Last night my wife and I watched “Munich,” the movie about assassins sent to kill the Palestinian kidnappers/murderers of 11 members of the 1972 Israeli Olympic team. It was appropriately rated “R” as it had all the biggies: “strong graphic violence, some sexual content, nudity and language.” In terms of images on the screen, it was certainly one of the “worst” movies we’d seen in a long time. Yet, for all its graphic depictions, this movie didn’t leave me with that “slimed” feeling I sometimes get. Why was that?
While the ratings people focus superficially on images or on language, there is a deeper way of analyzing a movie for its affect on our spiritual health. Let’s be real, if the Bible were a movie, it would be rated “R,” if not worse in some parts (although it must be acknowledged as part of God’s wisdom that the Bible isn’t a movie). The goal of the Christian life is not to navigate the world without seeing, hearing or thinking about the dark stuff woven into the fabric of it. “Munich” left me saddened but not slimed because the graphic images were depicted with the proper moral value placed on them. For example, the violent scenes end with the hero/perpetrator huddling in a closet, paranoid, sleepless, haunted and feeling like all his acts of vengeance have produced little or no positive result. This realistic depiction of the nature of vengeance and killing is a far cry from other movies where the killing is meant to feel glorious as the music pumps and the repercussions of such acts are nil. Yet the rating is the same, “R” (or even PG-13).
So I propose an additional ratings system. It has two rankings: promotes biblical worldview or rejects biblical worldview (PBW or RBW). One still has to use the normal MPAA ranking, anticipate and avoid scenes that could be a stumbling block and even walk away from some movies. But let’s also ask a question that cuts differently across the grain: “does it honor what God calls good or does it relish evil?” Or to put it simply, “does it portray good as good and does it portray evil as evil? This question can and should be applied to every movie, from G to R.