Saturday, December 22, 2007

Every Film A Sermon

by Leslie Foster

You play, in so many of your movies, these very inspirational figures. And then, in others, of course, you play the bad guy. To what extent do your faith and values play a role in choosing parts?

Even in a role like "Training Day," the first thing I wrote on the script was, "The wages of sin is death." And it was important, actually, for me in making that film. They actually wanted the guy to live at the end. And I said no. I think the only way I could justify him living such an awful life, or living in the worst way, was for him to die in the worst way. I'm always looking for that--for some kind of a message. And sometimes I just choose not to do certain films.

Read the rest of beliefnet's interview with Denzel Washington here.

Washington's belief that every film he does is a ministry may seem like quite a stretch to some. However, we live in a era in which film is our literature, and even in his darkest films, perhaps Washington is doing what Flannery O'Connor did in the mid 20th century or what the book of Judges has done for thousands of years.

They demonstrated truth not by showing the lives of perfect people, but by digging into the hidden darkness of human kind, and through that darkness exposed people to the depths of their own shadows but also to the light that dispels those shadows. To quote O' Connor, "All my stories are about the action of grace on a character who is not very willing to support it, but most people think of these stories as hard, hopeless and brutal."


  1. Thanks for this thought prompter. I think it is a great misnomer that Christian art or entertainment should only be G-rated and family-friendly. The prophetic voice of Christian artists sometimes needs to "kick the darkness til it bleeds daylight"—to borrow a phrase. And that sometimes means going to dark, violent and ugly places in their art. Unfortunately, life isn't rated G or PG and we need the maturity to be able to engage life on its own terms at times.