Modern movies are truly amazing. Thanks to the combined efforts of CGI and digital animation, audiences can now watch all sorts of adventures in epic, pixelated glory. But for all the style these movies have acquired, many have lost their substance. Younger Christians today are facing a similar problem. Distractions such as iPhones, social media, and the rise of secularism have left a majority of teenaged believers with only a cursory understanding of what it means to be Christian.
To solve this dilemma, we need to look away from our phones and back to a time when things were different. Older films may not have had the same “sparkle” as they do now, but they did have powerful stories that inspired their viewers. If you’re a Christian parent or youth leader, here are five classic films that will help your teenager build their faith.
Chariots of Fire
Every Christian teenager should know the story of Eric Liddell. Born in China to Scottish missionaries, Liddell would go on to represent Great Britain in the 1924 Olympic Games. His talent and love for running made him an ideal competitor, but when forced to choose between his faith and Olympic gold, Liddell chose Christ. Chariots of Fire is a brilliant adaption of Liddell’s story, showcasing powerful moments of grace, perseverance, and courage in the face of overwhelming prejudice.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Frank Capra’s classic film about an idealistic young senator who takes on corruption in Washington is a must-see for any teenager. When Jefferson Smith accidentally stumbles onto a graft scheme created by some crooked politicians, he risks everything to defend the principles America was built upon. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington gives its viewers a crash course in American politics while encouraging them to face injustice with honesty and transparency. It’s a bold story of how truth can never be silenced so long as good men speak it.
Young Christians often hear that following Christ means taking up their cross daily, but few actually know what that looks like. The Mission is a unique films that can show them. Set in 1750, the movie follows a group of Jesuit priests as they enter the South American jungle to minister to the local tribes. Their humble mission soon comes into conflict with slavers, who have been kidnapping natives for the Portuguese plantations. What follows is a tragic story of redemption and the wages of compromise.
Inherit the Wind
Chuck Colson once wrote that if believers wanted to understand why our cultural elites see Christians as poor, ignorant, and easy to command, they should watch Inherit the Wind. Based on the 1925 Scopes “Monkey” Trial, the film reenacts the dramatic events that took place within the courtroom while examining themes of faith, evolution, and free-thought. Though it’s true the film paints an unflattering portrait of Christianity, Colson’s evaluation is only half right. Inherit the Wind can also teach young Christians that they don’t need to sacrifice their intelligence or curiosity in order to follow God. Rather, the two should work to strengthen an individual’s faith.
Saving Private Ryan
Steven Spielberg’s epic tale of war is easily one of the greatest films ever created. Chronicling the events of World War II, viewers are introduced to a small company of soldiers as they search for the missing Private Ryan. For teenagers, Saving Private Ryan is a harsh but necessary lesson in some of life’s greatest truths: That freedom does not come without cost, that life is too precious to be wasted, and that true evil can only be vanquished with courage and sacrifice. Christian audiences everywhere can only benefit from watching this masterful piece of filmmaking.
What about you? What classic movies do you believe a Christian teenagers should see?