of "religious" implications, but is a nice story nonetheless, and a film that contained what Newman himself called one of his favorite roles as an actor.
February 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge

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