Films are one of the most influential forms of art in our culture today. Some argue that movies can change our behavior, laws, ideology, or even the course of history. This may be concerning to Christians, since Hollywood is often criticized for being too liberal or anti-Christian. But upon taking a closer look, you can find truth in films even where you would least expect it. Here are seven films that—below the surface—embrace a positive message of entrepreneurship and economic freedom that Christians can proudly stand behind.
1. Robin Hood
“Steal from the rich to give to the poor” may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Robin Hood, but this motto is completely absent in Ridley Scott’s 2010 Robin Hood. This version portrays the government as coercive while presenting the possibility of a society without taxes. Robin Hood recognizes more taxes means more poverty, which may cause viewers to question the government’s role in caring for the poor as opposed to the role of the Church.
2. A Bug’s Life
Flik is a creative and innovative ant who lives in an ant colony ruled by tyrannical grasshoppers. The grasshoppers, led by Hopper, arrive every season to demand food from the ants. Fed up with the oppressive and feudal lifestyle, Flik takes it upon himself to liberate his colony by befriending a group of circus bugs that he convinces to stand up to the grasshoppers. A Bug’s Life embraces the entrepreneurial spirit and the dignity of the individual.
3. Jurassic Park
Dr. Ian Malcom, Jeff Goldblum’s character, insists that even though all the dinosaurs in the park are female, “life finds a way.” This offers an interesting parallel to innovation in a free market. Man thinks they have the dinosaurs completely under control, but by the end of the movie, nature does find a way. The prehistoric beasts reproduce and run wild, reminding us that we cannot fully wrap our minds around God’s often unpredictable design. We are often incapable of controlling outcomes with our limited human knowledge, even in the market.
4. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
The Shire is orderly and lawful, yet has no visible government. The hobbits seem to enjoy complete freedom, while following the natural law that they attribute to the distant and unknown king. The dignity of work is a powerful theme throughout the trilogy as well. The dwarves spend time crafting fine things; work is cherished rather than despised. The scouring of the Shire is less of a message on economic progress as it is a message against activity that destroys and exploits. For example, the dwarves are not faulted for seeking to mine and fashion jewels, but they are faulted for a lust for gold. This film serves as a great message that hard work and virtue are required to sustain a free and flourishing market.
After losing their jobs at Columbia University, a parapsychologist trio starts a successful paranormal exterminator service. But the Ghostbusters are soon arrested by a lawyer with the Environmental Protection Agency for operating an unlicensed nuclear device. He orders their ghost containment grid to be deactivated, which unleashes hundreds of ghosts into the city. Ghostbusters praises innovation and entrepreneurship while highlighting that unintended consequences of burdensome government regulation are often devastating.
In this 2010 sci-fi film, Saito wants to implant an idea into Robert Fischer’s mind that will cause him to break up his father’s company. But in doing so, Saito is violating Fischer’s property rights (his mind) in a coercive attempt to control his actions through inception. This film challenges us to reevaluate the danger in attempts to control market outcomes through private property violation. It helps us understand that no human being or system, no matter how intelligent, can ever “play God” and positively control individuals or market outcomes.
Though some think Avatar sends a message of environmental extremism, there’s a message about property rights that most moviegoers have overlooked. It can be argued that the film doesn’t necessarily make the case that the destruction of the Na’vi’s forest was bad in itself. The destruction was bad because the Na’vi, who claimed the forest as their property, found value in its preservation. The destruction by invaders represents a violation of property rights. Since both “tree-huggers” and “greedy capitalists” can abuse the God’s creation, Avatar can teach us that property rights are the key to sustaining the natural resources needed for wealth creation and human flourishing.
Do you notice a pro-market message in other films? Leave your comments here.