There’s a trope in movies that we could all use: The learning montage. You lack a skill. You need to prepare. You are working for a goal. No one wants to watch anything resembling a realtime series of growth or progress, so the montage is utilized.
We all wish we had the montage in life. It shows all that growth and progress without all the slow drudgery of work. For every rabbi, a montage of high holiday prep would likely show clips of surfing the web, folding laundry, pulling books off of shelves, some staring into space, and then a shot of inspiration and a couple quick images of typing furiously before standing on the pulpit in triumph. Writing isn’t as compelling as training to fight to Apollo Creed.
If you want to just explore faith, there is no shortage of amazing films. Check out the incredible Arts & Faith Top 100 list. A film like 1928’s silent La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc (#1) or the very underrated animated film The Iron Giant (#99) powerfully speak to all kinds of faith.
When I think of films about faith, I think of Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, a documentary about the West Memphis Three and their 18 year journey towards freedom from their false incarceration (according to the film). While I never saw the earlier two films, this one stands on its own and is a fascinating watch of how to stay strong over decades of injustice.
But when you think movies and faith over the decades, you can’t leave out Rocky Balboa.