Christian moviemakers opt for black cast after glut of whitewashed Bible films
A flood of faith films led many to dub 2014 “The Year of the Bible,” but it was also a year of the status quo in Hollywood. The movie industry has a long history of casting white actors to play African and Middle Eastern Bible characters, so seeing the Welshman Christian Bale play Moses or Australian Russell Crowe play Noah or even a Portuguese actor play Jesus in “Son of God” felt to many like the opposite of racial progress. But religious audiences can witness a stark departure from this troubling trend when “War Room” hits theaters on August 28.
The fifth feature film produced by successful Christian moviemakers by Alex and Stephen Kendrick tells a story about the power of prayer. But it does so with an almost entirely African-American cast, including New York Times bestselling Christian author, Priscilla Shirer, in her movie debut.
RNS deserves credit for spotting and reporting on a rather daring film. But which is the daring part? Showing blacks in a favorable light, during a time of racial tension? Or suggesting that prayer can heal and motivate people to reconcile, during a time of falling faith?