In an age when most Americans are media-gluttons who will watch anything because it's "just entertainment," books like Brian Godawa's Hollywood Worldviews are urgently needed. Even Christians are dazed by the flashing lights on the big screen and seem, for the two hours they're in the theater, to devolve into automatons with no moral compass. As a screenwriter who works inside Hollywood, Godawa provides some of the tools needed to figure out what exactly a movie is trying to say, and how that message compares with a Christian worldview.
While he necessarily references the visual and audial aspects of films, Godawa focuses on storytelling in the movies, how the storyline and its composition are intended to influence the audience, and the symbolism that tends to appear most often in modern cinema. He also includes several chapters discussing some of the main worldviews encountered in movies, from existentialism and nihilism to postmodernism and Christianity. Each topic is illustrated by analyses of several films and how they exemplify a particular worldview, with references to dozens more.
Be aware—the bulk of the films discussed are adult-oriented, complete with graphic language, violence and sex. Godawa provides an appendix defending the viewing of movies with such content, and while you may or may not be convinced, this probably isn't a good text to use with kids, or even with most high schoolers. For adults, however, this is an excellent tool for becoming a film-viewer able to recognize the real message of a film (not just its content) and therefore able to resist the prevalent secular and anti-Christian perspectives informing most films. And while the films Godawa discusses are often not kid-friendly, the principles he describes are just as applicable to Disney cartoons as to the films of Quentin Tarantino.