Reel Redemption (2020) A Review

A Documentary looking at the sometimes contentious relationship between the Christian church and Hollywood.  Not sounding like your thing?  It is a lot more engaging than you would think.

Certificate: U

Director: Tyler Smith

Screenwriter: Tyler Smith

Starring: Tyler Smith, Brad Jones, Kevin McCreary

Genre: Documentary

Runtime: 87 Minutes

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

A Copy of this film was supplied to me by the creators in return for a Review.

Director Tyler Smith takes a look at the history of the Christian Church’s relationship with Hollywood films at of the rise of Christian cinema in the modern time.  We are all mostly aware of the big scandals around films like ‘Passion of the Christ’ and ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’ but this documentary goes further then that, attempting to address why Christian cinema has arisen and perhaps why is can’t seem to gain a foothold with modern audiences.

I will start this review by stating that I am aware that this is quite a niche market.  If you aren’t interested in the history or film or film production, or at all interested in Christian films, then there will be little in the above description that would initially draw your attention to this documentary.  But I urge you to give it a shot.

I am not Christian myself, I have no religious connotations at all In fact, but I recognise that faith is a very important part of millions of people’s lives, and that they should be free to express that faith.  So I was mostly interested in this documentary for it’s exploration of film history.  And in that regard, I found this film fascinating, but I also found out a lot about his Christian faith has impacted Hollywood over the years and about a whole genre of film that, to be honest, I didn’t really know existed.

The best thing about his documentary is it honesty.  It isn’t heavily campaigning for the damnation of mainstream Hollywood, nor does it call for an end to the Christian film genre.  Instead it actively critiques their effects on each other.  It suggests that the rise of Christian film can be related to Hollywood’s penchant in more modern times to make Christians and Christianity less of a force for good in it’s films, but more an institution of Hypocrisy and corruption.  Therefore Christians craved a more realistic representation of their faith on screen.  However it is also very open about the fact that a lot of Christian films have been…not very good, being either major critical or box-office failures.  This films isn’t looking to make a statement or start an argument, rather just to educate and stimulate discussion, as all documentaries should.

It definitely won’t be for everyone, and will be contentious for some.  But if you go in with an open mind and a desire to learn something, then there is plenty to be enjoyed here, whether you are active in the Christian community or not.

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