Nearly five years ago we sat down for dinner in a Cuban restaurant in New York with Peter Malone, an incredibly prolific and intense Australian film critic, and Frank Frost, a documentary film producer, and talked about movies and the many spiritual themes lurking in them. Malone shared that he was putting together a "movie lectionary" that would tie feature films to the weekly scripture readings used by many Christian parishes. Now books for Cycle A and Cycle B are available. Although Malone, President of SIGNIS, the Vatican approved international organization for communication, and his collaborator, Sister Rose Pacatte, Director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies in Boston, are Catholics, their books can be used by those of any Christian denomination.
This volume for Cycle A of the lectionary focuses on 72 movies, relating them to a theme or moral issue raised in the Gospel reading from Matthew. Here are movies for the liturgical seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Sundays of Ordinary Time, and some additional celebrations. Also included is a synopsis of the movie and background information about it, key scenes, a section for reflection and conversation, and a prayer.
Malone is especially drawn to Christ figures in movies. In this volume and in the one for Cycle B, the following movies all target this theme: Superman, Les Miserables, Simon Birch, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Edward Scissorhands, Sommersby, The Matrix and The Spitfire Grill. We also liked the tie-ins with Thanksgiving (Pay It Forward) and All Saints Day (Paradise Road).
Leaders of small groups of adults or youth will find plenty of guidance here on the meanings of movies. Check out Malone and Pacatte on hope in The Lion King, forgiveness in Les Miserables, healing in The Horse Whisperer, love in Marvin's Room, compassion in The Doctor, justice in A Civil Action, reconciliation in Big Night, and much more. In this DVD age, when many older films are being reissued and even new films are available at affordable prices, Lights, Camera . . . Faith! A Movie Lover's Guide to Scripture is a very relevant resource for Christian parishes.