“Worldviews in the Movies,
with Specific Attention to the Movie Titanic

WorldviewEyes Youth Program

Lincoln Christian Seminary - www.worldvieweyes.org 

A Handout for CIY Conference 2003



I.                 Some Questions for a Christian to Ask When Watching Video Media

A.      Is there a prominent worldview presented? (e.g. Biblical Christianity, Deism, Secular Humanism, Nihilism, Postmodernism, Existentialism, New Age or Pantheism) 

B.       What does it (or its main characters) say about ultimate (“worldview”) questions? 

1.               GUM TED

2.               God, Universe, Man, Truth, Ethics, Death

C.     Does it promote thoughts or behavior that are inconsistent with the Bible?  (Matthew 5:27-30)

D.     Does it improve or worsen my attitude?

E.       Does it cause me to violate my conscience or somehow hurt others?  (1 Corinthians 8; Romans 14)

F.        Is it a productive use of my time?  (Ephesians 5:15-16)

G.     Am I watching it with “the right crowd”?  (I Corinthians 15:53)

H.     Am I being deceived into thinking that it’s O.K. for me to watch it?  (Jeremiah 17:9; I Tim. 4:2)

II.              Specific Things to “Look For” When Watching Movies (see Brian Godawa, Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films with Wisdom and Discernment, InterVarsity Press, 2002; and www.Godawa.com)

A.      Look for the Protagonist and the Antagonist (hero and villain).

B.       Look for the hero’s weakness/fault/need.

C.     Look for the hero’s self-revelation:  “The point near the end of the movie where the hero has his speech about what he learned or how he changed his mind is the redemption of the story.  This is how the storytellers think we should or should not live in the world” (Godawa).

D.     Look for the opponent’s rationale (why does he do what he does?)

E.       Look for the factors that make the characters change their minds and why (e.g. is it a near death experience? a taste of their own medicine? etc.).

F.        Look for the four “W”s: Who Wins? Who Loses? Who Dies? And Why?

G.     Look for consequences to behavior (e.g. does it end positively; is the behavior considered legitimate?)

H.     Look for repeating phrases.

I.          Look at how it ends.

III.           Nine Basic Elements in Most Stories (with a focus on The Truman Show).  See Brian Godawa’s Hollywood Worldviews, chapter 2)

A.      Theme (what the story is all about; the moral or purpose)

1.               Dead Poets Society: “Conformity kills the spirit, but individuality frees it.” (p 44)

2.               The Truman Show: “God’s sovereign control of our lives leads to slavery; human autonomy leads to freedom” (p 45).

B.       Hero (Truman in The Truman Show)

C.     The Hero’s Goal (Truman’s goal is to leave his small home town and to find a girl he fell in love with earlier in his life.)

D.     The Adversary (could be a person, nature, or chance)

E.       Character Flaw (something blocking what the character wants) (In The Truman Show, Truman’s naivete is his flaw)

F.        Apparent Defeat (Truman has to face a sea storm)

G.     Final Confrontation (between the hero and his adversary)

H.     Self-Revelation (where the hero learns what he wanted was not what he needed)

I.          Resolution (the results of the hero’s change or lack of change)

J.          Redemption (how does the hero and others overcome their flaws and apparent defeats by the Antagonist?)

IV.          A Suggested Model for How to Watch a Movie with “Worldview Eyes”—Titanic

A.      The “vision” of the Titanic and the worldview of “Modernism.”

B.       Rose’s early tensions with Modernism.

C.     Rose’s sense of despair:  Modernism isn’t working.

D.     Jack’s Existentialism.

E.       Rose’s attraction and conversion to Existentialism.

F.        Jack and Rose:  Religion is shunned; personal “salvation” is pursued.

V.             A Summary of Relevant Worldviews in the Movie Titanic

A.      Secular Humanism (Optimistic Atheism or Modernism)

1.               God does not exist.

2.               Very optimistic (“Waterboy” philosophy: “YOU can DO it!”)

3.               Humans became “king” by chance evolution.

4.               Truth & progress are brought by science and technology.

5.               Emphasizes human reason (not feeling).  (“Let’s use our heads!”)

6.               Basic theme:  We can do it if we put our minds to it!”

B.       Nihilism (Pessimistic Atheism)

1.               God does not exist.

2.               Nothing has real value, meaning, or truth.

3.               Very pessimistic (despair; no hope).

4.               Life is absurd:  “I don’t care” or “I give up” (suicide).

5.               Often confuses reality and illusion.

6.               Preoccupation with death and fatalism (“you can’t change anything”).

7.               Notable examples/advocates:  Curt Cobain

8.               Basic theme:  Life is a black hole.  Nothing matters.”

C.     Atheistic Existentialism

1.               Tries to escape the pessimism of Nihilism.

2.               “While life is absurd, I will ‘revolt’ by choosing to be ‘free.’”

3.               Emphasizes personal freedom and choice.

4.               Wants to be free of rules and obligations created by others—very spontaneous.

5.               Emphasizes feeling (not reason).  Choices are based on feelings.

6.               Emphasizes the present—today (not the past or the future).

7.               Emphasizes chance in life.

8.               Death creates great anxiety, but death should be faced boldly.

9.               Basic theme:  Life is meaningless, but don’t give up. Be free and have fun.”

VI.           Resources



NOTE: The WorldviewEyes Youth Program hosts four grant-funded week-long summer youth seminars for a select group of Christian teens.  These “accelerated” seminars are held in Colorado (“Creation & Psychology,” July 27-Aug. 2); Chicago (“Worldviews and Urban Ministry,” July 13-19); Lincoln, Illinois (“Worldviews & Contemporary Culture,” Aug. 3–9); and New Hampshire (“Church Planting,” June 8-14).  Applications are required.  While the budgeted expenses per student are about $900, the cost to attend is ONLY $75!  Some scholarships are even available.  Please seriously consider applying.  Openings may still be available for the summer 2003 seminars.  (The seminars will be offered again in 2004.)


An Internet class on “A Christian Perspective on Worldviews” is also available for college credit or for a non-credit achievement certificate. 


WorldviewEyes is also completing a curriculum for high school youth groups, campus ministries, and home-schools on “Worldview Inoculation: A Christian Approach to Alternative Worldviews”—a thirteen-lesson series on Christian faith and competing worldviews. 


Visit www.worldvieweyes.org for more information.