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The Berean Call: June 11, 2018

Movies are today's most popular means of influencing cultures on a worldwide scale. They have been effective in that way for the greater part of a century. They are, and always have been, teaching machines.

Although most people regard them as simply escapist fare or a mode of entertainment, they nevertheless always teach something. That fact became shockingly clear to me in my pre-Christian days when I was in Iran as a screenwriter on a Hollywood production. The time was just prior to the overthrow of the Shah in 1979. The revolution was literally ignited by Muslim clerics who had ordered their followers to set fire to movie theaters (packed with audiences). It was a protest to the teaching and influence of Western culture contained in the films, particularly the immorality and degenerate conduct displayed. With obviously less drastic reactions and consequences, no place seems to be out of the reach of the influence of movies no matter where one travels these days.

That is certainly true of one of the most expensive films to date, the quarter-of-a-billion-dollar production of Avatar, which has already grossed 2 billion dollars. No film thus far has matched its stunning production value in creating a fantastic world of computer-generated characters that seamlessly match and interact with the physical actors and the world we know. Believability is the "do or die" quality of every movie of any kind, and Avatar makes believers of all but the most critical film goers – few of whom could complain that the extraordinary production did not give them their money's worth.

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