God and religion have frequently been the subject of movies, some of them more successful than others.
Some film makers feel they won’t find an audience for their “God” movies unless there are Biblically accurate, which can make for problems in terms of action. God as a character has no identifiable traits easily depicted on screen and his conflict with mankind is an internal one, rather than the open warfare so beloved of cinema directors.
True, there have been many famous ‘epic’ religious movies such as The Ten Commandments which have increasingly relied about special effects in order to hold their audience. Casts of thousands and megastars in the title roles can work, but can also create something so over the top that it’s ridiculed.
Conversely, there have been movies where the director has forgone many of the special effects for a pared down version of events, for example Martin Scorsese’s Last Temptation of Christ, which has minimal crowds and ‘miracles’ seeming produced in an editing suite which can reduce a film’s credibility.
The latest religious movie, Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, has elements of both types. The earth is destroyed because its natural resources have been spoilt and the movie is shot in pared down locations. God has been largely dispensed with, as an angry Noah punishes himself and his family.
Directors will continue to grapple with the problems of making a religious movie to suit their times and changing attitudes towards religion but their movies will always be thought provoking.