The Movies and America

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Why do we enjoy talking about good films so much? Many reasons come to mind: because we like a good story, an engaging character, a trip to an exotic land or place that can take us out of ourselves for a few hours and give us an experience that stretches us as people.

But movies also help us to recognize the problems our society faces and the benefits it enjoys, and they give us a platform to discuss these with friends, fellow workers, and even strangers on a bus. Recognizing the power of film as a significant shaper of American society has become a commonplace in cultural discussion in the last half century.

This popular lecture, delivered annually for more than 15 years in a variety of church, school, and other public settings, seeks to understand this phenomenon. Dr. Trotter makes a case for the Academy Award nominees for best picture as both a barometer of, and an influence on, current American moral and intellectual standards. He looks at common themes expressed in these and other films of the year and relates those ideas to societal norms and questions present in America today.