In some way, shape, or form every story takes for its model, even without intending this, the Greatest Story Ever Told. In addition, regardless of the genre or medium, stories can symbolically resemble things of God. Because of this, the Bible, and really any spiritual truth of the Faith, is easy to find reflected in the books we read, the music we listen to, and the movies and shows we watch. In this way, every story can be turned into a parable used to teach just as Jesus taught in the Gospel with His parables.
In fact, I hardly ever watch a movie anymore without connecting it back to God and His relationship with His Creation. Case in point, here are ten movies that screamed spiritual realities to me without those who made them ever intending to do so. (***This Does Include Spoilers***)
- Little Mermaid
A beautiful story about a rebellious daughter going behind her kingly father’s back to cooperate with evil to get what she wants. What a beautiful portrayal of Adam and Eve disobeying God to get what they wanted. Furthermore, and this is only in the Disney version, we are able to see at the end, when King Triton uses his magic to give his daughter legs, she could have just gone to him in the first place! Sin is always seeking one’s happiness without God. How foolish we are to not remember that we can become most happy with God in the first place.
- Star Wars: A New Hope
We can do this with every Star Wars movie, but I love this first one. Plus I most recently watched it with my kids so it’s fresh in my memory. In this episode, Han and Luke enter into the prison sector of the Death Star to rescue Princess Leia. Because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, humanity was held prisoner by sin. Jesus then became sin on the cross, entering our prison, and rescued us. On top of that you can look at the Force as grace and of course the theme of Good vs. Evil is found throughout the movie as well.
- Jurassic Park
This was my favorite movie as a kid. I almost saw it in theaters, but my friend who I was watching it with was too scared during the first scene so we had to leave. In Jurassic Park, we see humans seeking to do what is unnatural and pay the price for it. In reality, all sin is unnatural in that it is not what we were created to do. If we continue to sin without repenting, our sins can become monsters and eat us alive leaving us to suffer in our misery or death.
- The Entire Marvel Cinematic Universe Saga
Ok, this one spans a ten year character arch, so we need a bit of explanation here. Starting way back in the first Iron Man movie, Tony Stark was a selfish, pleasure seeking egomaniac. He then is kidnapped in the Middle East and has almost a baptism-like experience in the cave he was held from which he is able to escape. He then becomes Iron Man to save others and eventually joins the Avengers. Throughout the rest of the Marvel movies he seems to go up and down on the scale of selfishness and selflessness. This roller coaster continues into Avengers End Game, the last movie of the Iron Man Saga for Marvel. It’s during this movie that Tony climbs high on the selflessness scale as he sacrifices his chance to have a happy family life at their lake house retreat and risks his life for others to go back in time to collect the infinity stones. Ultimately, he makes the greatest sacrifice in giving his life to snap his fingers wearing the gauntlet to undo Thanos and his minions.
Obviously any sacrifice of one’s own life for others in a movie points us back to Jesus, but going back to the cave in the first Iron Man, we are able to see a lot more. It’s beautiful that Tony’s refusal to stay in captivity and his resilience to withstand evil and suffering would eventually lead to saving many, many people.
Something else, immediately, the story of Joseph locked in prison by Potipher in the Book of Genesis comes to mind. Sometimes God allows us to go through suffering because He has a greater purpose in mind for us through that suffering. Tony Stark would never have become Iron Man without being kidnapped and thus the world might have fallen to Thanos without him. That’s something to think about the next time we go through a period of suffering. What is God’s purpose for us?
- The Matrix
This movie is most definitely an amazing depiction of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. On top of that we see Neo discovering the true reality of the human existence of his time from which he hopes to save humanity. Humans have fallen prey to machines that have turned us into batteries that, leaving us connected by cables and sleeping in tubes so that we can consciously exist in what is known as the Matrix, we give power to the machines. Neo joins the resistant group of humans and then makes it his mission to save humanity. Neo is also referred to as the Chosen One in this movie, which points us to Jesus as the Anointed One or Christ (Messiah in Hebrew).
Then there’s the part when one of Neo’s team members betrays everyone (like Judas) because he wants to continue living in the false reality that he thinks is better than the real world that he suffers in. To me that is like every sin we commit in which we believe that if what we seek is good (like being happy), it does not matter what we do. This guy kills everyone to get what he wants. What bad things do we rationalize and follow through on in order to get what we want?
- X-Men: Days of Future Past
Ok quick warning, you do see Hugh Jackman’s bare butt in this movie and someone drops an F-bomb. Still, I love the Christian symbolism you can find in this, as well as in the other X-Men movies. Really, every time I think of the X-Men, mutants who are outlawed and looked down upon because of their powers, I think of the early Christians, people who were outlawed and looked down upon because of their beliefs.
In this installment, Wolverine goes back in time to stop Raven from killing someone, an event that would lead to the invention of a terrible weapon, basically giant robots, that would bring about the death of many many mutants. This is a great reminder that our choices, and in particular our choices fueled by hatred, can have lasting consequences.
While wolverine is being propelled back in time, from the powers of another mutant, the robots are at the doors of the building where Professor X and the team are as they are fighting to save mutant life. Now, the battle between the mutants and humans that these weapons bring about causes the future that Professor X and his team to live in is a dark, dystopian place. So we can also see that his desire to stop the creation of this weapon will also help humanity as well. This can be said of every X-men movie, but I am always impressed that Professor X wants to save the very people who want to kill him, which is very much like Jesus.
- Patriots Day
Of course there is a nice good vs. evil theme throughout this movie starring Mark Wahlberg and a trimmed down John Goodman, but there is one scene in particular that really stood out to me. This movie is based on the bombing of the Boston Marathon in April of 2013 and the strength of the people of Boston, particularly their police force, as they face evil together and triumph during their difficult encounter with it.
There is a good amount of cursing in this, but it does take place in Boston so. The overall message seen through watching people experience the hardships of losing limbs and having other serious difficulties is quite inspiring. Plus, at the end they show you videos in which they interview the real people involved, which I found tremendous.
The scene that struck me was toward the end when the terrorist on the run was hiding in a boat in an old man’s back yard. Once they found him, he was soon surrounded by Boston Cops and FBI agents pointing guns right at him. This might sound weird, but I thought of a poor sinner far from God likened to the guy hiding in the boat. When we sin and go away from God, we hide from Him, but He surrounds us, intently watching us, and is ready to pour out His grace and mercy upon us when we surrender. So the analogy here is that like a swat team longs to capture a terrorists so does God long to pour His Love and Mercy onto us and capture our hearts.
- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
This movie is a bona fide classic now. So funny. In it, an amateur scientist named Flint Lockwood invents a machine that changes the weather to make it produce food instead of hail, snow, and rain. There is even a pasta tornado. After discovering that the food is only getting bigger, and the weather is getting more dangerous, Flint resolves to shut down the machine.
In comes the sneaky mayor who whispers into the ear of Flint, much like the serpent in the Garden of Eden, promises of grandeur and fame if Flint continues using the machine. Flint considers the decision for a bit, but then falls to temptation and ends up destroying his town.
Truly, the scene is like watching St. Augustine’s “Three Stages of Sin” take place right before your eyes. A tremendous example for us to remember when we meet temptation. Also, the story is a good reminder that stories can show certain sins and the downfall they bring as a deterrent for one to follow that example.
- The Hobbit
This one might be cheating as J.R.R. Tolkein wrote the book that this movie was based on with the intent of passing on fragments of the Faith through symbols found in the story, but I think those who made the movie did not intend thais so I will count it. Plus, I love the meaning you can pull from this story.
It is the story of a hobbit living quite comfortably doing whatever he wants, yet leading a good life. Soon, adventure finds him as he is invited to leave his comfort to go on a noble and dangerous quest to assist others and accomplish great things. I just love the understanding passed through this story that sometimes to do great things, we need to leave our comfort zones. Basically, to be holy is hard, but worth it.
- Knives Out
So this is really true for every mystery solving sleuth movie (or book). The activity of finding evidence to deduce a solution to the identity of the killer is almost exactly what we are doing everyday on this earth. Although, we are not proving the identity of a killer, but a Creator, we still put together the evidence that surrounds us on this planet, and in this reality that we live, and come to the conclusion that their is a God and He loves us.
Why else would He create us. Why else who He leave reflections of His power, creativity, and beauty in the world for us to experience. And the Beauty He gives us is a pure example of the truth that He loves us. Why else would He have us live in a beautiful world? He leaves all of these clues to find, think about, and then arrive at the conclusion that He exists, loves us, and invites us into a relationship with Him.
In this movie, Daniel Craig, who I absolutely loved in this role, plays a detective who gathers clues, interviews suspects, and thinks really hard about his case to eventually discover, with the help of a friend, the identity of the murderer (Just like we do with God). There are a lot of twists and turns in this one, which makes it absolutely fun. It’s tragic as well, which seems like a throwback to one of Shakespeare’s tragic plays.
These are just a few of many many movies that I have seen that I think can bring us beautiful messages of the Faith in their stories and imagery. If you have any others that you find inspiring or teach great lessons, we would love to hear about them. Please share with us either in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.