Monday Night Lived Mormonism Poll: R-rated Movie Spirituality Edition

If yes, can you provide specific examples? If no, what specifically leads you to believe that this is the case?

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  1. Vote, people! This is more fun that Family Home Evening and you know it!

  2. The ratings system is so arbitrary. They have a few specific hallmarks that get a movie a particular rating- it has very little meaning to me. For example:

    This week, for the free summer matinee at our local theater, I can take my kids to see _Monsters v. Aliens_ or _Paul Blart, Mall Cop_. They are both rated PG. Meaningless.

    Also, I am far, far more uncomfortable (and offended) with the insane violence a movie can have and still get a PG, but a slip of skin gets it an R.

  3. six votes, no instances. Perhaps you folks are fooling yourselves…

  4. I suspect the BOM would be R rated if it were a movie.

  5. Eric,
    A beheading is essentially an dismemberment and the dismemberment in Monty Python and the Holy Grail didn’t earn that movie an R-rating. I think the Book of Mormon is safe.

  6. R-ratings are up to twelve votes, but no-one can provide a specific instance. Hmmmmmm

  7. Glory and The Passion.

  8. I guess I’m stuck trying to think of ANY movie where I’ve felt what I would willingly call The Spirit- regardless of ratings.

  9. Schindler’s List.

  10. I feel the Spirit nearly every time I watch “Saving Private Ryan.” The response of the older Ryan at the end to the sacrifice others made to save him is very touching. The fight scene between the Jewish guy (can’t remember his name) and the German while Upham watches is very emotional and real.

    I felt the Spirit in small moments during “The Book of Eli.”

    So, I have to conclude it is possible to feel the Spirit during SOME R-rated movies.

  11. I saw Amelie for the first time last week and I think that it I definitely felt like doing more for my fellow persons after that movie. You could call that “feeling the Spirit” if you’d like.

  12. My problem is Tracy’s. I can’t think of a single time where I have had a spiritual experience because of the film I was watching. I have had them despite watching a movie, but not because of it.

  13. Since giving up the strict NO R rated movies I have discovered much more spirit, thought, and depth to R rated movies than any pg or pg 13 movies I have seen. I do not like blood, guts, gore or snotty disrespectful stuff. I do not mind bad language when used appropriately and effectively, I love skin so not a problem. I love humor in relation to human nature and find that most spiritual.

  14. I definitely felt the spirit when I watched The Fall (the Tarsem Singh film)–it had a very profound message that resonated with my understanding of the gospel. In disagreement with T. Greer, I feel that watching good movies often sparks those little flashes of insight that I understand to be learning by the spirit.

  15. I believe a person could potentially feel the Spirit anytime, anywhere.

    I usually don’t watch R-rated movies though, and the few times I did, I can’t say I felt the Spirit. Emotional, yes. Believe it or not, I found “About Schmidt” to be extremely insightful and life-changing. But the Spirit? No. I don’t feel the Spirit that often. When I do, it’s a big deal, but it’s not an every day thing for me.

  16. Schindler’s List
    Shawshank Redemption

    I watch very few R-rated movies, but I agree with Dave’s “little flashes of insight” wording – and I’ve had some of those in movies of various ratings.

  17. yes, if you watch an r-rated movie in like Canada or Mexico, or Europe, or Asia… :)

  18. Another vote for Saving Private Ryan.

    Adding to the complexity of the question, how about the R-rated movie on network tv, standard cable or on an airplane. I have seen plenty of really sub-par R-rated cinematic efforts in this fashion, considering them PG-13 movies. Does a little editing change the spirit of the movie?

  19. When I was a teenager I watched Dead Man Walking and completely bawled at the end. I am not sure if it was because of the emotion of the film, or if I truly felt The Spirit — but I do know after that experience I started to see the world as a place full of flawed mortals and that we all needed redemption.

  20. Some R-rated movies that I have seen recently and felt the spirit off the top of my head:

    A Serious Man
    The Road (the it was better with the book)
    The Wrestler
    The Pacific (though not a movie, it would have earned an R Rating)
    Letters from Iwo Jima
    Slumdog Millionaire
    Motorcycle Diaries
    John Adams (also not a movie, but it would have earned an R)
    V for Vendetta
    In the Name of the Father
    Little Miss Sunshine

  21. After reading what others have said, let me add The Fall and Dead Man Walking

    And let me also say that I hated “Book of Eli” and felt that I had been tricked into watching really bad Christian propaganda. Seriously? Nobody can find a copy of the most published book in the world?

  22. The only response I’m waiting to read is Kevin Barney’s, given the volume of movies he watches…

  23. The example that always comes to my mind is The Killing Fields. I should make a list–but I don’t often easily remember a movie’s rating.

  24. I feel good, positive, life-affirming feelings in all sorts of R-Rated movies. Are these feelings of “the Spirit” in the way we Mormons typically use that word? I dunno. Maybe. Maybe not. One of the strongest waves of Christ-like charity and sympathy that’s ever overcome me occurred during my first viewing of the Oscar-winning Charlize Theron film, Monster. And trust me folks, Monster contains just about every type of LDS-prohibited content imaginable. So go figure that out.

    “If no, what specifically leads you to believe that this is the case?”

    This question isn’t addressed to me, but I’ll answer it anyway. “Feeling the Spirit,” for many LDS members, is a code-phrase meaning “Being in rigid compliance with LDS doctrinal tenets as I understand them.” For those of us who don’t code accordingly, the belief is somewhat hard to fathom.

  25. Shawshank redemption gave me an incredible case of the shivers.

  26. Larry the Cable Guy says:

    Don’t we as a church have the occasional problem of confusing the spirit with just being a little emo?

    I think the punch that comes from cinematography vs. the spoken word over a pulpit could magnify that tug even more.

  27. Last of the Mohicans. But that may be due to that killer violin part toward the tragic ending…

  28. This is a stupid question.

  29. Right Larry, the principles and truths evinced by cinema must be meaningless because, hey, its cinema. I’m not buying it.

  30. This string of comments (a bunch were posted that I didn’t see before posting myself, because I’d let this sit while I did a couple chores, and then came back to it–and probably more are being posted as I write this) has made me wonder what people mean by “feel the spirit”. If a movie enlightens me on any subject, or resonates with a truth that I know, I’ve felt the spirit. In fact, if I’m watching a movie (no matter its rating) and realize that it is untruthful, degrading, etc., it’s the spirit that let’s me know that. Some movies may show me a little truth but overall be degrading, and the little bit of truth doesn’t justify watching it.
    Dead Man Walking, yes I agree, I “felt the spirit” from watching that one.

  31. Salt, definitely. (j/k – just a plug to go see it.)

  32. Freddy Got Fingered.

    Just kidding. Never saw it.

    The Passion of the Christ.

    I’m surprised it hasn’t already been mentioned.

  33. courtney says:

    Slumdog Millionaire, A Serious Man, Children of Men

  34. I admit that the only R-rated film I have seen in its entirety was “The Harder They Fall”, which I saw during a college class and I didn’t know it was rated R.

    However, I have seen many films on television that were given an R rating in the theatre, but had been edited to be suitable for general viewing audiences. This isn’t because of my own strict no R policy as much as it is my wife’s. (After spending a semester in Australia and quickly discovering that the movie rating system is considerably different, I found myself having to change my policy).

    Anyway, there are many movies I can think of that have had spiritually-enlightening moments. When I speak of “feeling the Spriit”, I speak of that moment of enlightenment that comes from outside sources. Maybe I take Moroni 7 a bit too far, although I hope not.

    An example I can think of that has not yet been mentioned is The Breakfast Club. The ending is, for me, an incredibly enlightening moment:

  35. how could anyone feel the spirit in Passion of the Christ? That’s like torture porn. It’s sickening. It glorifies the violence done to the Savior, not emphasizes the actual atonement, which according to our theology, occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane, not in the Roman torture pits where prisoners are whipped to death.

  36. John C: This is such an easy question to answer (i.e., YES) that I’m supposing you’re implying or wanting to prove something. Explain what that is, please.

  37. “Don’t we as a church have the occasional problem of confusing the spirit with just being a little emo?”

    Ha! ha! That’s the truth.

    “This is such an easy question to answer (i.e., YES)”

    Hmmmm… I don’t agree with this. Except in rare situations, it’s best to be obedient to God – to submit our wills to God – etc., etc. I know that makes me sound non-PC and super closed-minded. But I can’t think that 85% of people can feel the warm influence of the Holy Ghost while watching a movie with rated R content. 85% is NOT representing a rare exception.

    “I’m supposing you’re implying or wanting to prove something. Explain what that is, please.”

    Those who answered “yes” are probably trying to prove that people who watch rated R movies are much more sensitive to the Spirit – they can feel it even during war scenes, or depictions of violence, or in the middle of profanity, or whatever gave the movie its R rating. Those of us who err on the side of obedience to the letter (ha! ha!) of the law have lower-level spirituality that cannot maturely handle adult content.

    Actually, why am I even engaging in this debate? Susan had it right:

    “This is a stupid question.”

  38. (Nothing personal, John C. Obviously it’s a very INTERESTING question!)

  39. symphonyofdissent says:

    Schindler’s list is one of the most powerful films out there. I wrote a blog post a few months back about a scene in that film helped me decide to serve a mission.

    To add a few more profound R rated films

    Rachel Getting Married
    Little Miss Sunshine

    Those are the first few that come to mind but I might come back and add some more.

  40. I felt the spirit during The Big Lebowski.

  41. Born into Brothels, Mississippi Burning, A Time to Kill and I’m sure more.

    I’m not sure what you mean by feeling the spirit. Do you mean it’s supposed to be some kind of warm and fuzzy feeling in the middle of the movie? An emotional reaction? For me the spirit mostly seems to come in thoughts and impressions and enlightenment.

    I chose these movies specifically because I feel like they expounded my understanding to unjustice–help me see a problem better and understand God’s love for his children more. Could I understand and see unjustice without the spirit there? Probably. But it seems at the moment of watching these films I understood something with a greater depth that couldn’t have come from merely the music and the telling of the story, something coming from something greater than the movie–an understanding that maybe the movie wasn’t even about.

    I first saw Mississippi Burning when I was 17–and really felt like I was being taught. I expected to kind of have a similar experience years later when I was watching it–but was only shocked by how violent it was and experienced nothing special during the movie the second time. I wondered why I even liked it.

  42. Fearless, and to a lesser extent, The Fisher King. Maybe it’s just Jeff Bridges.
    Watching Fearless just before flying with my son for the first time was profoundly disturbing, but it led to one of the most significant spiritual revelations I’ve ever had.

  43. #35 “how could anyone feel the spirit in Passion of the Christ? That’s like torture porn. It’s sickening. It glorifies the violence done to the Savior, not emphasizes the actual atonement, which according to our theology, occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane, not in the Roman torture pits where prisoners are whipped to death.”

    Yeah, cuz torturing Jesus in Gethsemane, which was supposed to be more painful than any physical suffering, is sooo much better.

    While I disagree with the theology presented in the Passion (and Mormonism’s switch to Gethsemane is not all that different), I saw (or chose to see) the movie as symbolic of the pain inflicted on Jesus for fighting against Rome and the oppressors of the world. As the liberation theologians would say, the value of the passion is that it points to life which led to the death. Instead of asking the question, why did Jesus die, we to ask: why did they kill him? It is for this same reason that William Wallace death at the end of Braveheart (another movie where I felt the spirit) is so powerful.

    The Passion is only week because (like most LDS theology) it pretends that the death of Christ is somehow separable from the life that led to it.

  44. My choices:
    The recognition scene in Firelight.
    The reunion scene in “Ne le dis a personne”. In some of these French movies (I’ll count A Good Year here even though it is not R), the good marriage is a continuation of childhood romance. The couple seems to have always been together. There is this sense of having always been together.

  45. If my experience is worth anything, movies that romanticize violence — particularly vengeful violence — are the antithesis of spirit inviting (thinking here of The Patriot, Braveheart, [insert randomly selected Mel-Gibson-Angry-Guy film], etc… no offense, tn). I think that to the extent that a film expands understanding of the human condition, increases compassion and empathy (particularly toward people who are different from us), or deconstructs our cultural mythologies about redemptive, viscerally-satisfying violence and/or romanticized, consequence-free casual sex, it can be a spiritually uplifting experience and can convey truths to which the Spirit could reasonably have an interest in testifying, even if accompanied by naughty words or naked bodies (examples would include Children of Men, The Wire, Pan’s Labyrinth, The Lives of Others, The Reader).

  46. MikeInWeHo says:

    Why twist yourselves into knots over PG-13 vs. R when the whole movie-rating system is a useless, arbitrary, politically- motivated mess. Avoiding R rated movies is the equivalent of eating SnackWells to stay slim: not so useful.

    Personally, I long the days when Lucy and Ricky were married yet slept in separate beds.

  47. Oh, and since I forgot to mention it above, absolutely, ABSOLUTELY, Hot Fuzz.

  48. And on a slightly more serious follow up note, I think that feeling or not feeling the spirit is a more or less stupid reason for choosing to watch or not watch a movie.

  49. Philadelphia.

  50. So, Brad, you’re saying the warm fuzzies I experience during my annual Death Wish I-V marathon are not from God? That’s crazy talk!

  51. My claim’s a little more scaled back than that, Aaron. I’m saying that I’ve come to realize that the visceral, emotional satisfaction I once experienced watching Mel Gibson kill that effete British dude in The Patriot didn’t come from God.

  52. Another vote for Shawshank Redemption here.

    I’ll also add:
    When Harry Met Sally (yes it was rated R when it was released, and retains the rating!)

  53. I agree with #41. What are we talking about when we *feel* the spirit? Its been my experience that there are always instances, however rare they may be, where I have been enlightened by Truth in circumstances outside those typically thought of. Relevant to this thread was Trainspotting. At the time I saw it, I was at a real lifetime cross-roads and I could really identify with the main character. The whole movie was a testament to living a better life. What in that message is inconsistent with the gospel message? Sure, ends vs means but at the time it surely invoked some real change at a crucial time of life.

  54. The following movies, praised by earlier commenters, are crap:

    Saving Private Ryan
    Schindler’s List
    Shawshank Redemption
    Dead Man Walking
    Mississippi Burning

    I don’t mean to suggest that those people didn’t feel the spirit–for all I know, it’s possible to feel the spirit in crap movies.

  55. I’m saying that I’ve come to realize that the visceral, emotional satisfaction I once experienced watching Mel Gibson kill that effete British dude in The Patriot didn’t come from God.

    Lucious Malfoy had it coming to him.

  56. Really, gst? Schindler’s List and Shawshank Redemption are crap? Please elaborate. I’ll grant you that Lucas really overdoes the sappy, sentimentalism at the end of Saving Private Ryan, even by his standards, but still, really?

  57. Who is Lucas?

  58. Oops. I meant Spielberg.

    (Ever since Raiders, I tend to confuse them. I’m not sure why, since Spielberg is still talented, whereas Lucas is a bumbling fool who needs to back away from the screenplay, slowly….)

  59. i’ve always been a little confused by the term “feeling the spirit.” “feelings” seem so unreliable to me. they are easily manipulated and prone to change based on internal and external circumstances. i’m pretty sure i felt a warm fuzzy while watching “hope floats.” i am also pretty sure that warm fuzzy had more to do with my hormones than the spirit of god.

    this said, i have been profoundly inspired by many an r-rated movie/TV series. for me a movie that inspires is a movie that reminds me of our awesome potential as human beings, that good and evil are not clear cut, and that it is our relationships that provide meaning and purpose. i guess i call feeling inspired the spirit….

    so to feel my kind of spirit i recommend you watch:
    -the lives of others (won an oscar for best foreign film. by far the best movie i’ve seen in in the last 5 years)
    -the wire (hbo tv series)
    -3:10 to Yuma

  60. Mommie Dearest says:

    From what little I know for sure about the spirit (or The Spirit) I don’t believe that he/she/it is concerned with MPAA ratings. That is a construct for religion and its practitioners. From what little I know about art, the spirit can be, uh… present (for lack of a better term) when art is pure. Whatever ‘pure’ means. Sigh. The spirit just won’t be pinned down by words, nor will art, let alone be pinned down by MPAA ratings.

    Nevertheless, I voted yes.
    And if you want to know my favorite movies, just ask me.

  61. Saving Private Ryan, like all Steven Spielberg movies, is technically brilliant and and morally (and therefore dramatically) pointless. I subscribe to James Bowman’s view of the movie.

    Shawshank Redemption is a equally pointless movie about a prison full of improbably gentle and kind convicts and improbably sadistic and murderous guards. Just in case you forget how saintly the cons are supposed to be, one of them is played by the insufferably saintly Morgan Freeman. Of the movies on the list, Shawshank Redemption is easily the worst.

    Schindler’s List and Mississippi Burning have the same problem: they’re designed to make us feel good for our moral accomplishment of merely not being Nazis, or Southern crackers.

    Dead Man Walking I suppose is fine if you share the views of Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, and Sean Penn on criminal justice.

    I agree with Mercedes about The Lives of Others.

  62. The answer is yes, obviously.

    The Spirirt of God testifies of truth. It doesn’t stop doing that because of something so arbitrary as a movie rating.

    To be fair, though, it’s a pretty rare R rated movie that has much of the Spirit. Saving Private Ryan, for sure.

  63. “Except in rare situations, it’s best to be obedient to God – to submit our wills to God – etc”

    Very nice, but that has nothing to do with what we’re talking about. If it were only possible to feel the Spirit when you were completely obedient to God then we’d all be in a lot of trouble and the Spirit would be next to worthless.

  64. I think sometimes Mormons interpret any strong emotional reaction to something (like the deliberate and carefully-designed dramatic arc of a film, or the pause to hold back tears during a testimony) as “the Spirit.” This bugs me to no end–not that people enjoy or find satisfaction or meaning in those experiences, but that that is considered the normal and natural route for spiritual guidance.

    For me, feeling the Spirit means having something click, some glimmer of illumination as to how things work, or why I do what I do, or how I can do something better. Maybe I read to much into Talmage’s AoF on my mission, but I just don’t discern a huge difference between the confirmation I feel when something at Church just sounds right and settles into my heart, and when something secular that I’m reading or studying–or watching in a movie–seems to resonate as truth or shed some light on the human condition.

    So as far as I’m concerned, any good movie should have some of that going on.

    Also, I think art (including film) should offer to those who encounter it some tiny bit of what Enoch encounters in Moses 7: he sees God crying, asks why, and God shows him a relentless string of contrasting scenes of the best and the worst, salvation and damnation, happiness and misery; only after going through all of this does Enoch’s “heart swell wide as eternity” and does he “receive a fulness of joy.” In other words, good art has got to have some ugly in it. And in film, some types of ugliness are going to earn an R rating.

    I recently watched The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. (No idea what it’s rated.) Horrible, tragic movie with a heartless ending. And I mean that in a good way. The ending kept me thinking for days after. I call that a spiritual experience.

    One of my all-time favorite films is Once. It’s got an R for endless strings of the F-word (it’s Irish working class; the F-word is practically a vocable), but I will insist that my kids see it when they’re teens because of its profound message and impact. Also, the male and female leads don’t fool around at all; he hints at it once and she shoots him down (though the actors portraying them did become a couple during the filming…). And also because it has the best soundtrack since Stop Making Sense. If that’s not the Spirit I feel during “When Your Mind’s Made Up,” I’m filling out my paperwork to be an agnostic.

  65. Children of Men.

    But I agree with the commenters who have pointed out that warm fuzzies from a movie are not necessarily the same as feeling the spirit. We should be careful generally to be able to distinguish between emotional manipulation achieved through extremes in a story or twists of plot or the skillful employment of the right kind of music at the right moment and feeling the Spirit testify of Truth.

    This goes just as much for our lives in the Church as for discerning the Spirit in a movie. Did you feel the Spirit during that musical number or was the song simply designed to be a tear-jerker, calculated to provoke this kind of reaction (i.e. emotionally manipulative). Were the speaker’s oh-so-earnest declarations of belief and exhortations channelling the Spirit of God or were they calculated to produce a certain reaction. Were his or her tears real or for effect?

    With movies, remember that the people you are watching are professional actors. If they do their job right, they are hoping to induce a particular reaction.

  66. The Last Kiss

  67. While we’re talking about the virtues of the movie rating system, I’ll refer readers to Molly Bennion’s Dialogue article entitled, “Righteousness Express: Riding the PG&R from June 2003.

  68. I know that individual GAs have said not to watch R-rated movies, but not all have. And as far as I know, the church has never taken an official position on this subject. It would be meaningless outside the U.S. anyway since nowhere other than here to we have ratings. I like President Hinckley’s advice to not see “inappropriate” movies.

  69. I voted yes, not because I have ever felt it while watching an R rayed movie but because the Spirit is certainly stronger than anything made by man and if it wants to get through, it will.

  70. Yes.
    But is it ever necessary or preferable to your eternal progression to watch an R-rate movie?

  71. @ 63, “Very nice, but that has nothing to do with what we’re talking about. If it were only possible to feel the Spirit when you were completely obedient to God then we’d all be in a lot of trouble and the Spirit would be next to worthless.”

    True, you can feel the spirit. But I’d tweak that a bit and say is it possible to have the holy ghost dwell within you when you’re not being obedient to God? Nope.

    I know the times in my life when I’ve had the Holy Ghost dwell with me, rather than just tough my heart and mind from time to time. Sometimes I think all of us are living far beneath the mere privileges that accompany baptism, let alone the temple.

  72. Mephibosheth says:

    The first one that comes to my mind was Passion of the Christ. I’ve never understood the “torture porn” critique. Eric D. Snider, a movie critic who is a member of the church, captures my sentiments exactly in his review. He has also done a couple of articles about the ridiculously arbitrary rating system, too. Apparently movie producers often “suggest” to the rating board what they think the film should be, and it appears that all they have to do to get the rating they want is:

    1) Be one of the six major motion picture studios.
    2) Ask.

    I agree that having a spiritual experience during a rated-R movie is rare. But even if you don’t have a spiritual experience, there are a lot of them you should see because they are virtuous, lovely or of good report or praiseworthy.

  73. Naismith says:

    “One of my all-time favorite films is Once. It’s got an R for endless strings of the F-word (it’s Irish working class; the F-word is practically a vocable), but I will insist that my kids see it when they’re teens because of its profound message and impact. Also, the male and female leads don’t fool around at all; he hints at it once and she shoots him down…”

    And if you didn’t feel the Spirit at the end, with that act of PURE love….

    I agree, I did show it to my teenaged girls because there are so few examples of how to turn down the offer of sex, which is a skill they need to have. (Anyone think of others?)

    And yes, that film was a small indie production; had it come from a major studio it would have been PG-13. Plus, the Irish folks don’t pronounce the F-word the same way, so it didn’t bother me as much.

  74. Susan M,
    I defy you to find a single poll I’ve ever put up that hasn’t been stupid. It is my knack.

    We are a family show. Please mind that basic-cable language.

    There are obviously several different notions at play. Here are my brief answers:
    What does it mean to “feel the spirit”?
    That depends upon the individual, doesn’t it? In any case, Mormons should have some experience with it and should be able to identify the activity without me.
    Should we tie ourselves down to an arbitrary rating system?
    We tie ourselves down to arbitrary limits all the time and don’t care a bit. Speed limits, no more than 10 items in the express aisle, 2.5 children. We even seem to consider some of these as having some impact on eternal behaviors.
    Did the church ever teach not to go to R-rated movies?
    President Benson specifically told us not to. That admonition has never been incorporated into “official” church doctrine, but lots of people certainly treat it as a commandment (and those people apparently don’t much hang out at BCC). Heck, I know lots of people who avoid all PG-13 movies with great fervency.
    Are people on this thread proud of their deviancy or looking to justify their sins?
    I don’t have any idea. Some may be. Some may not.
    What is my secret religious agenda?
    I had a conversation with my brother about revelation a couple of weeks back. In it, he asserted that active deliberate sin disqualifies you to receive revelation in an ecclesiastical calling. So, I thought I would test the principle. Not that I think that R-rated movie watching is necessarily a sin (I think its status is debatable; and certainly why we are watching the movie is the most important aspect of that status), but it is definitely *naughty* in an LDS setting.
    As for me, I voted yes. My example is the Mission, which I’m convinced was originally rated R, even though it isn’t now. I admit freely that it is emotionally manipulative, but it is also a source of much religious symbolism that is helpful for me. Also, it has excellent music.

  75. Peter LLC says:

    It would be meaningless outside the U.S. anyway since nowhere other than here to we have ratings.

    Certainly MPAA ratings are hardly global standards, but most countries do have ratings.

  76. Another vote for Amelie

  77. Being moved does not necessarily equate to being moved by the Spirit.

    I’d also like to point out that the BoM movies are either PG or unrated, but probably G or PG.

  78. Gladiator made me feel good in a Captain Moroni vs. Zarahemnah kind of way.

    I am quite sure that The Road would fail Pres. Packer’s “uplifting” test, but I still thought it evoked powerful emotions.

  79. I know this is only a half-serious poll, so in that spirit, here’s a half-serious critique:

    Some other possible ways the poll question could have been phrased:
    * “Does God actually disagree with all those churchy prudes who let the MPAA (or Ezra Taft Benson) make their entertainment decisions for them?”
    * “A few F-words here, a dash of nudity there, a gruesome scene once in a while. If Jesus walked in the room, wouldn’t he just pull up a chair and grab the popcorn? At least he’s strong enough to handle it.
    * “Glad we’re not like those weak-minded common church members who claim to be negatively affected by edgy content. Am I right folks? AM I RIGHT?”

  80. living in zion says:

    Sunshine Cleaning made me happy.

    Thanks gang for a nice list of Mormon approved R rated movies. I hardly know where to start!

  81. On a more serious note, I can’t recall feeling the spirit during ANY movie. I’ve felt touched by something many times, sometimes powerfully, but I rarely recall anything akin to the whisperings of the spirit. Just a few exceptions, and usually when there was an important principle for me to understand.

    So basically, I have a problem with the question from the word go. Considering that even more uplifting cinema registers no more than neutral to the Spirit (doesn’t offend the spirit), I have a hard time imagining God granting a spiritual endorsement to some of the edgier fare out there.

    I’m not a black and white thinker and I do understand the distinctions out there. But I do notice that my ability to get spiritual promptings does track pretty closely with the uplifting qualities of what I’m filling my mind with day to day. And the times in which I have gotten fewer promptings and less insight have tracked pretty well with the times where what I’ve been reading or viewing hasn’t been exactly what I’d be recommending to the bishop.

    Just sayin

  82. I am usually really, really hesitant to dispute anyone who is talking about their personal spiritual experiences, but I pretty much don’t believe 95% of the claims in this thread. Emotional experiences and uplifting messages abound, but really, folks…a member of the Godhead testifying to you of the truthfulness of a screenplay? Such may indeed happen, but I think it is far less likely than is being argued in this thread.

    If anything, I think a vast majority of any such communications from God would likely include some variation on “stop watching this rubbish and go play with your kids.”

  83. This post really has nothing to do with movies and everything to do with the Spirit. R-rated movies could be substituted with certain forms of music, literature and art. This is a question about how we feel the Spirit and if it can dwell in us when we are exposed to things Mormons don’t like. Like MCQ says, as Mormons we should have a pretty decent idea of how we feel the Spirit in our lives. In our OWN lives. I don’t know why we constantly set limits on how others should be feeling the Spirit, though. What’s wrong with the answer that some people can feel the Spirit watching something when others don’t? Or that when one person feels emotion others feel the Spirit? Why do we have to correct them and tell them that all they’re feeling is emotion and not the Spirit? And then to declare how annoyed we are certain ways people bear their testimonies? Seriously? Ugh. How dreadful it must be to constantly project your ideal Mormonism on everyone else.

  84. I just thank the Lord that I got out of BYU before the R-rated dictum came down, and as such am left to my own brain and spirit to decide what movies I should and shouldn’t see. But, this is coming from someone who saw Hellraiser on my first date with my wife at BYU (married 21 years).
    I recently enjoyed Shutter Island and Moon. I agree with Shawshank Redemption and add The Green Mile. Precious was also very moving.

  85. You know, some people think that talking about the difference between the Spirit, the Light of Christ, emotions, and your conscience is irrelevant, but I think in these cases, I think it’s very relevant. I’m not going to try to project my experiences on anyone else, but I’m also wondering how all of you feel the Spirit so often. I’ve felt it maybe 10 times in my entire life. I try to record it when I do. I regard these as specific illuminations, instructions, or revelations.

    I do think that I believe in God thanks to art. Specifically, The Beatles (don’t laugh). But would I say that this is because of the Spirit? Not as I understand it. I think good art necessarily points us toward God, shows us that there is more to life than this, etc. Good art also teaches correct principles. But I think this is all working through the Light of Christ which permeates through all His creations. Maybe this is all just a terminology confusion.

    I will say that watching Band of Brothers turned me into an anti-war pacifist. Not rated R, but it would have been had it been a movie. Still not sure that was the Spirit though.

  86. Latter-day Guy says:

    I’d have to say yes. Like others have mentioned, The Passion of the Christ had that effect on me. (Though perhaps it might be more accurate to say I felt the Spirit as a result of seeing the film, not necessarily during the film. That being said, calling the film “torture porn” is gross mischaracterization.) I also thought a few parts of Children of Men would also qualify. That scene where they carry the baby down the stairs and out of the building that’s being bombarded… wow. (Also, Theo = Noah; watch the film and pay attention to his interactions with animals. And if you’re going to be paying attention anyway, the scene where they get attacked on the road by the gang with the motorcycles––it’s a single shot that lasts something like 7 minutes. I have to clue how they did it.)

    On the other hand, the most spiritual films I’ve ever watched weren’t R-rated. (Wit, Doubt, Babette’s Feast, and––an absolute miracle of a picture––Bright Star.)

  87. I took a BYU class that required us to watch 3 or 4 Rated R movies so obviously it is okay.

    In all seriousness, I am sure you can feel the Spirit anywhere but for some reason I can’t feel it when I hear profanity, see a lot of violence, or overly sensual content. I hate to sound heretical, but I agree with the idea of the MPAA rating system as a general set of guidelines though it isn’t always accurate. I have seen a bunch of movies on clearplay and in general a lot of these movies are dark even without the specific content. I saw Memento on clearplay and there were no specifically bad things (it was brilliantly done) but I just felt kind of yucky. This has nothing to do with personal conditioning as I was raised on HBO and rated R movies before I joined the church.

    I wonder if we each have a personal internal meter that we should follow and our ability to feel spiritual has to do with whether we cross our own line or agreements with God.

    Good discussion, thanks for the poll and question.

  88. “a member of the Godhead testifying to you of the truthfulness of a screenplay”

    Scott, I’m not sure “feeling the Spirit” means “testifying to you of the truthfulness of…” in quite the way you’re suggesting, but that’s a longer conversation than I have time for…

  89. Latter-day Guy says:

    I agree with the idea of the MPAA rating system as a general set of guidelines though it isn’t always accurate is so arbitrary and inconsistent as to render it a complete farce.

    There, that’s fixed it. Seriously, This Film is not Yet Rated is really worth giving a look.

  90. Red Dawn.

    Who could not feel the Spirit? Patriotism and patriotic songs (the execution scene!)! Commies vs gun-toting, western/mountain dwelling, Main Street Americans! Commie Mexicans in western states (that is, like, some sort of prophecy for our days, right?)! Self-sacrifice!

    If you can’t feel the Spirit in RED DAWN, then you are past feeling.

  91. Matt Thurston says:

    Too many to list. Most recently, “The Kids Are All Right.”

  92. It's a series of tubes says:

    86: Children of Men is exceptionally well done – thought provoking, raw, and intense. That being said, you might be interested to know that some of the extended takes, though quite complicated, are in fact several takes stitched together:

    “the car ambush was shot in six sections and at four different locations over one week and required five seamless digital transitions”

  93. I will admit I found the ending of Good Will Hunting pretty moving and inspiring, but I’m not sure if I would jump to the conclusion that I was feeling the Spirit, simply because I know how the Spirit operates specifically in my life and warm fuzzy feelings are not the MO.

  94. Matt Thurston says:

    With the exception of Pixar movies, most films that deal with complex human subject matter — the kind of films that for me could potentially trigger a spiritual response — are usually rated R. PG and PG-13 movies are aimed at teens or families and the “message,” if it’s there at all, is usually fairly simplistic. There are countless exceptions on both sides (R vs PG), but as “This Film Is Not Yet Rated” makes clear, film ratings have as much to do with target audience (kids/teens vs adults) as it has to do with content.

  95. An illuminating story:

    A friend went to see an animated movie. It was well executed and very powerful. (I do not know what he saw, he is now deceased.) He was deeply moved by the film. When he reflected on the movie he saw and the emotions it aroused, he said that these were the same feelings he had when he had spiritual experiences in the Church. He counted this against the Church if a mere animated move could move him so deeply. As a result he left the Church!

    I have interpreted this in the opposite. The animation was made by spiritually receptive people who knew eternal values. Why can we not perceive the spirit in a film created by spiritually responsive people even if it is an animation? Even if it is R rated? The rating of the move does not matter if the makers are presenting eternal truths or disturbing facts that we should be aware of.

  96. Red Dawn was never rated R.


  97. Precious, Shawshank, Schindler’s List, Crash, Restrepo, Once, Braveheart, Doubt, etc. etc.

    As with life, it is the dark and jagged moments that make us appreciate the sweet and light moments. I often find R rated movies to be more honest with showing the dark side of life, which then provides a better contrast when humanity and goodness emerges.

  98. The “Was Red Dawn Rated-R?” debate really deserves it’s own thread. Nevertheless, I will state the inarguable gospel truth for interested souls:

    Red Dawn WAS Rated-R. It was also Rated PG-13. One of those rare movies that received different ratings at different times/places. I believe it and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom were the films responsible for the invention of the PG-13 rating. (I could be wrong about this, but I seem to remember knowing this at one point).

  99. New question:

    Can you provide specific examples of feeling the Spirit in G rated movies?

    No poll on this, just curious to see if people are going to go with any non-Pixar film.

  100. My favorite: Changing Lanes (2002). The film takes place on a Good Friday and has strong themes of forgiveness and redemption. It spoke to me in a powerful way about the Atonement and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

    And I agree with Snider’s review of The Passion.

    Unfortunately, with the exception of the The Blind Side (which wasn’t especially well done), I can’t think of any movies, regardless of rating, I’ve seen in the past year that I’ve found particularly inspiring.

  101. Million Dollar Baby

    The scene where he lets her die.

  102. Lorin (79 & 81), you have a new fan. :D

    Rusty (83), FYI, my comment about being moved vs. moved by the Spirit was about ME as I thought about the few R and PG-13 movies I have seen. I hadn’t even read the other comments, only scanned a couple.

    So I find it particularly funny that you were being judgmental about being judgmental, and inaccurately (in my case) to boot. Sort of an ur-judgmentalism. ;)

  103. Interesting discussion. I’ve been trying to sort out the differences in being moved my emotion, and moved by the spirit, which are two different things, but often intersect like in a Venn diagram.

    I’ve often been moved by movies, and suspect that on more than one occasion, I’ve been moved by the spirit, but it is hard to pin it down to a particular movie. All except one, that is, that wasn’t that great a movie.

    It was (choking, gasping for breath, pleading for an honest hearing here) Phenomenon, with John Travolta (one of the big reasons it wasn’t all that great). However, in the movie there is a scene that said to me in a very clear way, “This is how the sacrament should be working in your life, and it’s not”. End result was that the movie would not have been worth the price of admission except for that one moment. And I believe it was PG-13.

    Apart from that, there are a number of R rated movies already listed here that I have been moved emotionally by, but not necessarily in what I would call a spiritual way.

  104. Yes, I have. But what I tended to think about after this question was the opposite: whether I feel the spirit during Church-produced movies. Some of them I do. Others seem to try and appeal to my senses so much with music and images to a level that becomes distracting and so I don’t feel anything. It’s like sensory overload in an attempt to help me feel something. I don’t like when movies, concerts, short clips, etc. try and make me feel something using a certain type of music, lighting, image, or other features that clearly were not present during the actual event. It’s distracting. Don’t get me wrong: music helps me feel something “good” and “moving” too. But, for me, stuff like music is super distracting where it has no place. For example, it is always ridiculous to me that certain light, orchestral music is playing during scenes from the scriptures. Was that music really playing as these events occurred?! No. It’s just there as an appeal to my ears and senses, and it doesn’t need to be because I’m about to see something that–on it’s own–can be spiritually powerful. Or how about the lighting and extremely clean, pressed clothing in films depicting times that were actually very dirty and rough? Same with the faces and actors they choose, who always happen to have perfectly straight, vaneered teeth. All of this stuff distracts from the essence of an otherwise amazing message that is there and that I can appreciate more if none of the artificial 5-senses crap was there.

    One of the most moving Church vids I saw recently was the OT short on Abraham and Isaac. It was shot on old film. The actors look like a couple of ‘nobody’s they grabbed off of farm equipment from Sanpete County. There is no music that I can recall. The lighting looked natural, “on location.” It seems like there was very little post production. The dialog is almost strictly limited to what we have from the OT text. Most of the message is non-verbal. It depicts them walking up the mountainside and then they just stop. Abraham has a tragic look on his gritty, leathery face. Isaac just looks back at him, then looks at the sticks he is carrying, and then recalls they have not found a calf. The feeling became awful and disturbing for moment–i.e., that a father would even consider doing such a thing. But then Isaac reluctantly submits to what he understands is happening, and the symbolism of the atonement punches me in the face. It’s suddenly very spiritually moving.

  105. On emotion vs. the Spirit, President Hunter offered this to CES instructors. (It’s an unpublished talk, but cited by Robert Millett in a BYU publication, “Bearing Pure Testimony” in The Religious Educator, 1:1.) My bolding.

    “Let me offer a word of caution on this subject. I think if we are not careful as professional teachers working in the classroom every day, we may begin to try to counterfeit the true influence of the Spirit of the Lord by unworthy and manipulative means. I get concerned when it appears that strong emotion or free-flowing tears are equated with the presence of the Spirit. Certainly the Spirit of the Lord can bring strong emotional feelings, including tears, but that outward manifestation ought not be confused with the presence of the Spirit itself.
    I have watched a great many of my brethren over the years and we have shared some rare and unspeakable spiritual experiences together. Those experiences have all been different, each special in its own way, and such sacred moments may or may not be accompanied by tears. Very often they are, but sometimes they are accompanied by total silence. Other times they are accompanied by joy. Always they are accompanied by a great manifestation of the truth, of revelation to the heart.

  106. There, that’s fixed it. Seriously, This Film is not Yet Rated is really worth giving a look.

    Latter-day Guy,
    That movie does a pretty good job of exposing the ratings board as inconsistent, arbitrary and subjective, but the rest of it is basically a bunch of independent filmmakers whining that they got screwed because their films were rated NC-17 rather than R. OF COURSE it’s arbitrary and subjective. When people put any kind of restriction or limit on any form of art, artists will ALWAYS, as part of their DNA, ALWAYS push those limits. When your whole work of art is an attempt to smudge lines it’s utterly absurd when you complain that someone still tries to re-draw that bright line. I walked away from that movie being MORE in favor of the ratings system than I had walking into it. The original purpose of the system was to give parents a general guide as to the content of a film so that they could make decisions on what kinds of films their children could watch. Shorthand for parents. Sure it might be antiquated in the internet era of information, but it’s still pretty good shorthand for parents.

    John C,
    I’m sure there are many people who have felt the Spirit watching Babett’s Feast, Fiddler on the Roof, Mary Poppins, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and The Wizard of Oz (to name a quick few).

    I don’t know what you’re talking about, I wasn’t reacting to what you said. So don’t judge me for my judgment of your judgment!

  107. #105 – There is a section of Preach My Gospel dealing with that quote. I cited it often on my mission when I felt other Elders were being manipulative.

  108. Also, this offers definitive proof that the bloggernacle isn’t like the rest of the church. Do you honestly belief that the poll would be so tilted toward yes if this poll was held in your ward?

  109. 107- I didn’t know, but I found it. PMG it cites it with ellipses from Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, 184.

    “President Howard W. Hunter offered this counsel: “Let me offer a word of caution. . . . I think if we are not careful . . . , we may begin to try to counterfeit the true influence of the Spirit of the Lord by unworthy and manipulative means. I get concerned when it appears that
    strong emotion or free-flowing tears are equated with the presence of the Spirit. Certainly the Spirit of the Lord can bring strong emotional feelings, including tears, but that outward manifestation ought not to be confused with the presence of the Spirit itself” (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, 184). The Spirit of the Lord always edifies.”

  110. Rusty (106) Oh, yeah? Well don’t ju– . . . nevermind, now I’m all confused.

  111. Lorin (79) I have a hard time picturing the Savior sitting down with a bowl of popcorn and watching a G movie either. I think he’d have more important things to do – at the very least teaching those who were watching the movie greater truths. Devoid of having the savior teach me while I kneel at his feet, I look to other man-made venues for my education.

    There are different types of “feeling the spirit” I assume, having been baptized and received the holy ghost, that I am usually feeling the spirit acting in my life. And other than when the spirit is offended, and I feel a void where it was once clearly present, do I usually notice this feeling. I have definitely watched many movies without feeling the leaving of the spirit, so I assume it to still be with me as my covenant implies.

    On an inspiration level – Having grown up in rural Utah, and then attended a white-bread Christian college (Pepperdine), I didn’t have any clue as to the evil of racism. American History X – despite its foul-language, nudity, and intense violence – really had a profound anti-racism effect on me. Crips and Bloods – Made in America; a documentary by Stacy Peralta (rated R) had a similar enlightening effect on me. I don’t think these films could have had this effect without some of the questionable content. I attribute this enlightenment/illumination as coming from the holy spirit, even though it didn’t come with the hallmark burning in the bosom.

    As far as burning in the bosom greater truth and knowledge being shed upon me during a movie – I can’t think of any particular instance, and wouldn’t be surprised to find out that none has occured. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t “felt the spirit” while watching a rated R movie.

    I voted Yes.

  112. A couple of thoughts on comments made a while back…

    Anyone who thinks The Shawshank Redemption is about gentle inmates and murderous guards completely missed the entire movie.

    I don’t think the Spirit will testify to the truthfulness of a screenplay, but that wasn’t the question. The question was, “Can you feel the Spirit during such a movie?” The Spirit can and does testify of the truthfulness of a message. Anything that is good is of God. We know it is of God because the Spirit witnesses of this. So if there is a scene or a line or a dialogue from a movie that speaks of truth, and you know that that element is speaking of truth, or is even speaking Truth, then yes, you have felt the Spirit, regardless of the rating.

    Are there G rated movies that do the same thing? I’d say yes, definitely! Off the top of my head, I’d say that The Lion King is a great example, as is Beauty and the Beast. Both have elements that speak of eternal truths about the purpose of life.

  113. Pan’s Labyrinth. At the end of that movie, I seriously understood the meaning of life.

    I didn’t used to watch many R-movies unless they were really mild, like Last of the Mohicans and when I saw some of the more R-rated scenes, I would get really uncomfortable. However, at the time I was leading a very sheltered life. In the years since then, I’ve had children, moved to the east coast, experienced hardships, and then became a nurse and really learned what kind of suffering so many people experience. Now I am totally moved by many R-rated movies because I understand that they are trying to portray the life that so many people lead. I know that it is Hollywood-ized, but I feel like I can become a better person by watching them and understanding what other people have gone through. I think that brings the spirit much more than some PG-rated movie created purely for entertainment value. Blood Diamond, The Fall, and Slumdog Millionaire were a few that really touched me. If I made a list of all the movies that really made an impact in my life, 75% of them would be rated R.

  114. Five words: The Passion of the Christ.

  115. GBLJ1232 says:

    I think people are confusing the Spirit with emotions that movies can cause.

  116. oudenos,


    Red Dawn.

    Who could not feel the Spirit? Patriotism and patriotic songs (the execution scene!)! Commies vs gun-toting, western/mountain dwelling, Main Street Americans! Commie Mexicans in western states (that is, like, some sort of prophecy for our days, right?)! Self-sacrifice!

    If you can’t feel the Spirit in RED DAWN, then you are past feeling.

    I either must be past feeling or Red Dawn must be rated PG-13 thus has no spirit to it whatsoever.

  117. “I think people are confusing the Spirit with emotions that movies can cause.”

    I think people are perfectly capable of telling the difference.

  118. #115,

    I think people are confusing the Spirit with emotions that movies can cause.

    don’t spoil the fun yet, sir. :)

  119. Russel.G says:

    Personally, I no longer watch R-rated movies. And I tend to agree with Larry the Cable Guy’s line of thinking in #26.

    Music and film can manipulate the listener/viewer and evoke emotional responses; but such emotion, even if it “feels good,” is not necessarily the Spirit. Not every burning in the bosom is the Holy Ghost bearing witness.

    Prophets have warned us that Satan, as the great deceiver, offers a counterfeit of holy things. It stands to reason that such manipulative media uses those visceral emotions to mimic godly powers, which is why subjecting ourselves to too much of this can desensitize us to real manifestations of the Spirit, i.e. the whisperings of the Holy Ghost.

  120. ““I think people are confusing the Spirit with emotions that movies can cause.”

    I think people are perfectly capable of telling the difference.”

    A related point: I think the way that people tell the difference is by consulting their ideological commitments as to what they think the Spirit should or should not do. I am skeptical of the idea that we make these determinations by some sort of careful, dispassionate assessment of the phenomenon we are experiencing.

  121. which is why subjecting ourselves to too much of this can desensitize us to real manifestations of the Spirit

    So if I attend a church where Fast and Testimony is riddled with fake spirit-tears, is it your advice that I not attend that anymore so I don’t become desensitized?

  122. Russel.G says:

    Is it the Spielbergian R-rated spirits giving you the gift of fake spirit-tear discernment? If so, then you probably should avoid that church. From the sounds of it, you may have already become desensitized …

  123. Russel G, if you offer to shake hands with the spirit-tears….

  124. Just flash them a gang sign…

  125. I cried like a baby in Jerry Maguire. Just sayin’.

  126. I’m also in the camp that says just because something is emotional doesn’t mean you’re feeling the spirit. I laugh out loud at the emotion caused by watching the cast of NBC’s show Community tell jokes. I cheer with emotion when a team I’m rooting for makes the game-winning score. I get angry at seeing the effects of the BP oil spill knowing it could have been prevented if they constructed things right. None of those scenarios, as emotional as they are, make me feel the spirit.

    Everyone reading this blog would probably agree that the Spirit leaves us when we are not keeping the commandments, when we put ourselves in a position where keeping the commandments is unlikely, or we get desensitized to the spirit. We probably also all agree that we “seek out that which is uplifting and edifying.” That being the case, is the movie as presented going to uplift and edify or desensitize us? I voted NO because 95% of the R-rated movies as released in theaters and DVD do more to desensitize our ability to feel the Spirit than to edify.

    Many rated R movies are watchable when edited for TV but that’s not always a pass to see any movie on cable. You have to know the content. Watching Showgirls or Striptease edited on the USA network still wouldn’t be appropriate.

    As already stated by others, the ratings system is arbitrary. Not all PG-13 movies are okay either. Commercials for The Hangover and Hot Tub Time Machine (which are PG-13) seem funny but from what I’ve heard, there’s enough sexuality in them to make it rated R. Why watch the sex for the funny bits?

    My general rule is to not see R-rated movies but there are exceptions; it’s not an all or nothing rule. The historic realism of Shindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, The Patriot, etc. tend to get leniency from me. (I haven’t seen Letters From Iwo Jima or The Hurt Locker.) The violence of The Road and The Book of Eli sound comparable but given that they’re more “what if” rather than “it was” makes me not want to see them.

  127. Um, both Hot Tub Time Machine and The Hangover are R. Not that it matters, but they were interesting examples for you to use as PG-13 rated movies . . .

  128. Russel G. – well, it didn’t take you long to try to guess the state of my soul, did it?

    I was pointing out the fact that your comment made it seem like over-exposure to spiritual-like scenarios could desensitize us to the actual spirit. Quite frankly I’ve never heard of this. I’ve heard of being desensitized to violence, sex, and language; and in correlation to these things becoming numb to the spirit. But desensitization to the spirit by exposure to spiritual things is a new idea to me. And to be honest, at first glance, it doesn’t seem like a very well-founded or logical idea.

  129. Latter-day Guy says:

    That movie does a pretty good job of exposing the ratings board as inconsistent, arbitrary and subjective, but the rest of it is basically a bunch of independent filmmakers whining that they got screwed because their films were rated NC-17 rather than R. …it’s utterly absurd when you complain that someone still tries to re-draw that bright line.

    But that’s the point, Rusty. THERE IS NO “bright line.” Yeah, there was plenty of bitching and moaning, but the indie filmmakers’ stories simply illustrated the point that the MPAA ratings have little relation to the content of the film. (Kind of like the SNL ad for the board game “Mmmph!” It doesn’t matter what the word on your card is, the only clue you can give your teammates is “Mmmph!”) There are some good resources out there –– comes to mind –– that are actually informative, but the MPAA is like using a thermometer with a +/-5º margin of error: yeah, it could tell you the surface of the sun is warmish, but I wouldn’t make childcare decisions using an instrument that has difficulty differentiating between 95º and 105º.

    Any ratings system is going to be arbitrary, and that’s just fine. It’s the inconsistency that makes the MPAA worthless.

  130. LDG,
    I think Rusty responded to that once. The responsive quote:

    But the reason I am not as opposed to the system as I was before I watched the film is how much it drives filmmakers crazy. You see, filmmakers are artists. This is a community of people I know very well and if there’s one thing I know about artists it is that they always have been, are, and always will be boundary-pushers. This is true in almost the full history of art and especially so within the last 150 or so years. Artists desperately want to know where the “line” is so that they can go right up to it and mock it and the moving target of vagueness is the perfect antidote. Whatever the system, someone will push the limit and everyone will complain.

  131. [quote]Um, both Hot Tub Time Machine and The Hangover are R. Not that it matters[/quote]
    Well it does in that it blows away my comparison. I hate it when the world isn’t how I remember it…

  132. Also, the Patriot isn’t remotely historically accurate. So, there’s another strike against a comment with a perfectly reasonable sentiment.

  133. Russel.G says:

    # 128 “it didn’t take you long to try to guess the state of my soul, did it?”

    Probably no longer than it takes you in Fast and Testimony meeting to deem someone’s testimony as “riddled with fake spirit-tears.”

    “But desensitization to the spirit by exposure to spiritual things is a new idea to me. And to be honest, at first glance, it doesn’t seem like a very well-founded or logical idea.”

    I’m not saying that exposure to spiritual things desensitizes us to the spirit. I’m saying that exposure to counterfeit spiritual experiences can dull our sensitivity to more common yet authentic manifestations of the Holy Ghost, (like the still small voice I sometimes disregard thinking, “That’s just a silly thought. Why would I do that?” only to realize later that had I heeded, I could have been in a position to help someone in need).

    I liken the emotional doppelganger of the Spirit to that adrenaline rush you get when you attend a worship-rock concert, (which, interestingly, many mega-churches and mini-mega-churches now feature as a central part of their worship) which isn’t far removed from the adrenaline rush you would get from a non-worship rock concert. I wouldn’t think of calling that feeling I get from a Modest Mouse concert the Holy Ghost, but one might be lead to call such feeling from a worship-rock concert a manifestation of the Spirit.

    Experience that enough times and the whisperings of the Holy Ghost as direct revelation will pale in comparison to that thrill and rush one would get at a weekly worship with accompanying rock band (and rock climbing wall to boot!).

    I don’t think it’s a large leap to infer that the same idea I’ve described with music can occur with movies, which I think many would agree is a media form that holds the greatest power to emotionally manipulate.

  134. Well, my judgmentalism was hypothetical, for the record the Fast and Testimony meetings I attend are largely tear-free. Yours seemed to be a little more directed to a real person.

    I see what you’re trying to say, and it makes a little more sense now. I will agree that the psuedo-spiritual feeling adrenaline rushes that are created in rock-hall churches can manipulate people into thinking they are feeling God’s presence.
    Where I disagree is that this would somehow desensitize someone from feeling the real spirit when God was trying to testify to them. This hasn’t been my experience. I believe if someone were truly seeking to follow the Lord, and up to a point had only found a Rock-Hall church to lead them, when they later were introduced to a more perfect version of the gospel that they would be able to feel the spirit testifying to them just as strongly as any other seeker.

    You could make a more convincing argument that if people start to turn to these things (in this case – movies they feel are uplifting) to guide them they might stop relying on the church/gospel of Christ. But that would be a different discussion entirely.

  135. are you telling me that Glen Beck is not feeling the spirit through his tears?

  136. MikeInWeHo says:

    “I will agree that the psuedo-spiritual feeling adrenaline rushes that are created in rock-hall churches can manipulate people into thinking they are feeling God’s presence.”

    How can anyone possibly tell for sure, especially in that context? And who on earth is right to say those people aren’t feeling God’s presence in that moment?

    Anybody here ever attend a Pentecostal service? This conversation reminded me of my one and only visit years ago. Wow, that was a trip.

  137. Mike,
    Actually, I wouldn’t claim to know whether or not they were. And really, what you’re asking is very much in line with what I’ve said. My agreement only goes so far that I think it could be possible to create adrenaline-based feelings that resembled the spirit in these venues. I don’t think that that is necessarily the case, only that it could be. I’ve never been so I can’t say.

  138. I’ve been to several rock&roll-ish church services, and felt that super-duper buzz of emotion whilst singing praises to “Our Great God” each and every time.

    Good tunes, good times.

  139. Re rock and roll religious music: I remember what my dad said on the subject. “Even if I knew that Jesus liked that music, I wouldn’t feel compelled to like it myself.”

  140. Hotel Rwanda was a bit of an awakening for me. It made me question myself and what I believed. Basically “how was I not aware” of this genocide. How could this not be a spiritual experience? Also American History X also caused me to think about where I stood on race issues.

    While Hotel was violent it was a movie that needs to be seen.

  141. It’s a great question: how can I can tell if I’m feeling the spirit of God or not? What I would think is that you would want to identify with the emotion or mind-state first (for me, feeling the spirit has usually (but not always) been what I would describe as a mind-state or awareness experience rather than a flood of tears (although this has happened)). Then isolate various contexts or external/internal stimuli that lead to such feelings/states. For example, I have experienced what I would describe as a feeling of timeless peace while watching someone perform mundane, routine, unremarkable acts as part of their life (no, it they were not a ‘poor’ person who I would have feelings for in the sense of their poverty). The feeling/awareness was what I would include in my description of God. The person/persons did not even know me, know I was watching, and I don’t know them either. There are no stimulating presentations or even an attempt at a stimulating presentation in these experiences. So where does this ‘deeper peace’ awareness come from? Where does the deep deep love for that person, who I don’t even know and have nothing to do with, come from? No other stimuli were present; it’s just me observing something that is completely unspectacular.

    For me, it is easier to say where I think those feelings or awarenesses come from than, say, if I’m singing about God while there is a punk band playing. Or if I see the landings at Omaha beach on Saving Private Ryan and think of a sense of spiritual valiance, divine mission, and honor that the participants had. I may experience an emotion like that in these contexts, but it may not be as easy for me to separate out the effect that music or heroic sacrifice has on me from the effect that reflecting on God has on me.

  142. Hotel Rwanda is not rated R.

  143. I’m quite curious now about making an R rated movie with a Mormon message. Let’s really test this theory out and see if the rating of a movie does indeed drive away the Spirit, or if the Spirit shows up anyways even though there are f words and sex or violence.

  144. Sex + Violence + Mormon Message = Battlestar Galactica!

  145. I only feel the spirit when movies are correlated.

  146. Latter-day Guy says:

    Daniel, the first cut of Saints and Soldiers was rated R. The filmmakers re-edited to get the PG-13, but I seriously doubt that the original cut was spiritually inferior to the theatrical release.

  147. thanks Daniel—I guess I just assumed due to the violence and the harsh subject matter. It still changed me.

  148. #147. I didn’t think Hotel Rwanda was nearly as violent as I expected. Most of the actual violence was off-screen or implied. There were gruesome scenes with dead bodies, but that was after the killings had already taken place.

  149. Jesus of Montreal. I’m not sure I’d have the same reaction now, but it blew my socks off at the time.

  150. nat kelly says:

    A couple people up-thread mentioned this but, The Fall by Tarsem is really one of the most incredible films ever produced.

    Film as art. It’s still possible.

  151. Hotel Rwanda was originally rated R, but on appeal was changed to PG-13

  152. I would indeed be remiss if I failed to mention the greatest movie ever made–Blade Runner
    And, yes, Deckard is a replicant.

  153. I wonder what the prophet would say after reading all these posts…Something to think about. Would you argue in favor of Rated R movies with the prophet? If not, then your case is moot.

  154. #153
    True-we’ve been told not to watch rated R movies for a reason. Doen’t mean that all PG-13 or even PG movies are appropriate either. So-All Rs are a no go, and use wise judgment on the rest.

  155. Missy and JayMe
    The prophet is hereby invited to my house for a evening of R rated movies.

    If he hasn’t watched Blade Runner, he really needs to.
    But which version?

  156. Latter-day Guy says:

    153, He would say:

    “Over 150 comments and nobody’s mentioned Dogma!?!? WTF? That movie kicks ass!”

  157. LDG,
    150 comments were typed
    Dogma was never mentioned
    Butts were kicked by it

  158. Latter-day Guy says:

    Sorry. The last sentence isn’t accurate. What he’d really say is: “We watched it for FHE with the grandkids. Family members were bonded; asses were kicked.”

    Seriously, Missy & JayMe, could you have made your comments a little more smug? If you think it’s sinful to watch R-rated films, that’s just dandy. You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, and you’re also free to share it. But all the “I wonder…” and “Something to think about…” and “told not to … for a reason” business is insufferable. You don’t really “wonder what the prophet would say.” You’re convinced that you know exactly what the prophet would say, and that his opinion would coincide precisely with your own––and that’s just fine!–but grow a pair and speak plainly.

    After all, I really wonder what Nephi would have to say about this ridiculous condemnation-by-implication-and-innuendo technique. Something to think about.

  159. Latter-day Guy says:

    Gah! John C., quick on the draw again, I see.

  160. Hotel Rwanda showed that you don’t have to show the bullet exiting a person’s brain in order for you to feel the impact of someone’s death. You don’t have to see blood squirting out of the exit wound in order to feel shocked. On revisiting Schindler’s List, I gotta say, the violence is a turnoff, and I tend to agree with some of those who criticized the film who said that by actually displaying in graphic detail what occurred, we internalize and accept such actions occurring, thus pushing ourselves toward being past feeling.

  161. #146 – Saints and Soldiers was the first movie that popped into my mind, but I only saw the PG-13 version.

    As for what I would claim with the Prophet next to me, isn’t it a bit harsh to assume that any of us would change our words in that instance? I know I wouldn’t, and I think David O. McKay would be fine with it – since he once ate rum cake and, when questioned, said there’s nothing in the Word of Wisdom about eating rum.

    I follow the counsel we’ve been given (the actual counsel, not the common mis-interpretation of it), so I have no qualms about it – even if Jesus were standing next to me.

  162. With me, I have always found that if I’m looking for justification to do something, I’m probably better off not doing it.

  163. That’s why it sucks to be a GA, everyone assumes they know what you think and what you would do in a particular situation. thank goodness for netflix- I don’t have anyone questioning my choice in rentals.

  164. I voted yes. I do not however believe that it is a common trend to feel the Spirit while watching rated R movies, but every now and then one comes along that makes it possible.

    It is also true that there are many other movies of more family friendly ratings that can provide good entertainment while most will also not experience the influence of the Spirit per say.

    Among my favorite movies, I think only a few are rated R and I believe they are absolute must sees for any adult with a conscience. Off the top of my head is “Glory” with Matthew Broderick and Denzel Washington.

    I think it is a great production with great acting and with a great message. I am making sure my children watch this when I deem appropriate.

    Other rated R movies every adult must see: The Passion, Song for a Raggy Boy (not released in the USA), Last of the Mohicans, Schindler’s List.

    They all address difficult subject matters and strong messages that are best conveyed with realistic imagery of the events.

    When I read books, I can visualize in my mind very well what is being described in the text (in fact I make an effort to do so in the most realistic way), and I have to agree with others here that I visualize some of the most horrific, gory and cruel imagery when reading parts of the Book of Mormon.

    The fact that there isn’t a film about some of the events in the BoM doesn’t mean the book itself can’t convey the same imagery for some of us that we would see in a very graphic rated R movie, from horrific death scenes, to war rape, to the feeding of children to parents, etc. (Moroni 9:8-10)

    I believe many of these films and the messages they convey can only make the observer gain a greater conscience, want to be a better person, and contribute to the greater good.

  165. John C. (157) FTW

  166. By the way, I think it is also worth to mention that I have noticed the rated R movies I like do not really convey the Spirit (or make you feel the Spirit) the same way a movie containing a scene of the Savior healing the sick would. There may be moments that convey those types of feelings in the movie, but it won’t be the overall spiritual feeling througout the movie.

    So, I don’t feel the warmth and peace of the Spirit while seeing the movies, but I do feel the Spirit act in me as a consequence of having watched the movie. I feel the impending need to have reverence for those who died or suffered for a cause they believed in; I feel the impending need to show love, understanding and tolerance to others. In other words, a renewed awareness and commitment to be a better person.

    Sometimes like in the case of The Passion, I feel a renewed sense of understanding how much the Savior suffered and perceive once again a glimpse of to what extent He loved all. And I think those things do come from the Spirit.

  167. Glenn Thigpen says:

    Okay, I voted no, but it is a qualified no. The reason being that I have felt very good watching parts of R rated films until the parts that got it R rated popped up. Gratuitous violence and gore, nudity, explicit sexual content, vulgar language all ruin a movie for me, no matter what the story line.
    Many PG movies are not much better. As a result, I watch very few movies in this day and time, and I don’t feel I miss much.
    I was watching a movie on LMN some time ago starring Swoozy Kurtz and Meredith Baxter. Baxter’s husband had an affair with Kurtz’s daughter. Kurtz found out, but neglected to tell her best friend, Baxter. Of course Baxter was put out some and chilled in her friendship to an unapologetic Kurtz.
    So who is finally made out to be the “problem”? Why Baxter, the one who had done nothing wrong. It seems that people commit adultery all of the time. Teen age girls have sex with older men. Friends lie. A person who otherwise is a good egg, but cannot accept lying, adultery, betrayal is the problem, not all of who are actually doing the crazy stuff.
    In other words, we have to wade through so much crap to find a few nuggets, I think it is a waste of time and we run the risk of being emotionally and spiritually damaged by the crap that we are wading through.
    Everyone has their own agency. I would much rather be safe than sorry.


  168. I had quite a powerful experience while watching Shawshank Redemption once.

  169. Regarding Book of Eli – I found the premise weak and contrived and the dialog unconvincing. However, if you look closely at the end, Eli’s bible is placed on a shelf next to Saints on the Seas, a book about Mormon pioneer journeys by boat in the 1800s. Obviously a spiritual moment.

  170. I think most people go through life trying to figure out the difference between moral conscience, emotional impressions, ideas, etc., and the Spirit. I know I am, and expect to continue doing so till the day I die.

    That said, I believe that I’ve felt the Spirit more frequently and regularly watching an R-rated movie than I have attending church meetings. Perhaps that makes me a horrible person.

    The argument about specific GA’s quotes regarding R-rated movies has lots of valid points on both sides. Personally, I doubt President Monson would be upset by the movies mentioned on here. Maybe he would be. I’m just speculating.

    Here’s my own list, a very brief one, of just a few of the many R-rated movies in which I’ve felt the Spirit.

    Andrei Rublev
    Angels in America (unrated, I believe, but would certainly receive an R)
    The Darjeeling Limited
    Gran Torino
    Grizzly Man
    Italian For Beginners
    Jesus of Montreal
    The Last Temptation of Christ
    The Lives of Others
    No Country For Old Men
    Pan’s Labyrinth
    Punch Drunk Love
    Raging Bull
    The Royal Tenenbaums
    Schindler’s List
    A Serious Man
    Short Cuts
    Three Colors Trilogy
    Time Indefinite

    Also, I’m about to go there and be a total troll, but I’m a BYU film student, and I watch R-rated movies your tithing money is paying for.

    And here’s a list of G-rated movies in which I believe I’ve felt the Spirit (not counting unrated movies).

    2001: a space odyssey
    Babette’s Feast
    The Miracle Maker
    My Neighbor Totoro
    Pinocchio (Disney)
    The Straight Story

    I’m sure there are many more movies I could add to both these lists

  171. I saw The Book of Eli, too, and didn’t think it was a good movie overall, but I love Denziel Washington and think he can carry a movie, even a really dumb one, all by himself. He has so much personal power. I loved the gentle way he said “you put that hand on me again, son, and you ain’t gonna get it back”. Very quotable line. But there were tons of things that made me say “wait a minute” including the fact that it doesn’t take 30 years to walk across the country, the Bible would certainly survive if so many people did, since there are just so many copies out there, and the fact that the world they showed was a two or three years post-apocalyptic world, not one 30 years on. There were a million other things wrong with it that caused me to break the suspension of my disbelief. Did not feel the spirit, but did feel entertained.

    Lots of R movies have made me feel the spirit through the years. I pick movies that I think are going to be good and not garbagy, but am willing to walk out if it turns out I made a mistake.

    One French movie I can think of, “Olivier, Olivier”, would have been rated X in the states, I think, but was so real and true that I felt it to be high art.

  172. Oh, and the other huge thing I felt was wrong about The Book of Eli is …. if the Bible could save the world, why didn’t it do so the first time around? I mean, we all had it, and then we messed up and destroyed everything, in the movie timeline. If it was gonna work later on, why didn’t it just work earlier? Doesn’t make sense.

    But viewed as a fairy tale, it was fine. Slightly dumb, but fine. =)

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