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I’m incredibly thankful for Larsen’s perspective on how films “exhal(e) the spirit of man and inhal(e) the spirit of God.” Even when noting that connections may be a little bit of a stretch, Larsen shows his creativity and his connection to the Spirit by detailing when characters, scenes, or images capture expressed prayers.
The book is formatted in a way that allows for the reader to discover how a specific type of prayer (e.g. lament, praise, confession) is expressed in both biblical literature (Scripture and commentaries) and in film (both high and low brow – I’m amazed how the same type of prayer is expressed in both The Act of Killing and Trainwreck.) In the true fashion of a professor, Larsen provides a capstone film that expresses all of the previously discussed prayers, giving the book the final exclamation point that drives the point home.
I look forward to re-visiting this book as well as its lessons in the years to come. Maybe I will go see Trans4mers: The Last Knight as a “final exam” of sorts to see what Michael Bay is exclaiming!
I'm a film enthusiast, but have never taken a film class, and I'm religious, but not a theologian. This book is kind, accessible, and open-minded, willing to talk to believer and non-believer alike, in a way that does not patronize or belittle. I particularly loved chapter 3, which talks about faith and doubt and their relationship with prayer and film; these themes resonated with me, as all my favorite films talk about doubt and hope against insurmountable odds. I highly recommend Movies Are Prayers, whether you're a faith or film enthusiast, or you're just looking for a fresh perspective.
"Movies Are Prayers" grants readers a new way to look at some of their favorite films and encourages them to find new favorites. Larsen develops an excellent case for why films, even those made by the irreligious, give voice to some of our deepest prayers. He manages to deftly avoid forcing a spiritual veneer over a movie, but instead highlights the ways in which the stories and characters speak religiously—even when they're unaware. If you enjoy movies and thinking deeply about them, you will appreciate "Movies Are Prayers."
There are many books that analyze films. Josh Larson's book is different. It goal is to convey an attitude; to teach us a posture of moviegoing that allows us to experience the full range of humanity. The book is tuned to the storyline of scripture and seeks out aspects of that storyline in the films around us. It asks us to feel deeper and to be more honest. It's a guide to both watching films and to having all aspects of humanity guide our relationship with God. It is the book of Psalms for the lover of films.