Preachers know that deep insights into life, and excellent illustrative stories, can be found all over the place for those who are alert to keep looking.   Literature and journalism are an excellent place to unearth such things, and that is why the CEP website has a “Reading for Preaching” section of quotes and insights drawn from books and newspapers.  But film is also a great place to discover stories and insights and so we offer this “Movies for Preaching” section.  Many of these film summaries and individual vignettes from films are written by film expert Roy Anker, professor emeritus of English at Calvin College. Here and there time markers are included so you can go right to the appropriate spot in the movie to see a given scene.  We hope these will enrich your preaching life.

Preaching Connection Title Director
Providence, Life, Joy It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) Frank Capra
Love, Salvation, Redemption Star Wars: Episode VI–The Return of the Jedi (1983) – 2 Richard Marquand
Love, Redemption, Transformation Star Wars: Episode VI–The Return of the Jedi (1983) – 1 Richard Marquand
Divine Existence, Tragedy, First Commandment Decalogue 1 (1989) – 2 Kryszstof Kieslowski
God, Life, Divine Existence Decalogue 1 (1989) Kryszstof Kieslowski
Death The Thin Red Line (1998) – 5 Terrence Malick
Transcendence, Glory, Creation The Thin Red Line (1998) – 4 Terrence Malick
Power and Evil The Thin Red Line (1998) – 3 Terrence Malick
Mystery, Life, Meaning The Thin Red Line (1998) – 2 Terrence Malick
Death, Meaning, Glory The Thin Red Line (1998) – 1 Terrence Malick
Aliveness, Life, Delight, Grace Awakenings (1990) Penny Marshall
Providence Babette’s Feast (1987) – 3 Gabriel Axel
Reconciliation, Sacrament, Joy Babette’s Feast (1987) – 2 Gabriel Axel
Creation, Delight, Wonder Babette’s Feast (1987) – 1 Gabriel Axel
Suffering, Loss, Divine Love Three Colors: Blue (1993) Krzysztof Kieslowski
Faith, Assurance, Revelation Wide Awake (1998) – 2 M. Night Shyamalan
God, Love, Religion Wide Awake (1998) – 1 M. Night Shyamalan
Doxology, Praise, Creation John Adams (2008) Tom Hooper
Creation, Beauty, Revelation Séraphine (2008) Martin Provost
Religion, Experience, Discernment Grand Canyon (1991) – 2 Lawrence Kasdan
Religion, Experience, Discernment Grand Canyon (1991) – 1 Lawrence Kasdan
Power, Mystery, Deception Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) Steven Spielberg
Mystery, Piety, Transcendence Ida (2013) Pawel Pawlikowski
Evil Dark Knight (2008) & More Christopher Nolan
Love, Loss Wonder Woman (2017) Patty Jenkins
Joy, Delight Fargo (1996) – 2 Joel Cohen, Ethan Cohen
Greed, Evil, Folly Fargo (1996) – 1 Joel Cohen, Ethan Cohen
Guilt, Confession, Absolution Heaven (2002) Tom Tykwer
Confession A Man Called Ove (2015) – 2 Hannes Holm
Reconciliation, Life A Man Called Ove (2015) – 1 Hannes Holm
Astonishment Superman (1978) – 2 Richard Donner
Incarnation Superman (1978) – 1 Richard Donner
Resurrection E.T. the Extra Terrestrial (1982) – 3 Steven Spielberg
Incarnation E.T. the Extra Terrestrial (1982) – 2 Steven Spielberg
Ascension E.T. the Extra Terrestrial (1982) – 1 Steven Spielberg
Fruit of the Spirit The Force Awakens (2015) & The Return of the Jedi (1980) J. J. Abrams (2015) Richard Marquand (1980)
The Kingdom of God Places in the Heart (1984) – 3 Robert Benton
The Kingdom of God Places in the Heart (1984) – 2 Robert Benton
Evil Places in the Heart (1984) – 1 Robert Benton
The Kingdom of God Tender Mercies (1983) – 2 Bruce Beresford
Holy Spirit Tender Mercies (1983) – 1 Bruce Beresford
Redemption The Godfather: Part III (1990) – 2 Francis Ford Coppola
Confession The Godfather: Part III (1990) – 1 Francis Ford Coppola
The Kingdom of God The Innocents (2016) Anne Fontaine
Mystery, Gospel The Mission (1986) Roland Joffe'
Delight The Tree of Life (2011) – 2 Terrence Malick
Creation The Tree of Life (2011) – 1 Terence Malick
Gratitude American Beauty (1999) – 2 Sam Mendes
Gratitude American Beauty (1999) – 1 Sam Mendes
Love The Color of Paradise (1999) Majid Majidi
conversion The Mission (1986) Roland Joffe'
Baptism The Shawshank Redemption (1994) – 2 Frank Darabont
Guilt The Shawshank Redemption (1994) – 1 Frank Darabont
Doxology The Color of Paradise (1999) Majid Majidi
Self-deception The Apostle (1997) Robert Duvall
Saints Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II (2011) David Yates