Ida

Not rated yet!
Director
Paweł Pawlikowski
Runtime
1 h 20 min
Release Date
25 October 2013
Genres
Drama
Overview
Poland, 1962. Anna is a novice, an orphan brought up by nuns in a convent. Before she takes her vows, she is determined to see Wanda, her only living relative. Wanda tells Anna that Anna is Jewish. Both women embark on a journey not only to discover their tragic family story, but who they really are and where they belong, questioning their religions and beliefs.
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The American Conservative Staff2
The American Conservative



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • How to Make a God Movie
    Art & Architecture Christianity Pop Culture Dante Alissa Wilkinson, the chief film critic for Christianity Today, pens a smart piece for The Atlantic about bad God movies and good God movies.  She points out that there really are some fine films with religious content being made today … but also some dreck. The problem is not so much with moviemakers as with the expectations some Christian audiences have. Excerpts: In the movie business, “Christian” or “religious” usually gets conflated with the “faith-and-family” audience, sidestepping a wide swath of people of faith who aren’t looking for “safe” stories. One publicist informed me ahead of Sundance that the film she was representing wasn’t “appropriate for Christians.” Another told me it would never have occurred to her to pitch me. Marketers, publicists, and distributors tend to view Christian moviegoers as a monolithically single-minded group staunchly opposed to any film that might garner more than a PG rating, and only interested in movies that depict Biblical stories, tell inspirational biographical tales (mostly about athletes, brave children, or war heroes), or explicitly reinforce their own beliefs. If you ask me, the most “Christian” film released in 2014 was Calvary, which premiered at Sundance in 2014. The movie starred Brendan Gleeson as a tough but loving priest facing his death in a remote fishing village. Rife with religious imagery and resonances, the film’s message about forgiveness and redemption is thoroughly consistent with Christian theology and features a bracing view of the havoc wreaked on generations of children by abusive ministers (by no means a problem exclusive to Catholics). Though it got left out of many “faith-based” discussions because it garnered an R rating from the MPAA for “sexual references, language, brief strong content, and some drug use,” it earned raves from secular and religious critics alike, garnering a Rotten Tomatoes score of 89 percent. More: Calvary, along with movies like the Oscar nominees Ida and Selma, is an explicitly religious exploration of widely asked questions that doesn’t point to easy answers. Several Christian critics writing for religious outlets (including myself) put all three of these films in our top ten lists for the year—while also facing significant backlash from some readers who were horrified that we’d praise, let alone watch, a “blasphemous” film like Noah. But I noticed something interesting. For every angry reader who contacted me—and there were many, and they were caustic—another expressed gratitude. Many were Christians; some had grown up in church and left it behind; a few were indifferent to religion altogether. All, however, were looking for carefully crafted films that took the religious experience seriously. Preach it, sister. I saw Ida not long ago — it’s on iTunes — and was deeply taken by it. It’s a stark-looking black & white Polish film set in 1962. On the eve of taking her final vows to enter the convent, a young novice named Ida goes to visit the only relative she has that survived the war and the Holocaust: Wanda, a drunken, cynical communist judge. Wanda reveals to Ida that she’s really a Jewish orphan who had been hidden with the nuns before the Nazis came. The nuns brought her up as a Catholic. Now she has learned the truth, and drives around Poland with her dissolute aunt, trying to find where her parents are buried, and to confront the Polish gentiles who took over the family land. Here is the trailer: The film builds in emotional power as it reaches its climax, which, of course, hinges on whether or not Ida will return to the monastic community and join it, or enter the world. Ida deals with questions of history, justice, and identity, and asks how one can find meaning in human existence after the apocalypse that overtook Poland, especially its Jews. It is ultimately a movie about nihilism, and potential responses to how we live and act with moral awareness and responsibility after the experience of the Holocaust. Do the forces of nihilism win? Is living for today and its pleasures all that’s left to us? If nihilism is not to win, how can it be defeated? What happens to the human soul after Auschwitz? Understand that this is not a movie that takes place in the death camps, but rather in the aftermath, in a time when it is already known that the communist attempt to establish justice and a meaningful postwar society has devolved into an exercise in lies, brutality, and cynicism. Ultimately, Ida is a movie about faith: faith lost (Wanda’s, in communism), and faith tested (Ida’s, in the path she was given). The thing is, Ida is a very, very simple story: simply scripted, simply shot, simply acted. But it is very deep. I have no idea if the Polish director is any kind of observant Christian, but it doesn’t matter. Ida is a film that takes religion very seriously, and it is in no way preachy, moralistic, or simplistic. And it clearly doesn’t only appeal to Christian audiences; it won the Best Foreign Film Oscar this year. The New Yorker‘s David Denby called it a “masterpiece,” and summed up the questions posed by the film like this: “What do you do with the past once you’ve re-discovered it? Does it enable you, redeem you, kill you, leave you longing for life, longing for escape? The answers are startling.” These are religious questions, even if God is never mentioned directly, only implied. And Ida is a thousand times more profound and penetrating that the religious kitsch on offer for Christian audiences. The piece by Christian film critic Alissa Wilkinson is actually a hopeful report highlighting films and directors that are moving beyond the “safe for the whole family” school of didactic religious filmmaking. Another excerpt from her piece: One of the featured events at Sundance this year was a panel on faith-based films. Several attendees I spoke with were disappointed that panelists focused predominately, once again, on the “faith and family” audience—the same underlying market confusion I’d observed all year. One attendee, Ryan Daniel Dobson, is a Christian filmmaker developing a project based on the Biblical story of Hosea, in which the prophet is told by God to marry a prostitute, who repeatedly abandons him. A project like this will likely interest many people of faith, but not those looking for a “family film.” Like a growing number of Christians who work outside both the Hollywood system and the Christian film industry, Dobson sees films like God’s Not Dead as nearly antithetical to his understanding of what film ought to do and what faith ought to look like. “Several times ‘faith films’ were compared to superhero movies, where a studio can’t stray from what their fanboy audience wants, because it would guarantee a box office fail.” Dobson told me. “Several times, it was said, ‘We’re doing this for them’—the audience. I find that particularly heartbreaking when said on the grounds of a festival where stories are told with such honesty that it forces the audience to admit they might be wrong.” A couple of thoughts on this. In a recent e-mail exchange with Charles Featherstone, whose extraordinary memoir of his journey from an abused, outcast young man to radical Muslim to Christian pastor-without-a-pulpit I have recommended to you, said something profound: Created or called, the Biblical narrative has really helped me see who I am. God rarely, if ever, calls the well-behaved and well-adjusted to follow. Again, with David. He was an awful man. A terrible king. He was a murderer, a rebel, a terrorist, a rapist (one reading of the Bathsheba story), and he stole men’s wives (2 Samuel 3:16 has this wonderful tale of Michal’s husband pathetically following her as she makes her way to David). He was as dithering a king as he was decisive before he became king. And yet, this awful man, who in his whole life only repents once of anything he ever did, and then only when Nathan the prophet calls him on it, is so beloved of God that God makes a promise to save Israel, to save the whole world, through David. The Bible is full of misfits, people who don’t belong, bad men and women who God calls to be part of God’s saving acts. This is why I get so angry when we reduce scripture to simple guidance for good behavior. It isn’t really that at all. And when it becomes that, I’m suddenly left out of the story, because I am not “beyond reproach” and because I have never lived a life “beyond reproach.” It may be words of blessing and comfort to them as are settled and at home, but those words are almost all spoken by people who are not, from Abraham to Paul. People called to leave, to wander, to never find rest except as guests in homes that are not theirs. That gives me great strength. I am not alone in all this. It hasn’t made the last year easier, but it has made it bearable. I am not wrong because I am a misfit and a malcontent, that I am not flawed or troublesome or “difficult” or “the problem” merely because some people (well, okay, rather a lot) say so. Because God uses people like me — perhaps even needs people like me — to speak the words that must be spoken. I don’t understand it, and I truly wish it were not like this. My home is with Christ, and that will have to suffice in this world. Maybe this unfilled yearning is like the thorn Paul writes about. He has pleaded with God to remove it, and Jesus tells him: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Perhaps we must bear this burden of wanting something we cannot have as a witness, to ourselves and to others, of the grace of God. I hate that possibility. Not everyone will listen — it is not a powerful voice. But I’m reminded of something a Lubavitcher Rebbe said, that while the kings had power, no one remembers their words. It is the words of the prophets, who had nothing but what God gave them to say, that we remember. Dante did not become the towering figure we know from literature and history until they made him an outcast, and he had to confront the mess he had made of his life and make sense of it. The Divine Comedy is, of course, the most profound and penetrating Christian story ever written outside the Bible. Yet it is a long poem in which some villains make it to heaven, other friends of the poet’s who weren’t especially bad people in life end up in Hell, and one of the great archfiends of the play is the Pope of the very Catholic faith that the poet passionately believes in. There is nothing — nothing — simplistic or moralistic about the Divine Comedy — and this is why it reached me in the depths of my despair like nothing else could have done. I did not see it coming. In fact, I’m pretty sure one of the reasons I avoided it over the years is that I thought a medieval poem about heaven and hell would be a boring morality tale. No, no, no. Not in the least. The point I want to make for this discussion is that the story the Bible gives us is one of tragedy, of paradox, of God’s purposes for His people revealing themselves through the most unlikely figures — and, for Christians, God revealing Himself in the form of a carpenter from Nazareth who was despised by the people He came to save, and put to death. It’s a crazy story, just crazy — but we Christians believe it to be true. There is nothing play-it-safe about the Bible. It is full of mystery and paradox and revelation. The second point I want to make about the “faith-and-family” school of play-it-safe Christian moviemaking comes from the memory of a conversation I once had with a friend who had been raised Evangelical, but who, as a teenager, was struggling with overwhelming problems at home, such that she had begun to harm herself in ways that ought to have been obvious to all around her. My friend told me, about her church community back then, “If they had opened their eyes, they would have seen a girl in crisis, and reached out and helped me figure out how to deal with this crisis. All they could see was a kid who needed to be taught how to witness to the people seated next to her on the airplane.” What she meant was that in the world of her church community, the point of the Christian life was to lead others to making a “saving decision for Christ.” This, to be clear, is a vital and irreducible part of the Christian life, one that Evangelicals rightly prize, often more than the rest of us Christians, who have forgotten this truth and this duty. But as I understood my friend from this remembered conversation, the Great Commission (Christ’s command to his followers to go out and make disciples of all the world) crowded out everything else within her community. They knew how to produce evangelists, she said, but they weren’t so good at forming disciples. I’m not quite sure why this conversation came to mind in contemplating Christian moviemaking, but there you are. Perhaps it has to do with a belief that the often-agonizing complexities of faith, of humanity’s relationship with God, is not the most important thing; winning converts to the faith is, and comforting the faithful in their beliefs is. It’s not just an Evangelical thing; Flannery O’Connor caught hell all the time from her fellow Catholics, who wanted to know when she was going to write “nice” stories for a change. In the end, I don’t think most people, Christian and otherwise, are eager to explore mystery. They want all the answers, when the questions are often more important. They think of their relationship with God as having an ordered set of doctrines and dogmas, and arranging their thoughts to align with these beliefs. The truth is that God wants our heads, yes, but more than that, He wants our hearts. “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” For Christians, the Truth is a Person. There is never anything simple and straightforward about our relationships with others. We are mysteries relating to mysteries, and, for Christians, that relationship is mediated by Mystery. Art — real art, not kitsch — emerges from that profound truth. UPDATE: A good and important counterpoint from a reader:   The Bible is full of misfits, people who don’t belong, bad men and women who God calls to be part of God’s saving acts.   Yes.  Still, I’m so tired of misfits.  I’m just a normal dude that goes to work and puts bread on the table.  It seems like everybody, from JD Salinger to Flannery O’Connor, wants to write books and make movies about misfits.  And I get it, there’s something to both being an artist itself and to being a Christian that seems to require a measure of alienation.  But the high school quarterback seeks redemption just as much as the brooding loner who writes poetry.  To the traditional man has the role of freak been given, in this age.  As great and as thoughtful as Ida might be (I haven’t seen it, though I will), “a stark-looking black & white Polish film set in 1962” isn’t likely to get far beyond the art-house crowd who, let’s face it, can be tempted by the consolation of knowing how lovely it is to be the sort of person who is moved by this sort of thing.   I find the faith-and-family Christian film as nauseating as you do.  Still, I empathize with the hypocrites a bit, those oft-rebuked (by Jesus Christ!) souls who don’t have a terribly profound grasp of what authentic Christianity is, yet show up to church on Sundays, teach their kids their prayers and put a check in the collection basket.  These folks are grasping, gossipy, and awful, but the church wouldn’t be here without them.  They are like Amity Shlaes “Forgotten Man”, just in another context.  They were last spoken to by Mel Gibson, and they need to hear this stuff more often.   ]]>
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  • List, List, O List: a Premature 2014 Movie Rundown
    Any attempt on my part to assess the year in film is bound to be inadequate, because there are just too many films I know I ought to see that I haven’t seen yet. Moreover, that list of “oughts” has already been shaped by the reactions of other critics; it’s already too late for the joy of discovery that I felt, say, attending a screening of “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night” back in January, before everyone had heralded Ana Lily Amirpour’s Persian vampire noir western as the hot new thing. And anyway, films are largely incomparable across genres. Which was a “better” film, “Boyhood” or “The LEGO Movie?” It’s kind of a silly question – they aren’t trying to do anything remotely comparable. Nonetheless: posts must be blogged. So: let’s start with the critical consensus. The nice folks at Metacritic have compiled a meta-list, combining the views of 137 different critics on what they think are the top ten films of the year, for a meta-list of 20 films. Herewith: 1. “Boyhood.” My feelings about the film tracked very closely with Eve Tushnet’s. I admire the experiment, and I was drawn in deeply during the first hour. But in the last hour I found myself far more interested in the parents than in the titular boy, which to me feels like the film didn’t achieve all that it set out to do. 2. “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” I am a great admirer of Richard Linklater’s work, which is why I was surprised that I didn’t respond to “Boyhood” with raptures. Wes Anderson I am much more ambivalent about. But “The Grand Budapest Hotel” was for me a sheer delight from end to end, and may even have become my favorite Anderson film, because for once I felt his fussiness was fully justified by the film’s subject and setting. Leon Hadar’s thoughts on the film are also very worth reading. 3. “Under the Skin.” I posted my reactions to this creepy Scarlett Johansson sci-fi flick here. Its highly original vision has definitely stuck with me. Rent it. 4. “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance.” I posted my thoughts on “Birdman” here. I think it’s a tour-de-force. 5. “Selma.” A film I have not yet seen, and plan to, though I fear I won’t like it. I don’t tend to like pious movies, regardless of the object of piety, and I fear this will be one. 6. “Whiplash.” I wrote up my thoughts on Damien Chazelle’s film here, and then followed up with additional thoughts here, but I continue to chew on it. “Whiplash” is very worth seeing, but it irritated me, and I wonder whether that reaction says more about me than it does about the film. 7. “Ida.” Near the top of my list of films I need to see. 8. “Gone Girl.” Amazingly, I still haven’t seen this film. I begin to suspect I’m avoiding it, and I’m not entirely sure why. 8. “Inherent Vice.” I’m only falling more in love with P.T. Anderson with time, and am very eager to see his latest. 10. “Nightcrawler.” I find myself away from the pack on this one. Jake Gyllenhaal’s Louis Bloom seemed like he had dropped to earth from Mars in the first frame. What, I wondered, did he do the day before the film began? The month before that? The year before that? I found no really plausible answer to these sorts of questions. Nor did I buy this young man’s sudden transformation from bizarre recluse to a ruthlessly effective manipulator of other people. The film presents itself as a dark satire – I kept thinking it was trying to be a noir-esque, indie-scale “Network” – but I never felt like the satire connected with anything terribly specific. 11. “Mr. Turner.” Another one near the top of my list of films to see. Mike Leigh is a wonderful filmmaker, and I specifically adored his last foray into biopic. 12. “Force Majeure.” I haven’t seen it yet, but hope to do so. 13. “Goodbye to Language.” Haven’t seen it yet, clearly need to – it’s actually somewhat relevant to a script I’ve written. 14. “The Immigrant.” Jeepers, I haven’t seen this one yet either – and this one wasn’t even on my list of want-to-sees. From the description, the film sounds like an Isaac Bashevis Singer novel, which makes me want to see it to see if that’s how it plays on-screen. 14. “Foxcatcher.” I wrote up my thoughts here – definitely an intriguing film, worth seeing for three notable performances. 16. “Only Lovers Left Alive.” I described “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night” as a “Jarmusch-esque” vampire flick without having seen Jim Jarmusch’s own vampire flick. I suppose I have to find out which is more Jarmusch-esque: the actual Jarmusch or the homage? In any event, Eve Tushnet’s always-worthwhile thoughts can be found here. 17. “Two Days, One Night.” I am extremely eager to see this film, largely because I read Eve Tushnet’s review. 17. “The LEGO Movie.” My thoughts on this interlocking brick system of a movie can be found here. A much, much better film than it needed  to be. 17. “Snowpiercer.” This extremely stylish and idiosyncratic action-flick-cum-allegory of global inequality was far darker than I had expected. Indeed, inasmuch as it has a clear politics, those politics are almost pure anarchist rage. Far from presenting a brief for revolution, the film paints a deeply bleak and pessimistic picture of the choices before humanity in an age of scarcity driven by ecological impoverishment. 20. “Citizenfour.” Another film I need to see, but that I expect not to be enraptured by as so many have been. So I’ve only seen 9 out of 20 of the films that comprise the aggregated “critics’ picks” list. Not a particularly impressive showing – though I expect to improve upon it substantially over the next month or so. Meanwhile, what’s missing from this meta-list in terms of my personal  faves of the year? And what else am I eager to see that I haven’t gotten to yet? Not necessarily films that I would put on any kind of “Top 10” list, but all worth renting, are: “Frank,” “Listen Up Philip,” (reviewed here), and “The One I Love.” All extremely well-written films, and all films that would work just fine on a small screen. Films about prickly, difficult male artists (a theme of the year), and about the cold war between the sexes. And two doses of Elizabeth Moss to boot. What am I eager to see? Apart from those mentioned above, I’d add “Wild,” “The Babadook,” “The Overnighters,” “Big Eyes,” “Leviathan,” and “A Most Violent Year,” plus (from stuff I missed from earlier in the year) “Gloria,” “Calvary,” “The Dog,” “The Blue Room,” and “Jodorowsky’s Dune.” ]]>
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VJ Morton1
Right Wing Film Geek



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)
  • Ida

    ★★★½ Watched 23 Jan, 2014

    IDA (Pawel Pawlikowski, Poland, 2014, 7)

    At a certain point—impossible to define in the abstract—restraint simply becomes withholding. Don’t get me wrong: Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida is a lovely film, even though it uses the hoary structure of the “opposites” buddy road-trip movie. But it enlivens the device both through novelty (the mismatched pair is a novitiate nun in early-’60s Poland who’s just learned she’s Jewish, and her aunt, a judge for the Communist regime) and through a commitment to character… more

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Debbie Schlussel1
The New York Post



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Holiday Box Office: Tammy, Earth to Echo, Begin Again, Deliver Us From Evil, Ida, Snowpiercer
    Blog Posts Movie Reviews Ida“: Leave it to the extremely anti-Semitic Poles to turn the Holocaust tragedy into a way to portray Jews as evil, slutty, and Communist murderers. That’s what this boring Polish-made movie does. In Polish, with English subtitles, it’s the story of Ida, a young woman who was raised in a convent and is training to become a nun in the early 1960s. She learns she has an aunt and that she and the aunt are Jews. She also learns that her family perished in the Holocaust. But those are tiny details compared to the fact that her Jewish aunt is a Communist judge, Comrade Wanda, who sentenced many non-Communists and freedom-seekers to execution. Oh, and did I mention that she’s an alcoholic and a slut? But, don’t worry, she realizes that she’s a bad person and jumps out a window. Soon, her niece is dropping the nun habit and getting into bed with men she just met, too. Then, she realizes that being a Communist slutty Jewess ain’t the life for her. So it’s back to the nunnery for the calm, decent life of a Polish Catholic. Yep, those Jooooos suck! My relatives cooked in the ovens for this? Apparently. There are real-life stories of Polish Jewish kids raised as Catholics to survive the Holocaust such as that of Miriam Ferber of the Detroit area. Ferber, raised by Polish Catholics, was finally told by her adoptive parents that she was a Jew. She became a practicing Jew, created and raised a thriving Jewish family, and today, her kids (with whom I went to school) own and run HoMedics (which brings you all of the great massage stuff you see as gifts for Christmas). Her story would have made a great movie. Instead, we get this trash. Before seeing this, I never imagined an 82-minute movie could seem like 820. FOUR MARXES PLUS FOUR OBAMAS PLUS FOUR BIN LADENS ]]>
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Tim Markatos2
The American Conservative



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Will the Real Film Lovers Please Stand Up?
    It would seem nowadays as though anyone over the age of 30 with a vested interest in the movies will proudly flaunt their membership in the "Cinema is Dead and/or Dying" club. The refrains are common: sequelitis has ruined Hollywood for original projects; even the biggest-name auteurs have to beg tooth and nail outside of every Starbucks in LA for funding; and if you're a minority group, good luck seeing yourself realistically represented on the big screen. Film may be an art form, but the movies are a business, and in the absence of studio executives who know how (or simply care) to reconcile these two halves of the same coin, the most exciting, visionary, and boundary-pushing works are pushed to the sidelines at best and kept out of existence at worst. Naturally, one might think that the solution to the lack of creativity and representation in Hollywood would be to look to foreign markets and venues. Indeed, there's plenty of exciting cinema happening in the rest of the world, and this year alone has given us gems as accessible as Ida and as obtuse as Winter Sleep. In the same breath that they condemn the Hollywood studio system for the apparently irreparable damage its left on their beloved medium, your friendly neighborhood film critic will find the room to praise one or two of these foreign imports in the hopes of expanding their readership's cinematic purview.
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  • The Tim Markatos Oscars
    (”Ida” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Honoring the actual best in movie quality since 2015. Best Picture Boyhood · The Grand Budapest Hotel · Force Majeure · Foxcatcher · Only Lovers Left Alive · Selma · The Tale of the Princess Kaguya · Two Days, One Night · Under the Skin · Whiplash * Best Director * Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel * Damien Chazelle, Whiplash * Xavier Dolan, Mommy * Jonathan Glazer, Under the Skin * Richard Linklater, Boyhood
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National Review Staff1
National Review



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Love in the Time of Communism
    (”Ida” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Ross Douthat reviews Cold War.
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Armond White1
The National Review / OUT



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Never Look Away and Cold War Worship Oscar’s Sacred Cows
    (”Ida” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Two non-American nominees prove that sentimental Hollywood speaks a foreign language.
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    (Review Source)

The Federalist Staff1
The Federalist



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • What Religious Movie Audiences Wanted From Hollywood In 2014
    (”Ida” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    What Religious Movie Audiences Wanted From Hollywood In 2014 A year-end review of 2014's Bible and religious movie lineup. December 9, 2014 By Rebecca Cusey In the beginning…of 2014…was the promise of Bible movies. And was it good? As 2014 dawned, it looked like the year the Hollywood seas would part for Bible and religious movie offerings. Three Bible epics were in development for nationwide release by major studios: Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah,” Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s “Son of God,” and Ridley Scott’s “Exodus: Gods and Kings.” Moreover, none other than superstar Angelina Jolie was directing a biopic of an evangelical lion and war hero Louis Zamperini. A slew of smaller films aimed at the faith-based market promised to bring God out of the theatrical wilderness. Everywhere movie-goers turned, there was a film friendly to faith: Christian apologetic “God’s Not Dead,” Christian comedy “Mom’s Night Out,” apocalyptic thriller “Left Behind,” Song of Solomon-inspired “The Song,” and the list goes on. In the artsy circuit, Irish “Calvary” and Polish “Ida” both explore faith in all its nuance and are holding their own in the awards races. So how did it turn out? Did Heaven invade the theaters? The results are mixed. Religious Movie Offerings Score and Strike Out “Son of God” fared decently at the box office. “Noah” opened to controversy from evangelicals who took issue with its reinterpretation of a cherished Sunday School story. It barely made back its production budget, although with overseas ticket sales it still turned a profit for the Paramount Pictures. “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” directed by self-proclaimed agnostic Ridley Scott, took a different direction. The film, based on the Biblical story of Moses and the Israelites’ escape from slavery in Egypt, plays like an atheist manifesto. Moses, a modern skeptic in sheepherder’s clothes, squares off against God, portrayed as a petulant, vengeful, irrational child. The film at time takes the part of the Egyptians, blaming God for devastating plagues striking the populace as Moses takes God to task for His incomprehensible ways. Key details in the Biblical account are changed to match Scott’s vision and the nature of Moses’s relationship with God is totally transformed. The film opens December 12. Faith-based audiences are more likely to flock to “Unbroken,” a story infused with faith and courage opening Christmas day. When former Olympian Louis Zamperini and his WWII bomber crew crash in the ocean and are set adrift, the faith of his best buddy is treated with respect. Picked up by the enemy Japanese, both men need every bit of strength and courage available to survive the brutality of a POW camp with their humanity intact. The story ends before Zamperini’s eventual conversion at a Billy Graham crusade and career as a Christian minister, but its message of forgiveness and faith is promoted in the epilogue. The Faithful’s Movie Preferences Are Mysterious So what makes a divine hit? Arguably the most profitable faith-friendly movies of the 2014 are, so far, “Heaven Is For Real,” with a domestic take of $91.4 million (budget: $12 million), “God’s Not Dead” at $60.7 million (budget $2 million), and “Son of God” at $59.7 million. “Son of God” cost nearly nothing, since the footage was shot during the filming of the wildly successful History Channel miniseries “The Bible.” Those are hefty returns on investment, outpacing even blockbusters like “Guardians of the Galaxy.” But for every “God’s Not Dead,” there’s a “The Song” that grossed just over $1 million before slinking out of theaters for good. “Unbroken,” “Heaven is For Real,” “God’s Not Dead,” and “Son of God” respect the faith told in their stories. Beyond that, they vary widely. A universal tale of courage, a test of faith, a rhetorical defense of faith, and a church-friendly Bible tale have little in common to emulate. “Calvary,” which boasts world-class acting and a gritty but uplifting faith story, has won the respect of critics if not mass audiences. There is no clear-cut formula. The faith-based audience, like its God, apparently moves in mysterious ways. Rebecca Cusey is a movie critic based in Washington DC. She is a member of the Washington Area Film Critics Society and a voting Tomatomer Critic on Rotten Tomatoes. Follow her on Twitter @Rebecca_Cusey. Angelina Jolie Billy Graham Calvary Calvary movie Darren Aronofsky Exodus: Gods and Kings God's Not Dead Hollywood Left Behind Louis Zamperini Mark Burnett Mom's Night Out Movies Noah religious movies Ridley Scott Roma Downey Son of God The Song Unbroken World War II Copyright © 2017 The Federalist, a wholly independent division of FDRLST Media, All Rights Reserved. googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1463670073398-2'); }); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({mode:'thumbs-2r', container:'taboola-below-main-column-mix', placement:'below-main-column', target_type:'mix'}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({flush:true}); 0 Comments /* * * CONFIGURATION VARIABLES: EDIT BEFORE PASTING INTO YOUR WEBPAGE * * */ var disqus_shortname = 'thefederalist23'; // required: replace example with your forum shortname /* * * DON'T EDIT BELOW THIS LINE * * */ (function() { var dsq = document.createElement('script'); dsq.type = 'text/javascript'; dsq.async = true; dsq.src = '//' + disqus_shortname + '.disqus.com/embed.js'; (document.getElementsByTagName('head')[0] || document.getElementsByTagName('body')[0]).appendChild(dsq); })(); Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus. comments powered by Disqus ]]>
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    Want to know who is cleaning up at the 2015 Academy Awards. I’ll be live-tweeting the show @johnhanlon and keeping score of the winners below. All of the winners will be in bold as the night progresses. Best motion picture of the year “American Sniper” “Birdman or...
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