Yesterday I had a few of my (year 7-9) Sunday school kids over to watch Kung Fu Panda on dvd. We made some popcorn, drank soft drink, and in general it was a good afternoon.
Trying to have a discussion afterwards, I asked them if they could see any Christian, or other messages in what they had seen. The majority response seemed to be that there were no such messages, as it was “only a movie”.
Though in reality we moved from there to playing wii sports, if I had been better prepared, and if they had been in a better mood to discuss things, I would have tried to explain that there’s no such thing as “only a movie”.
Movies provide one of the last points of shared histories that people can have. You might have nothing in common with someone, but you can both talk about how you reacted to “the usual suspects”.
Movies, too, often have underlying messages of redemption or even a saviour character: sometimes a Christian message can be taken away, at other times, a movie captures the zeitgeist of the time, and helps the viewer understand what the people around them are thinking.
In the case of the PG-rated “Kung Fu Panda”, there are messages of what is important in life, of what happens when you die, of the importance of hard work, but of the greater importance if being passionate and funny. We see that it’s ok to ignore your parents if you’re chasing a dream, that old people can learn from young people, and, of course, that good always triumphs over evil. How many of those messages will kids watching the film take on board? It’s not easy to say. But for parents, and people who have the repsponsibility of teaching kids, it’s worth thinking about.
Something I’m hoping to be better at this year is engaging with movies, and talking about them with other people. Does anyone have any tips on how to do this?