Toward films with spiritual vision

Whether we see films in a musty local movie house, in a ten-theater complex, or on a videocassette recorder at a friend's house, the larger-than-life images in film have a way of setting patterns for our everyday lives. They say: "This is love. " "This is power. " "This has meaning." But all too often the power, love, and vision so central to film plots are at odds with the real needs in our world. Is there a way for films, filmmakers, and filmgoers to break through to a more genuine reading of the human condition? Is it possible that insights from a film could even point people toward spiritual answers for humanity's needs?

The Sentinel asked Horton Foote to share some of his views on these and related questions. Mr. Foote, a Christian Scientist, has written the screenplays for such films as To Kill a Mockingbird and Tender Mercies. (These two screenplays won Oscars.) More recently he has adapted for the screen several of his own plays; among them are A Trip to Bountiful, On Valentine's Day, and Courtship. His interviewer is Marilynne Mason, also a Christian Scientist, who works as a film critic for a Denver, Colorado, weekly and teaches film appreciation at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Marilynne Mason: In many ways your plays deal with ordinary people. There is often a sense of hidden nobility—something beautiful, true. In your screenplay Tender Mercies the wife is a catalyst for Mac's reformation. In Tomorrow the main character's capacity for love endures despite everything. In Bountiful the aging Carrie Watts forgives and loves despite the petty cruelties of her daughter-in-law. In a time when society is fascinated with the rich and famous, why do you choose the common man?

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Spiritual originality in a mundane world
April 27, 1987

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