I recently made a post about reading 1984  and suggested watching the 1984 adaptation starring John Hurt.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen the full release (i.e., unedited), having seen it recently on a cable network that edits for content; this means that I forgot that the film contains both male and female nudity.  I saw that a commenter noted that for those who might view the film and I appreciated the reminder.  Indeed, everyone has their own standards and considerations for viewing film, and I do not wish to be responsible for anyone’s stumbling. 

One of the things that I find troubling in my own experience is that I will mention a film or even show one in class that I haven’t seen in twenty years, back before I was a father of tweens and thought about content issues differently.  I know that this happens with faculty colleagues as well; we sometimes forget the full content of a film (or, in my case, slept through parts of the movie, especially those midnight movies that were so popular when I was in college).

At the risk of offending some folks’ artistic integrity or sensitivities, I thought I would post three helpful hints for viewing films. 

  1. Check out http://www.dove.org/ for family friendly reviews.  This site is very helpful for those of us with children, especially older children where the ratings begin to get mushy.  They include evaluations of sex, language, nudity, drug use, and worldview issues.  My family checks this site routinely before heading to the theater or placing online orders.  I also recommend this site to faculty and student affairs folks to see if films being used in class or in sponsored activities might have material that will be troublesome.

  2. Check out http://www.imdb.com/ for a secular take on things, but one that often includes ratings for sex, language, and so forth in the “parents guide” near the bottom of each film’s top page.  This site is particularly helpful in that it includes almost every film ever made, including foreign films.  It also contains an unbelievable amount of information that can identify other films on similar themes that might be helpful.

  3. If you are concerned about some of the content identified above, for movies that have moved to cable, it is often possible to view edited versions that have deleted the more prurient sex / language content.   

We live in a post-literate society and film is one of our primary ways of employing narrative.  I hope that these tips will help folks to avoid the visual traps that can accompany this format; they aren’t perfect, of course, but I have found them helpful in my own life and work.

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