What do you see when you watch a film? Do you leave the theater influenced by the images or the story? Perhaps the soundtrack plays continually in your head for the next few days.
No one walks away untouched; movies have an influence on us. It may be slight, but it's there. Movies are the language of our culture. References to movies, lines we've memorized from our favorites, fill our conversations.
As with any entertainment, we can choose to approach our consumption of it thoughtfully, weighing it against our moral framework to determine the worth of its influence. Or we can mindlessly consume it, never questioning its impact on our selves and our family.
Equipped to Watch
For those who wish to be equipped to watch film thoughtfully, Scott Nehring's book You Are What You See is an important tool. He carefully examines our culture, provides instruction about film structure, and provides specific references to familiar movies to illustrate his points.
Nehring is careful not to condemn or condone, but to instruct. He leaves that up to the reader, conscious that each person must use their own judgment and discretion, as each of us are affected in different ways and at different levels by things such as sex, violence, and language. He doesn't deem things as "Christian" and "un-Christian,"
Peppered throughout his work are quotes from various filmmakers and actors that give a peek into their perspectives that affect their art. He also uses multitudinous examples from films spanning more than 70 years. He's not trying to lead the reader to a conclusion, but to educate and train the reader to be a more careful viewer.
Perhaps what I admire most about Nehring's book is his consistent reference back to the premise of the book: Movies do affect us and our culture. We can either enter the fray with knowledge and analytical skills, or we can just casually approach movie viewing, uncaring and unaware of its affect on us.
This book has a place in my library, and I'd recommend it for anyone who wants to dig deeper into films and their meaning beyond the obvious.
About the Author
Scott Nehring is a film critic whose reviews can be found on his site Good News Film Reviews and ChristianCinema.com. His plain-talking movie reviews have also been seen on the websites for USAToday, Reuters, The Chicago Sun-Times, The India Times, and FoxNews along with numerous local television station websites.
Scott is also the author of the ground-breaking book You Are What You See: Watching Movies Through a Christian Lens. Visit the book's website for more information. In his book, Scott introduces readers to the power of story and affirms that educated, alert audiences are the key to both a healthy culture and improvement of the Arts.