Ever since the dawn of time, various forms
of theater have been used as a means of communication, education and
entertainment. Beginning with the early Greek tragedies of Aeschylus in
the 5th century, and continuing with Shakespeare in the 16th, theatrical
performances have served those in power by helping to influence moral
and social behavior as well. In the early 20th century, moving pictures
harnessed that same power of influence to an even broader audience.
Movies, television and now the internet are shaping the view of the
world of even millions of more people, in ways Aeschylus and Shakespeare
couldn't even imagine. With this great power to motivate (dare we say
manipulate?) comes an implicit mandate to use it responsibly. While many
have benefited financially from the awesome power of these media, we all
know history has shown that not all those wielding such power choose to
use it to benefit the population at large.
The popular press and special interest
groups devote much time and energy to decrying increases of violence,
drugs and sex portrayed in all forms of the media. On the other hand far
less, if any attention, is focused on the marked increase in positive
messages appearing in the media as well. For many years now, though it
has been off the radar screen of most people, a positive silent force
has been slowly shaping the landscape of today's books, television and
Thanks to the re-release of "classic"
films on video and DVD and the proliferation of movie reruns on cable
networks, even the youngest generations can still watch memorable movies
from 60 plus years ago. At the time they were made, few even noticed the
messages of such Frank Capra favorites
as "Lost Horizon" (1937) and "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946). These early
"feel good" movies did just that for the generations accustomed to world
war and depression. They still make us feel good today because the
themes of these movies are positive and uplifting - spiritual in fact.
Since then, an increasing number of
films have appeared in theaters outwardly categorized as comedy,
romance, even science fiction that have in actuality been movies with a
spiritual message, though often not recognized let alone promoted as
such. It is hard to imagine that the writers, directors and producers of
such classic sci-fi movies as "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951) and
"Forbidden Planet" (1955) were unaware of the spiritual implications of
these creative works. Clearly the climate in the film industry in those
days, and to some extent even now, simply would not have supported a
genre that is increasing becoming recognized as "spiritual cinema".
Even one such Hollywood producer,
Stephen (Deutch) Simon, was not consciously aware of any spiritually
inspired motivation when he initially championed and completed his film
"Somewhere in Time" (1980) starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour.
By the time he completed "What Dreams May Come" in (1998) with Robin
Williams however, Stephen was fully consciously aware of the spiritual
path he was following - one he fully embraces today both personally and
With the encouragement of his now close
friend Neale Donald Walsh, Stephen has written a book titled "The Force
is with you - Mystical Movie Messages That Inspire Our Lives" Hampton
Roads Publishing Company, 2002. The book is another part of Simon's
journey and contains personal commentary on his own projects as well as
outlines of over 50 or so movies filmed in the last 75 years that he
feels fit the designation "spiritual cinema". The book serves as a
wonderful playbook for movie buffs who are interested in concentrating
their future viewing on movies in this genre. To make it even easier to
view these movies, Stephen has started a company that will send movies
of this ilk to your home by mail for it's subscribers.
You can learn more about becoming a
subscriber by going to
http://www.SpiritualCinemaCircle.com. For those
preferring to borrow or rent their films locally, a listing of the
movies Stephen has written about can be found in his book or to the
Another book of interest to
the do-it-yourself movie viewer is titled "Reel Spirit-A Guide to Movies
That Inspire, Explore and Empower" Unity House Publishers, 2000 by
Raymond Teague. Teague, self described life long movie buff and
associate editor at Unity House Publishing, has included reviews of more
than 400 movies. While the book contains many of the same selections as
Simon's book it is interesting how their commentaries differ somewhat on
the respective movies. Teague's tome is certainly more comprehensive and
will serve the reader as an invaluable resource in planning viewing
however, I found the reference book like format too distracting and not
as easy a read as Simon's. A complete listing if the movies Teague has
reviewed is available in his book or listed below to the right.
Both authors wrote about quite a few of
the same movies, such as "The Matrix " (1999-2003), and original "Star
Wars" (1977-1983) trilogies, "Field of Dreams" (1989), "Defending Your
Life" (1991), "Sleepless in Seattle"(1993), "Forrest Gump" (1994),
"Powder" (1995),"Phenomenon" (1996),"Independence Day" (1996), "Contact"
(1997),"The Sixth Sense" (1999) and "Cast Away" (2002), many of which
were released in the last decade or two. Things seem to be changing for
the better as the pace of release appears to be increasing. In fact, a
recently completed movie entitled "Spiritual Warrior" is currently
listed in the Internet Movie Database (IMDB.com) as being in post
production as we speak. The IMDB website describes the plotline thusly;
"A story about a mysterious old man who finds the next Spiritual Warrior
in order to fight the Prince of Darkness. The old man's student finds
himself traveling in this world and the spiritual worlds to prepare the
Spiritual Warrior to complete his destiny." While the quality of the
script and production have yet to be determined, similar themes continue
to appeal to a broad audience today as they have in centuries gone by.
With the help of such insiders as
Stephen Simon, Authors like Raymond Teague and conscious viewers like
you, Hollywood is beginning to get the message that the greater good can
be served without sacrificing corporate profits. We can all be party to
countering the negativity at the box office and helping to raise the
collective consciousness level of the planet. By following our hearts
and voting with our pocketbooks in support of film, television and
publishing projects that speak to our spirituality we become the "silent
force" that continues to shape the landscape of media choices.
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