Pete Dray on questions to help read films:
1. What was your immediate reaction to the film at its close?
2. What's the story?
3. What sort of 'world' has the film-maker asked me to enter?
(a) What counts as good or bad or beautiful or evil or unacceptable in this world? What makes relationships in this world work or fail?
(b) How has the film-maker built up this world?
* How does the movie's first shot introduce the world?
* How does the last shot leave us with a lasting impression?
* What were the recurring images or visual motifs?
* What patterns were there in the dialogue?
* How did characters interact?
* Were there words or phrases that were repeated?
* How does the film use music to guide you to know how to respond?
* How do characters grow and learn and change? (this is known as a 'character arc' and is a good pointer towards the message that the film maker is seeking to make)
4. What’s true, good and beautiful in this film? Because the film is made by people in God’s image, there will be moments when the truth shines, where beauty is unveiled (what Turnau calls ‘the footprints of God’). What elements of God’s grace do we see?
5. What’s false, ugly and perverse? Where does the movie lie? Film worlds are a mixture of grace and manipulation, truth and lies. A film's lies will betray where its root idolatry is. (Often there is a direct relationship between where common grace is strongest and idolatry e.g. a chick flick celebrates romance, but often presents it as the one thing to live for).
6. How does the gospel apply (or give an answer)? (the gospel provides real answers to desires).
Damaris CultureWatch read films for their day job