Movies and the Imitative Arts - Quotes


"You see, the Bible does not say, “In the beginning was video.” It says in the beginning was the Word."

"What then do we make of our time when the camera controls the imagination of young minds? I am afraid some day we will wake up and wonder how we were so foolish to have missed this powerful influence. And we cannot run from it. We are in it. From the pictures that tell the story, to the music that is now visualized, we are in it. The sensations are being propelled through the eye-gate. It is not without reason that Jesus warned His listeners to let the eye be single, for it is the lamp of the body.

The implications here are extremely important. For decades science has been seen as an exacting discipline of the intellect, and the arts as a free-floating realm of the imagination. With the advance of computers, may I suggest to you that the two disciplines will converge, and the imagination may place the demand upon the sciences till a free-floating technological power will play the role of a creator of people’s fantasies. The intellect will be seduced by the imagination. The tower of Babel could well be built with one language—only it will be in pictures and accessed by buttons.

But there is another side to this, and we should not forget it. Just because this generation thinks visually does not mean they do not think deeply. They do, about the issues that trouble them. One day my eighteen-year-old son phoned home from school and said he would be a little late after school because he was stopping at the shopping mall to get something. When my wife asked him what it was he was getting, he was a little reluctant to share it because he was not sure how we would react. Then he told her what it was. He was stopping to order a little chain to put around his neck, with a pendant that just said “13.” It did not take long to figure it out, and he explained his reason. Just a few days before, in that dreadful shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, thirteen had been mercilessly shot to death. “I want to remember them,” he said, “especially the courage of the ones who were willing to lay down their lives for Jesus Christ.” You see, none of us as adults would have thought of expressing it that way. Our expression was in words. Young people often do it in symbols, and they are just as deep."

A.W. Tozer, "The Menace of the Religious Movie".

"For the motion picture as such I have no irrational allergy. It is a mechanical invention merely and is in its essence amoral; that is, it is neither good nor bad, but neutral. With any physical object or any creature lacking the power of choice it could not be otherwise. Whether such an object is useful or harmful depends altogether upon who uses it and what he uses it for."

"Now, what is wrong with all this? Why should any man object to this or go out of his way to oppose its use in the house of God? Here is my answer:
"1. It violates the scriptural law of hearing"
"2. The religious movie embodies the mischievous notion that religion is, or can be made, a form of entertainment."
"3. The religious movie is a menace to true religion because it embodies acting, a violation of sincerity."

"Sincerity for each man means staying in character with himself. Christ's controversy with the Pharisees centered around their incurable habit of moral play acting. The Pharisee constantly pretended to be what he was not. He attempted to vacate his own "I-ness" and appear in that of another and better man. He assumed a false character and played it for effect. Christ said he was a hypocrite.

It is more than an etymological accident that the word "hypocrite" comes from the stage. It means actor. With that instinct for fitness which usually marks word origins, it has been used to signify one who has violated his sincerity and is playing a false part. An actor is one who assumes a character other than his own and plays it for effect. The more fully he can become possessed by another personality the better he is as an actor."

"4. They who present the gospel movie owe it to the public to give biblical authority for their act: and this they have not done."

"5. God has ordained four methods only by which Truth shall prevail---and the religious movie is not one of them."

"Without attempting to arrange these methods in order of importance, they are prayer, song, proclamation of the message by means of words, and good works."

"6. The religious movie is out of harmony with the whole spirit of the Scriptures and contrary to the mood of true Godliness."

"To harmonize the spirit of the religious movie with the spirit of the Sacred Scriptures is impossible. Any comparison is grotesque and, if it were not so serious, would be downright funny. Try to imagine Elijah appearing before Ahab with a roll of film! Imagine Peter standing up at Pentecost and saying, "Let's have the lights out, please." When Jeremiah hesitated to prophesy, on the plea that he was not a fluent speaker, God touched his mouth and said, "I have put my words in thy mouth." Perhaps Jeremiah could have gotten on well enough without the divine touch if he had had a good 16mm projector and a reel of home-talent film."

"If the movie is needed to supplement anointed preaching it can only be because God's appointed method is inadequate and the movie can do something which God's appointed method cannot do. What is that thing? We freely grant that the movie can produce effects which preaching cannot produce (and which it should never try to produce), but dare we strive for such effects in the light of God's revealed will and in the face of the judgment and a long eternity?"

"7. I am against the religious movie because of the harmful effect upon everyone associated with it."

"First, the evil effect upon the "actors" who play the part of the various characters in the show; this is not the less because it is unsuspected. Who can, while in a state of fellowship with God, dare to play at being a prophet? Who has the gall to pretend to be an apostle, even in a show? Where is his reverence? Where is his fear? Where is his humility? Any one who can bring himself to act a part for any purpose, must first have grieved the Spirit and silenced His voice within the heart."

"Secondly, it identifies religion with the theatrical world"

"Thirdly, the taste for drama which these pictures develop in the minds of the young will not long remain satisfied with the inferior stuff the religious movie can offer."

"Fourthly, the rising generation will naturally come to look upon religion as another, and inferior, form of amusement."

"Fifthly, the religious movie is the lazy preacher's friend."

Tozer, Roots of the Righteous

“I believe that entertainment and amusements are the work of the Enemy to keep dying men from knowing they're dying; and to keep enemies of God from remembering that they're enemies.”

"The average man... has become a parasite on the world, drawing his life from his environment, unable to live a day apart from the stimulation which society affords him"

"The great god Entertainment amuses his devotees mainly by telling them stories. The love of stories, which is a characteristic of childhood, has taken fast hold of the minds of the retarded saints of our day, so much so that not a few persons manage to make a comfortable living by spinning yarns and serving them up in various disguises to church people."

Leonard Ravenhill

"Entertainment is the devil's substitute for joy. Because there isn't enough power in the house of God, people are always looking for something to take its place." (The Judgment Seat of Christ)

"I am angry that the Church, in many (and maybe most) cases, is an entertainment center." (Be Ye Angry and Sin Not)

Ravi Zacharias, "How Should Christians Watch TV"

"If anyone can conquer my imagination, he has conquered me."
"Appeals to the imagination can bypass the will and reason, and hold captive the conscience. This is why music and television are such powerful forces; they have that potential of circumventing the guardians of the soul."

"Second, television controls enormous themes in simplistic ways, making the viewer morally uncritical."

"Third, television produces a debilitating effect in concentration spans. How is it possible for a child raised on fast-moving scenes and cartoon characters to find his teacher exciting?"

"Fourth, television sets up heroes and models for the young who become almost cultic in their zeal."

"Last, from this writer's perspective, television produces a sociological phenomenon where authority is completely dislocated. A person becomes authoritative because he or she is well-known. Thus, a film actress who has no moral beliefs whatsoever becomes a powerful voice defending abortion."

"The illusionary world of most television programming runs from reality, distorts and makes enticing a way of life that is a lie. Let us instead, with all our minds seek God's truth, and do all to the glory of God. Quite candidly, could you imagine Jesus sitting in front of this instrument and feeding his mind on it?"

Bill Bright, Interview on CBN by Michael Little

Little: "Would you say that the 'Jesus' film has won more people to Christ?"

Bright: "There have been over 4.2 billion in 645 languages in 235 countries believe the film. We have reason to believe there are hundreds of millions who have made some kind of decision."

Little: "Sometimes I've read as many as 1/3 of the people who view it actually pray to receive?"

Bright: "I've seen occasions where most of the people present did that."

Little: "Yes".

Bright: "I remember a pastor of a large church in Nairobi, Kenya wanted to start a new church. So we took the film to a part of the city where there was a lot of foot-traffic and started the film. No one there but us. Soon there were about 1,500 people stopped to see it. And when the invitation was given over one half of them indicated they wanted to receive the Lord. So we started the church immediately."

Little: "Just like that?"

Bright: "You know about the Dawn Ministry?"

Little: "Yes, sure."

Bright: "Mr. Steele said their reports indicate that through the 'Jesus' film and other evangelism in which we were involved, over 750,000 churches have been started.


Psychological Effects of Method Acting, Wikipedia. June 13, 2013

"Method acting is employed by actors to evoke realistic emotions into their performance by drawing on personal experiences. Raymond Hamden, doctor of Clinical and Forensic Psychology, defines the purpose of method acting as “compartmentalizing their own feelings while playing another character [so] they could bring the emotions of that personal feeling to cry if they needed to with that character.” However, when these emotions are not compartmentalized, they can encroach on other facets of life, often seeming to disrupt the actor’s psyche. This occurs as the actor delves into previous emotional experiences, be they joyful or traumatic. The psychological effects, like emotional fatigue, comes, however when suppressed or unresolved raw emotions are unburied to add to the character. not just from the employing personal emotions in performance. The question becomes whether the actor calls up resolved or unresolved emotions in their acting."

"It is commonly believed that there is a strong correlation between acting and the physiological reaction to acting. According to the task-emotion theory, “the positive emotions of the actor should be coupled with a specific physiological activation. In particular, excited physical reactions were expected to co-exist with task-emotions such as tension, excitement, and challenge.”

The danger comes when control precedence “manifests itself by sudden interruptions of behavior, changes in behavior or by persistence of [character’s] behavior.”. “Control precedence” by emotions is the “feelings, thoughts, impulses, actions or activation going along with aroused emotion that takes precedence over other planned or half executed thoughts, feelings, impulses, etc.” Control precedence is the main concern for method acting. It proves a challenge for actors to come out of character after employing method acting techniques, sometimes altering their behavior, urging them to follow impulses that would be foreign to their own personal nature. This difficulty of returning to one’s own behavior is the common concern linked with method acting.

Suzanne Burgoyne, Karen Poulin, Ashley Rearden,
The Impact of Acting on Student Actors: Boundary Blurring, Growth, and Emotional Distress

"The theory suggests that the blurring of boundaries between actor and character may be a significant condition for impact, and that the actor's ability to control that blurring may influence whether an acting experience leads to growth or emotional distress. Since some inside-out approaches to acting encourage the actor to use her own personal experience in building a character, thus facilitating boundary blurring, this theory has major implications for theatre pedagogy.

While some of our interviewees have learned through experience that boundary blurring may become problematic, none of them reported having been taught boundary management."

"Awareness of boundary blurring appears to be a first step for students to develop strategies for boundary management. Although teachers may understand that acting can have psychological side-effects, our interviews reveal that young actors may be unaware of that possibility until they have an emotionally distressing experience. On the basis of the theory emerging from this study, we suggest that the theatre profession address boundary management as an aspect of acting pedagogy."

Plato, The Republic

"In saying this, I intended to imply that we must come to an understanding about the mimetic art, --whether the poets, in narrating their stories, are to be allowed by us to imitate, and if so, whether in whole or in part, and if the latter, in what parts; or should all imitation be prohibited?"

"no one man can imitate many things as well as he would imitate a single one?"

"Then the same person will hardly be able to play a serious part in life, and at the same time to be an imitator and imitate many other parts as well; for even when two species of imitation are nearly allied, the same persons cannot succeed in both, as, for example, the writers of tragedy and comedy"

Aristotle, Poetics 

"Poetry in general seems to have sprung from two causes, each of them lying deep in our nature. First, the instinct of imitation is implanted in man from childhood, one difference between him and other animals being that he is the most imitative of living creatures, and through imitation learns his earliest lessons; and no less universal is the pleasure felt in things imitated."

"Next, there is the instinct for 'harmony' and rhythm, meters being manifestly sections of rhythm. Persons, therefore, starting with this natural gift developed by degrees their special aptitudes, till their rude improvisations gave birth to Poetry."

"Poetry now diverged in two directions, according to the individual character of the writers. The graver spirits imitated noble actions, and the actions of good men. The more trivial sort imitated the actions of meaner persons, at first composing satires, as the former did hymns to the gods and the praises of famous men."