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Movies Are Prayers: How Films Voice Our Deepest Longings

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  333 ratings  ·  82 reviews
"Movies are our way of telling God what we think about this world and our place in it. . . . Movies can be many things: escapist experiences, historical artifacts, business ventures, and artistic expressions, to name a few. I'd like to suggest that they can also be prayers." Movies do more than tell a good story. They are expressions of raw emotion, naked vulnerability, an ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published June 13th 2017 by IVP Books
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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Brian Eshleman
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From other exposure to similar attempts, I expected slipshod exposition to put the Word into the service of an author's favorite cultural expressions. Not so. The Bible narrative is primary and pulsates through this text. The examples from that point to it well are secondary and well chosen. I suspect you will understand and appreciate the Gospel more from reading this book. I also suspect you may look twice at the narrative beneath pop-culture the next time you encounter it.
Jonathan Anderson
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you know Josh Larsen, the biggest surprise of this book is that he only made Wes Anderson films the centerpieces of two chapters.

A book that taught me some things about prayer AND film. I wish all of my fellow Christians put this much thought into film, we'd get a few less Fireproofs and a few more films worth thinking about.
Andy
Feb 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm a frequent listener of the always-interesting Filmspotting podcast, but wasn't sure what to expect from Larsen's book on faith and film. As a Christian, I'm always looking for writers/directors/producers who seem to be asking what I call "good questions" about the world and our place in it, regardless of their faith (or lack of it). I'd never really considered the "movies are prayers" concept, but Larsen makes a strong case for it. More than anything else, he makes you think.
Beau Stucki
Apr 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Written by a celebrated critic in the niche world of podcasts about movies, Larson's book is less a examination of the language of cinema as it is an examination of cinema as a language - a language we use to express the desires of our hearts. For Larsen each film is the prayer of its creator (whether intended or no) and he posits that, with a dose of sedulous meditation and reverence, we viewers can be participants in the prayerful act and commune with what is divine, both in and outside oursel ...more
Leah
Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I would give this 3.5 stars, but I rounded up because there were some really magnificent analogies present.

I didn’t really know what I was getting into when my aunt let me borrow this book, especially considering that I’m not even half the movie oficiando that she is, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that Josh Larsen really highlights art, creativity, and they collide with faith and spirituality in film.

Whether or not any of his examples or specific thoughts were lost on me, I still enjoy
...more
Paul
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best and most thoughtful books on the intersection of films and faith that I've read. Considering movies as prayers is a unique and, it turns out, hugely meaningful approach.
Martin Baggs
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
I picked this up as a dear friend told me about it and it intrigued me. I love movies and have connected them with my faith for over a decade. I have seen them as ways we can experience transcendance as we engage with movies, learning something about ourselves, life, and God, and sometimes even experiencing God Himself. I had not necessarily thought of them as prayers.

Josh Larsen, cohost of the podcast Filmspotting, says “that movies, at their most potent, are not diversions or products or even
...more
Adam Graff
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Movies are about life. As God's creation, all aspects of life are some kind of communication with him. So it makes sense that movies are prayers. It would also make sense that really anything is conversation with God whether we recognize it or not. This book is showing specifically how films can be that line of communication with God. So if you're interested in being more aware of God and like to watch a lot of movies, this film can help you fuse those two concepts together. I think this is impo ...more
Matt
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading Josh Larsen's recent review of Labyrinth, in which he not only explains the film's coherence but goes further to convincingly argue that David Bowie's infamous codpiece was the key to interpreting the film, I decided it was time to finally pick up Movies Are Prayers.

And I liked it. Larson knows his films, covering not only obvious faith/cinema conversation points — The Seventh Seal, The Tree of Life, Babette's Feast, It's a Wonderful Life, the work of Andrei Tarkovsky — but spends
...more
Gavin Breeden
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A book that takes movies and Christian faith very seriously, so pretty much perfect for me. I love how Larsen -- co-host of the wonderful movie podcast Filmspotting -- considers the various types of movies as prayers according to the Bible's redemptive timeline: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration. A number of my favorite movies were mentioned and I added a ton to my "to watch" list. My favorite part of the book was the final chapter in which Larsen showed how one of his favorite movies, ...more
Freddy
Despite its title, I didn’t expect this book to be a study of film through the lens of Christian theology. It became apparent in the first chapter, but my Puritanical need to finish pushed me to persevere. Larsen offers some interesting bits of film criticism, especially in terms of thematic considerations, but the doctrinaire rumination and application overwhelms the experience— I’m not sure the slog was worth it. I did note a few films I’d like to now watch though.
Natalie Bassie
Jun 18, 2019 rated it liked it
I enjoyed how Larsen describes movies as ones of yearning, lament, confession, etc.! If anything, it was a reminder that art in all forms (this being film) usually reveals our true hearts and desires. Can you guess what kind of prayer Into the Wild is?
Reija
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, movie, 2017, audio
As Filmspotting fan I was expecting excellant movie conversations but this was filled with way too much of religion talk. I wish Josh would have read audio book, at least.
Jo Ann
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
This book was very readable and helpful to think about how prayer/meditation can be incorporated into film watching. I especially enjoyed the first few chapters.
Porter Sprigg
Jun 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Completely up my alley. God uses films to speak to us and we can speak to him through film.
Barry
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was very insightful, and should help me better appreciate many types of movies — including some of the ones I don’t really like.
Chad
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arts, film, faith
"Movies offer these sorts of unconscious prayerful gestures, only much louder and on a giant screen. If it helps, imagine stained-glass windows along the walls of a theater. It’s no coincidence, after all, that the spaces have similar architecture. The knee-jerk comparison to make is a pejorative one: that both places are designed for worship, the implication being that good people go to church to worship God and bad people go to the movies to worship everything else. There is some truth to this ...more
Bob Morton
Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Standard disclaimer. I got an advanced copy of the book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank them and IVP books for the ability to be able to read it in advance.

I wanted to read this book because I think of myself as a bit of a movie person. Another reason was that my church (life.church) does a series each July called At The Movies where our Pastor takes clips from movies and builds a sermon about them. I expected a kind of insight that Pastor Craig Groeschel g
...more
Laura
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Review Pending. I'm working on a longer review for another site.
Kyle
May 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
As a heathen, I can assure you that Larsen's book is for Christians and non-Christians alike! And after about 3000 ratings and about 1900 reviews on https://letterboxd.com/kylegarvey/ I can assure you that movies are something. Maybe not prayers per se, and maybe I'd put "Films" in the main title instead of "Movies" and change the subtitle entirely (I'm a stickler for semantics and lately resent "movies" cheapening the form and whatnot), but they're something. The book troubled me a little, but ...more
Dave Courtney
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I had been anticipating this book for a while, and thanks to the graciousness of my family (whom tracked it down on Father's Day) I finally got my hands on a copy.

As a concept, the whole idea of "movies as prayers" could certainly appear a bit gimmicky. Written from the perspective of one who truly appreciates film for what it is- story, art, dialogue, expression, it most assuredly is not that. Josh Larsen, a film critic for Filmspotting and a writer/editor for Think Christian, remains intuitiv
...more
Hazel
Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
This eBook was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Subtitled How Films Voice Our Deepest Longings, film critic and committed Christian, Josh Larsen, writes Movies Are Prayers to explain his perspective that films are one of our ways of communicating with God. Films, or movies as they are oftentimes referred to in this book, can be many things from a form of escapism to historical information and artistic expression, but as Larsen maintains, they can also be p
...more
Greg Talbot
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Filmspotting is one the highlights of my week, giving an extra punch to my fridays, with it's thoughtful and engaging look at cinema. No small part of this is due to Josh Larsen, who is very much the opposite of everything i'm hardwired to find in a critic. He is neither opinionated, bulbous, braggadocious, and knows how to disagree as a gentleman.

So it's no surprise to me that his personal project "Movies are Prayers" was as welcomed as poolside iced idea on a bold summer day. Josh's easy-going
...more
Dan
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I believe that many movies (those made for an American viewing audience, anyway) try to say something about who God is. While I think much of this is unintentional (it seems more likely to be a byproduct of moviemakers who grow up steeped in a largely Judeo-Christian culture), it has nonetheless influenced my movie-viewing choices.

In his now 1-year-old book, "Movies are Prayers," Josh Larsen articulates the idea much more concretely and intricately. His argument is basically that the films can
...more
Glen Grunau
Aug 13, 2017 rated it liked it
There was a lot I liked about this book.

The very idea that movies can be prayers resonated strongly with me. As my appreciation for and time devoted to watching movies has increased in recent years, my attunememt to truth, beauty, love, joy, grief, redemption, tragedy, and transformation in movies - all that good and sincere prayers are made of - has also grown.

I have for some time appreciated the similarity drawn between a movie theatre and a church sanctuary for how both facilitate such praye
...more
Matt Mitchell
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Like many Christians, Josh Larsen seeks to find God within the culture. As a professional film critic with a deep love of motion pictures, this naturally leads him to the cinemas. Thus arises his fundamental question for this book: Movies Are Prayers?

Larsen's clearly believes the answer to this question to be a certain affirmative. He demonstrates this by walking through various examples of how films can both act as prayer for the viewer and exhibit the (often implied) prayers of the characters
...more
Kate
Oct 20, 2017 rated it liked it
I wish I had liked this more. The author, Josh Larsen, is a cohost on my favorite podcast, Filmspotting, so when he wrote a book, I figured I should support the show by buying and reading it. Even though I pretty much consider myself agnostic/atheist, I was curious to see how he'd interpret various films as different types of Christian prayer.

Unfortunately, although I have seen about 80% of the movies he describes in the book, I was not drawn in. Perhaps this is because a decent section of each
...more
Noah
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Noah by: Dustin Johnston (dragonarmybooks)
Shelves: favorites
Before I gush about this book, I just want everyone to know I'm a big fan of both Josh Larson and the podcast Filmspotting.

Movies can weep, cry out, and even ooze with joy. Larson has helped change my view on pop culture and how a Christ-follower views film. Movies Are Prayers, being just another example on how God’s creation speaks, unpacks how art groans for something or to someone. From first glance this might look more movie than prayer, but Larson offers some keen theology to back up his c
...more
Joel
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was very excited to be selected to receive an advance copy of Movies Are Prayers.

Part film analysis, part Christian apologetics, Josh Larsen's book invites readers to consider films as expressions of human yearning: for lamentation, for confession and communion, for joy. Larsen (co-host of one of my favorite podcasts, Filmspotting) explores both the purpose for and meaning behind Christian ideas of prayer and the ways in which film can fit into that framework. For Larsen, it's not about filmm
...more
Ken Jones
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A great read that challenged me as a Christian and as a frequent moviegoer. I've long enjoyed and appreciated Josh's perspective on movies as one of the co-hosts of the podcast Filmspotting and his reviews on Larsenonfilm.com. His love of movies has always been evident, but the depth of his beliefs as a Christian are also self-evident in a refreshing, conversational way as opposed to the confrontational manner that far too many Christians adopt these days.

I knew his book would challenge how I lo
...more
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