On Resurrecting Christian Cinema: A Study of James K. Friedrich's "Life of St. Paul" Series

Kanz, Andy
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Over the past few decades, there has been a growing tendency for independent Christian filmmaking to assert itself as a “wholesome” alternative to secular mainstream content, often at the expense of high-quality writing, production value, and a general appreciation of the film medium as something more than an avenue for messaging. To identify filmmaking methodologies that may aid in finding a middle ground between Hollywood and contemporary evangelical cinema, this thesis analyzes the work of one the Christian film industry’s pioneers, Reverend James K. Friedrich. As an avid lover of the movies, Friedrich dedicated his career to creating high-quality Christian films to evangelize, educate, and entertain believers and nonbelievers alike. The Life of St. Paul series (1949—1951) is generally considered the pinnacle of his work, and this thesis studies how it utilizes genre conventions, scriptural dramatic liberties, and mainstream aesthetics to bridge the gap between secular and evangelical cinema.