Top 10 Movies that Parallel a Religious Faith Crisis

Some of the most powerful and healing experiences I have had during and after my religious faith crisis have been at the movie theater.  In short, there are several movies that (for me) parallel(ed) my process of losing my faith in orthodox Mormonism.  Here is a list of my top 10 favorite movies that for me, serve as powerful metaphors for experiencing a religious faith crisis:

  1. Tangled: IMDB Description – “The magically long-haired Rapunzel has spent her entire life in a tower, but now that a runaway thief has stumbled upon her, she is about to discover the world for the first time, and who she really is.” Personal highlight: The song “I see the light.”  Lyrics include: “All those days watching from the window.  All those years outside looking in.  All that time, never really knowing just how blind I’d been.”
  2. The Village: IMDB Description: “A series of events tests the beliefs of a small isolated countryside village.”  Person observation: There is a special place in hell for anyone who gives away the ending to this movie. BONUS!  I just found a completely free version of this movie on Youtube.  Enjoy it now!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCTh3opBJPA
  3. The Matrix. IMDB Description: “A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.” Most iconic scene: Red pill or blue pill?
  4. The Truman ShowIMDB Description: “An insurance salesman/adjuster discovers his entire life is actually a television show.” Observation: Final scene is epic.
  5. Pleasantville. IMDB Description: “Two 1990s teenage siblings find themselves in a 1950s sitcom where their influence begins to profoundly change that complacent world.” Observation: Black and white => color is such a powerful metaphor.  Biggest heartbreaker: The line, “Does it look ok?”
  6. The Invention of Lying. IMDB Description: “A comedy set in a world where no one has ever lied, until a writer seizes the opportunity for personal gain.” This Clip: …will tear your heart out.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXYvwEeWrm8
  7. Wicked (The Musical). Description: The “back story” of the Wizard of Oz.  It’s more complicated than you first thought.  Favorite line: “Oz: I guess I wanted to give the citizens of Oz everything.  Elphaba: So you lied to them. Oz: Elphaba – Where I’m from, we believe all sorts of things that aren’t true.  We call it history.  A man’s called a traitor.  Or liberator.  A rich man’s a thief, or philanthropist.  Is one a crusader, or ruthless invader?  It’s all in what label is able to persist.  There are precious few at ease with moral ambiguities, so we act as though they don’t exist!”
  8. The Big Short. IMDB Description: “Four denizens in the world of high-finance predict the credit and housing bubble collapse of the mid-2000s, and decide to take on the big banks for their greed and lack of foresight.”   Favorite quotes: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so. – Mark Twain”  and “Truth is like poetry. And most people fucking hate poetry.”
  9. Adam/Eve and the Mormon Temple CeremonyExplanation: Ironically, the Adam and Eve story in the Mormon temple ceremony is the perfect faith crisis metaphor.  Think about it.  Adam and Eve wander around the garden of eden, protected in an artificial state, but not fully aware.  Then they partake of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and their eyes are opened.  Then they are cast out of the safety and simplicity of the garden, and are forced to deal with “thorns, thistles, and noxious weeds.”  Such a perfect metaphor.
  10. Your nomination goes here…..what movies parallel your religious faith crisis?  Please share below!

Honorable Mention: How to Train a Dragon, It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, Frozen, Fiddler on the Roof, Moana, Wizard of Oz, Dead Poet’s Society, Monty Python’s Life of Brian

Other Suggestions: Trolls, Frailty, Elf, Moonstruck, The Croods, The Adjustment Bureau, The Giver, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Room, Bourne Legacy, Equilibrium, Water, The Shawshank Redemption, Mad Max Fury Road, The Exorcist, The Remains of the Day, Fight Club, The Island, Big Fish

Comments 18

  1. Oblivion (2013)

    “In the year 2077, Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) works as a security repairman on an Earth left empty and devastated after a war with aliens. Jack has two weeks left before his mission ends and he joins his fellow survivors on a faraway colony. However, Jack’s concept of reality comes crashing down after he rescues a beautiful stranger (Olga Kurylenko) from a downed spacecraft. The woman’s arrival triggers a chain of events that culminates in Jack’s nearly single-handed battle to save mankind.”

  2. I would have gone with Toy Story instead of Tangled from for a Disney/Pixar animated movie. Buzz lightyear is the perfect RM. I mean come on, the scene where Woody tries to tell Buzz the truth that he is a toy at the gas station is so perfect.

    Otherwise #10 would be spotlight for me. Taking a sincere investigation into a church as an institution where they are legit hurting people and covering it up was too real for me and part of me starting to be pissed at TSCC while I was still mentally out.

  3. The whole Madagascar series, particularly leaving the zoo for the wild and the tiger’s reconstruction of his meaning in the third one.

  4. Moana was a big one for me. It came out around the time of my crisis. Listening to the chief’s song about “no one leaves” and you “must find happiness right where you are” and “Who needs a new song, the old ones all we need” then contrasting them with Moana’s song of “what is wrong with me” and “everyone seems happy on this island” “[maybe] I’ll be happy if I play along” and “whats beyond that line, will I cross that line”. These songs spoke exactly how I was feeling at the time.

  5. Babette’s Feast is a foreign film from the 80s that a lot of people may not be familiar with, but should be! It’s beautiful on so many levels, but even when I saw it waaay back in my TBM days I wondered and was troubled by the contrast between the bleak barrenness of the strict little religious community and how Babette preparing a feast of delectable foods and exquisite wines was truly a ministry that nourished both their bodies and their souls.

  6. I haven’t seen Wicked or The Big Short. You’ve convinced me to. Dunno if “parallel” is the right term, but Kumare was an expose that profoundly changed my life in 90 minutes. For those who haven’t seen it, it’s a documentary of a cult that the founder started just so he could film it from start to finish. It rocked my world when it showed people experiencing and describing what I’d come to know as feelings of the Spirit. Watching that, I realized that in regards to discerning truth, my doubts–born out of reason–were more credible than the spiritual experiences I’d had.

  7. Lost River (2014) “A single mother is swept into a dark underworld, while her teenage son discovers a road that leads him to a secret underwater town.” Written and directed by Ryan Gosling, even features an homage scene to the old Sacred Grove film. Might actually be about an LDS faith crisis.

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