Gareth Higgins’ How Movies Helped Save My Soul: Finding Spiritual Fingerprints in Culturally Significant Films does much more than review popular movies. If you are looking for a “thumbs-up, thumbs-down” type of resource you may want to look elsewhere. Instead, this book does a great job of training the readers how to find these spiritual fingerprints in films for themselves. Like other titles from Relevant Books, there is no attempt to push a spiritual agenda into an area where one does not really exist. It simply illuminates that these “fingerprints” are everywhere. Gareth shows us that one of the best places available to find these sacraments is in the cinema.
Each chapter in the book is structured around a theme, such as “war”, “brokenness” or “quest”. Its open-ended style reads like a conversation that begs for your interaction. I found myself thinking of films I would want to include in each section. While I appreciated Gareth’s observations of the films he reviews I think his insights into the human conditions he addressed in each chapter were the real strength of this book. Instinctively I know that there is more to a film than what I see on the screen but Gareth made me conscious of new depths, even in movies I thought I understood. He explores some transcendent themes with immanence perhaps only movies can allow for. The author’s great sense of humor is reflected throughout and makes this book that much more enjoyable to read.
With the medium of film being discussed, I would have liked to have seen some pictures from some of the films Gareth mentions. That is a minor complaint, but the only one I can find with this book. This would be a great book to give as a gift to anyone who goes to the movies. After reading it you will find yourself watching films in a new way. I recommend it highly.