“I've always regarded movie going as kind of a religious experience.“
~ Leonard Maltin
Prayer in Hollywood movies.
Hollywood, Teach Us to Pray offers a roller coaster ride through American film history, highlighting the inclusion of prayers in movie narratives, as plot turning points (African Queen), spiritual weapons (Election), cultural markers (It’s a Wonderful Life), dramatic tour de forces (Bad Times at the El Royale), comedy (Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Talladega Nights), westerns (Pale Rider and Rooster Cogburn) and traces of transcendence (Tree of Life). People of all races, genders, ethnic groups, ages, economic status, and spiritual conditions talk, shout, whisper, haggle, cry, sing, and wrestle with God.
One finds the efficacy of prayers in films even more remarkable, as a Brown/Fraser study demonstrated that God seems to answer over 80% of movie prayer requests. Perhaps no other ritual exposes the deep needs and longings of the human heart, or its hopes and joy. Cinematic prayers dot the landscapes of western, horror, science fiction, musical, dramatic, and comedy films and each one resonates with audiences in enduring ways.
With interviews with directors like Robert Benton, Michael Schultz, and David Anspaugh, critics like Justin Chang and Leonard Maltin, and religious personalities like Father James Martin, Professor Robert Johnston, and Sister Helen Prejean, Hollywood, Teach Us to Pray opens the windows of cinema to the heavens.