The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Film & Identity: Hollywood’s Take on Christianity



1. “Dogma,” 1999

The fourth film in Kevin Smith’s cinematic universe, the View Askewniverse, was released in 1999. The film centers around two fallen angels, Bartleby (Ben Affleck) and Loki (Matt Damon). Both angels plan to return to heaven through a loophole in Catholic dogma after being sent out by God. With a cast featuring famous faces like Chris Rock, Alan Rickman, Salma Hayek, Alanis Morissette, George Carlin and Jason Lee, it’s easy to see how “Dogma” would be considered a good time for audiences. However, for some moviegoers, this movie left a bad taste in their mouths. Because this movie discussed and used themes of the Catholic faith, the Catholic League — an activist group — called the film “blasphemous” while other groups held protests outside cinemas showing the movie.


2. “The Exorcist,” 1973

A classic in the horror genre and the first of many exorcism movies to follow, “The Exorcist” is a 1973 film adapted from William Peter Blatty’s novel of the same name directed by William Friedkin. The movie dives into the stories of actress Chris MacNeil and her daughter Regan, Father Lankester Merrin, and Father Damien Karras. Reagan obtains a Ouija board that houses her friend “Captain Howdy,” but as soon as the movie progresses sinister happenings begin to occur. This is another movie that tackles the Catholic faith; however, it faced several controversies. One of them was with the rating system. It was given an X rating because of how audiences had reacted regarding the movie like vomiting and fainting, even going so far as to having a psychiatric journal claim the movie gave members of the audience “cinematic neurosis.” But, once the Motion Picture Association of America realized how many kids were going to view the movie, they changed the rating to R for a more successful run.


3. “Religulous,” 2008

Directed by Larry Charles, the man responsible for the infamous cultural phenomenon “Borat,” and written by and starring Bill Maher, a man laden with controversy, “Religulous” is a 2008 documentary that follows Maher on his quest to find out why people believe what they believe when it comes to their religion. It is a rather funny and thought-provoking look into the various religions around the world. Maher goes to religious capitals of the world like Jerusalem, the Vatican and Salt Lake City, while even going to London to mockingly spout his “Scientological beliefs.”


4. “The Ten Commandments,” 1956

A thrilling and exhilarating version of the biblical story of Moses, “The Ten Commandments” is a 1956 film directed by legendary American filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille. The movie stars Charles Heston as the prodigal main character Moses and Yul Brynner as Moses’ brother-turned-rival, Rameses. The tagline for the movie was “The Greatest Event in Motion Picture History,” and at the time, it was. Filmed on location in Egypt and in Mount Sinai, it had one of the largest sets that had ever been created for a film.

5. “Seven” 1995


Directed by David Fincher, this 1995 crime thriller follows rookie and veteran detectives David Mills and William Somerset on the trail of a serial killer committing murders inspired on the seven deadly sins. The detectives follow clues from “John Doe,” the cliche name the killer gives himself. From one gruesome murder scene to the next the detectives find themselves reading Paradise Lost, uncovering secret messages on paintings, and decoding all sorts of clues they can get their hands on. Eventually, John Doe makes the detectives the final target to complete all seven deadly sins which test the character of the young strong-headed detective Mills, played by Brad Pitt, in contrast with cerebral cop Somerset, played by Morgan Freeman. Dealing with the themes of blasphemy, temptation, and evil, this film has given us one of the most memorable phrases in cinema and it is a classic of the psychological thriller genre.

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