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The Best Redemptive Films (and yes, I know I'm right... heh)

Don't be surprised not to find these recommended by churches or anything, necessarily, but at their core, films all have messages that "preach" better than most sermons.

And yes, if you're a moral majority type, be warned that a lot of these are rated R and include things like "bad words" and some nudity.

In no particular order...

1. The Spitfire Grill
2. The Apostle
3. Saved
4. The Shawshank Redemption
5. Chocolat
6. The Sky Is Watching
7. Black Snake Moan
8. Shadowlands
9. Cool Hand Luke
10. The Green Mile
11. Meet John Doe
12. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
13. The Poseidon Adventure
14. Luther
15. Spirited Away
16. The Return of the Jedi
17. Blade Runner
18. The Matrix Revolutions
19. Unbreakable
20. Pulp Fiction
21. Kal Ho Naa Ho
22. 16 Blocks
23. The Dark Knight
24. Superman
25. The Reaping
26. The Exorcist
27. Star Wars: A New Hope
28. Ghost in the Shell
29. Stephen King's Desperation
30. Stephen King's The Stand
31. Ikiru

How 'bout you? What are your thoughts? How many of these did I miss the mark on? Which films did I ignore or forget that also need to be included?

Take care,

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Hey Sean,

There are some on this list that I can see the message of the gospel. Some I'm thinking, other than Samuel Jackson's misquoting the verse in Ezekiel and the last scene in the cafe, Pulp Fiction is a stretch for me. However, some other films that may not be at great on an entertainment or theatrical level as the ones you mentioned , but definitely have a gospel message;

Leap of Faith
Exorcism of Emily Rose
Forrest Gump
Spiderman 3
Star Trek 2 Wrath of Khan
Finding Nemo
Bruce Almighty
Evan Almighty (okay movie, but a couple of outstanding moments of theological insight)

So Sean, what do you think? I'm I off base with some of these of these picks? One day we have got to talk movies. Email me at
I meant to add Emily Rose to the list actually, but forgot. Leap of Faith is not bad.

As for Pulp Fiction, it's more literary and subtle but the redemptive message is definitely there. When Bruce Willis chooses to save his enemy's life then rides off on a motorcycle named "Grace." And there are more, but there all more symbolic than blatant.
For me, though Pulp Fiction is an outstanding movie, the violence overshadowed any subtle or symbolic redemptive messages. Now, Shawshank Redemption (one of my all time favorite movies), had violence, it was wasn't as important to the film as was the deep friendship between Freeman/Robbins. The Freeman narration was brilliant throughout the film. Another movie that had a message was Lion King.
I liken Tarantino's films in some ways to the short stories of Flannery O'Connor. If you don't look deep enough, you miss the theological undergirding. Lion King was definitely redemptive, but some of the ones that hit you on the head with the message definitely turn me off. I really dig the more subtle messages. I guess it's my literature/English degree making me feel that way.
Okay, based on responses here and my blog where I also posted this, I'm updating the list with these additions:

32. The Exorcism of Emily Rose
33. Lion King
34. Twelve Angry Men
35. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
36. The Village
I'm more of the hit you over the head with it. Most of all my reading is nonfiction. Just the facts. But some of the most popular films of all time, many of them have this Father/Son relationship or male bonding/fellowship.
Lion King
The Star War trilogy
Finding Nemo (Another one of my all time favorite movies)
Of the ones you mentioned
Male Bonding;
Shawshank Redemption
Twelve Men
The Green Mile
Forrest Gump
Star Trek II
16 Blocks

What's up with that? Or is there some deep pyschological need that is being addressed? The Father/Son relationship definitely goes into some deep areas. Finding Nemo, we have the father risking his life to find his son. In Lion King, we have the father giving his life to save his son. There is profound importance given to the father. That's my two cents.
That's a cool observation. I'm often more fascinated by the bluntness of Spielberg to include Christological characters in his films (sometimes thereby ruining an otherwise decent move like AI).

For example, E.T. and No Batteries Included, Amistad, Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, Amazing Stories, etc.
Twelve Angry Men is one of the all time GREAT movies in my opinion, with an outstanding cast of memorable actors. My son, whose in his early twenties just saw it and thought it was excellent. He never thought a movie with a bunch of guys just talking would keep his interest, but it did. A testament to the timely quality of this movie. Definitely male bonding. The movie deals with racism, family hurts, etc. However, having seen the movie several times, I'm pressed to find the redemptive aspects to the movie. That's why I need to be hit over the head. Just a little too dense to see the subtle message.
You're probably more the norm than I am, actually. I just really love the subtle. It must be my background in literary criticism. I actually led a Bible study small group in which we looked a films and talked about the biblical and theological themes in them. Great fun.
What were the Biblical themes in Twelve Angry Men?
Actually, that one isn't one we covered in the class. But let me get back to you on that when I have more time to respond (putting up the tree tonight).
Phew. Got some time now. The redemptive themes in 12 Angry Men come not necessarily in the redemption of the man on trial, but in the attitudes of the jurors themselves, moving from judgment to grace, each coming to understand the "mote in his own eyes" so to speak in regards to why he wanted to judge the condemned man so quickly. It is similar to the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery in a lot of ways.

Or at least that's what I get out of it.


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