In the style of a cinematic travel journal, film columnist and critic Jeffrey Overstreet of Christianity Today and lookingcloser.org leads readers down paths less traveled to explore some of the best films you've never seen. Examining a feast of movies, from blockbusters to buried treasure, Overstreet peels back the layers of work by popular entertainers and underappreciated masters. He shares excerpts from conversations with filmmakers like Peter Jackson, Wim Wenders, Kevin Smith, and Scott Derrickson, producer Ralph Winter, and stars like Elijah Wood, Ian McKellan, Keanu Reeves, and the cast of Serenity, drawing "war-stories" from his encounters with movie stars, moviemakers, moviegoers, and other critics in both mainstream and religious circles. He argues that what makes some films timeless rather than merely popular has everything to do with the way these artists--whether they know it or not--have captured reflections of God in their work. Through a Screen Darkly also includes a collection of reviews, humorous anecdotes, and on-the-scene film festival reports, as well as recommendations for movie discussion groups and meditations on how different films echo the myriad ways in which Christ captured the attention and imagination of culture.
If viewing a film is to be a spiritual exercise, one must be open to conversion. Overstreet, cultural commentator and film critic for Christianity Today, leads readers through his own cinematic conversion in this compelling volume. Overstreet's greatest gift is the masterful way he brings a spirit of discernment to the world of film. For example, determining when sex and violence is artfully employed or when it is just plain gratuitous is not always an easy task. Overstreet uses inspiring anecdotes from his life to show how the process of discerning the content and meaning of films takes patience, prayer and humility. He exhibits all of these traits through his movie commentaries and invites the reader to set aside biases about what is "properly" Christian and look deeper toward how cinema as an art form affects one's soul. This, according to Overstreet, is the work of God. At times, the author's stories distract from his main point, but his primary goal is one to be celebrated: "I have a strange compulsion to sit down between Christian culture and secular society, trying to help them understand each other and ultimately, God better through a shared experience of art." Two thumbs up!