Many movies are based on or inspired by real events, but there is a continuum of dramatic license in movies based on or inspired by true events. This spring moviegoers will see this in redemptive movies. On March 3, UInterview reports that the trailer for God’s Not Dead 2 has been released before the full film releases to theaters April 1. This movie, which is a sequel to the 2014 hit, features Melissa Joan Hart and Jesse Metcalfe in a compelling movie inspired by true events that are listed at the end of the movie.
In God’s Not Dead 2, Grace Wesley, who is a history teacher played effectively by Melissa Joan Hart, answers a student’s question about Jesus Christ in the context of a discussion on non-violent resistance and refers to the Bible, She is consequently fired and has her teacher’s certification revoked. She ends up in a court case. Captivating performances are given by the following and more: Ernie Hudson, Hayley Orrantia, David A.R. White, Sadie Robertson, Robin Givens, Maria Canals-Barrera, the late Fred Thompson, and Pat Boone.
Right now in theaters, Risen is redemptive movie that is inspired by true events. Risen (PG-13, teens and adults) with Joseph Fiennes is one of the best movies in theaters in recent years. The acting, cinematography, music, and comic relief are captivating.
March 11, The Young Messiah is another fine redemptive movie due for release to theaters that is inspired by true events. The music for this engaging movie is by the composer for Passion of the Christ, John Debny. The Young Messiah (PG-13, children through adults) has compelling performances against cinematographic backgrounds in international locations.
March 18, Miracles From Heaven is another outstanding movie based on true events. In an exclusive interview with the Beam Family, whose story is told in Miracles From Heaven, Christy Beam has told Austin Move Examiner that they were pleased with how the movie presented their story, although some dramatic elements were added for effective, cinematographic storytelling.
In Miracles from Heaven Jennifer Garner gives a strong, heart-felt performance. The Young Messiah and Miracles From Heaven are both suitable for children through adults. Kylie Rogers, as central character Anna Beam, gives a fine performance as a role model for young people in Miracles From Heaven. In this movie Queen Latifah gives a delightful and heart-felt performance as Angela.
All four of these redemptive movies have outstanding acting by notable actors, effective storytelling, compelling cinematography in believable and authentic appearing situations and locations. Three are inspired by true events and one is based on true events. It is important to note that there are differences among movies that are inspired by true events, based on true accounts, and reenactments of real events as in a documentary.
There is a continuum of increasing dramatic license taken with films as non-fictional reenactments of true events, with fictional ones based on actual events, and with fictional ones inspired by true events. The same is true of historical fiction literature and non-fiction literature.
Movies and books that are inspired by true events and take dramatic license with the storytelling like historical fiction does should encourage viewers and readers to go to original sources to study the culture, language, history and more to learn as much about factual events as possible. With faith-based and biblical movies that are inspired by actual events and have dramatic storytelling license, viewers should go to the biblical accounts and works of biblical scholars to learn more.
Dr. Ted Baehr founder and publisher of Movieguide® writes, “Even if a movie is word for word, like The Gospel of John, the casting, the set direction, the locations, are all products of the filmmaker’s imagination. For instance, did Jesus have … dark skin, light skin, long hair, short hair? None of these movies are totally accurate in representing Jesus, His apostles or the world of Israel at that time…
What people really need to look for, therefore, when they approach a movie, a television program, a book, a work of art, or a sermon is, does it cohere to a creedal, biblical theology and view of God, reality, humanity, sin, and/or salvation? If it does, then it can bless people. If it does not, then it can lead people astray.”
CBS News quotes Ann Hornaday, chief film critic for the Washington Post, “Generally if you see ‘based on,’ you tend to assume that the filmmaker is sending the signal that everything happened…When you see ‘inspired by,’ you get the signal that some more liberties are going to be taken.”