Movies/Scenes Representing Conversion/Transformation

bullet Changing Lanes (2002)
  • Changing Lanes contains themes of revenge, the evil inside each of us, the need for forgiveness & conversion. It tells the tale of 2 ordinary men (Ben Affleck, a Wall Street lawyer & Samuel L. Jackson, a recovering alcoholic struggling to keep his family together) who enter a vortex of retaliation because of a car accident between the 2 of them. It is an exceptionally complex & interesting portrayal of how any of us might be tempted into extreme measures. Conversion only takes place when each of the men sees the other as a person, moving from extreme self-centeredness into the reality of the other. The movie is replete with symbolism (Christian & other..light & dark, lots of rain & water) and has William Hurt as S. Jackson's AA sponsor as the voice of his conscience. He tells Gibson (Jackson's character) that he has violated the human covenant & later, tells him that chaos (not alcohol) is his drug of choice. (Deborah G. Seles)
bullet John Q (2002)
  • This movie depicts the plight of a father (Denzel Washington) willing to lay down his life for his son and therefore should be cross-referenced under Abraham and Issac and Cross and Resurrection in the sense of the suffering of God through the evil of Jesus death. As a social commentary, it pricks our conscience about a society with medical services for those who can afford them and death for those who cannot. As redemptive drama, it also shows the metanoia or reversal of thinking in several characters who broker the power of the HMO medical system but in the end ultimately side with the powerlessness of John Q. and his son. (Dr. Barry A. Woodbridge, Orangethorpe Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Fullerton, CA)
bullet The Shipping News (2001)
  • Great movie on transformation, resurrection, clinging to the past, resisting transformation . . .Main character has experience of "drowning" in childhood with uncaring father that effects his life, is able to find new life in new place, is able to see how the past gets "drug" into everything and finally how to break free of that past. Great moive on so many themes. I plan to buy it for my collection. Watch it! (Rebecca Herring)
bulletThe Widow of Saint-Pierre (2000)
  • Neel Auguste, convicted of murder and awaiting execution, changes his life. (Darrel Manson, Artesia Christian Church, Artesia, CA)
bulletRemember the Titans (2000)
  • Both the white team members and the black team members experienced a conversion, a transformation of their opinions regarding the others, once they were forced to get to know each other as persons (not members of another race) when they went off for their preseason practice/ retreat. (Roy Stuyvesant)
bulletChocolat (2000)
  • The Count De Reynaud (the mayor of the city and control freak about town), after the Easter Sermon and the chocolate festival in the town square after church, was "strangely released". For him, everything was changed. He no longer saw his job as ridding the town of immorality and any threat to tranquility and tradition. (Carla Thompson Powell, Livonia, MI)
bulletMy Dog Skip (2000)
  • Willie's dad.
bulletErin Brockovich (2000)
  • "Erin Brockovich" is essentially a film about empowerment. A mother of three children is unemployed and has no source of income. She decides that she has to find a job at all costs. In her work at a small law firm, she discovers that she has very little respect from the other employees. She comes to believe that the women of the firm are jealous of her physical attributes when she is asked to change to more appropriate work clothing. She dreams of one day having a job where she is respected for what she brings to her position. She dreams of being viewed as a person of integrity. As the story unfolds, Erin develops a friendship with her boss that only strengthens with time because of her hard work and determination to do a good job. He strongly affirms Erin with several votes of confidence. As Erin works on her case, she receives acceptance from her co-workers gradually and also from those whom she wants to sign the petition. She also is required to show some great courage when she receives some threats to her family. Her case in a small California town that is plagued by bad water requires endurance from her and from her children and boyfriend/neighbor. The film depicts a journey of self-discovery for Erin. She finds that there are many obstacles that she must overcome, including dealing with the tension of not being with her children as much as she would like when she is working on her project for the town. The tension between working and not working is a strong one for Erin, who does not have the benefits of child support for her three children. As she gains the trust of the town, a sense of community between these people develops. They begin to understand that all of their medical problems are interconnected and that by joining together as one community they have a greater chance of achieving their goals. At the end of the film, Erin shows great joy at her accomplishments as a  person in the working world (not to give away the ending). (Valerie Lyson Humphreys, Independence MO)
bulletThree Kings (1999)
  • The American soldiers are converted from their greed to become people who are willing to sacrifice their own freedom for the freedom of others. Through this sacrifice, they understand true freedom.
bulletThe Deep End of the Ocean (1999)
  • The decision of the boy who had been kidnapped to return to his "real family" is powerful . Issues of free choice versus coercian are strong here and have some application to some of our methods of evangelism versus God's love which is great enough and unselfish enough to give us free choice. (Marie Loewen)
bulletDouble Jeopardy (1999)
  • Travis (by implication) is encouraged by Libby's determination and acts like the law professor he'd wanted to be.
bulletAmerican Beauty (1999)
  • "...the catalyst to Lester's transformation from a nearly dead sad sack to a liberated man who is not afraid to express his emotions comes in the form of Angela, a blonde teenage cheerleader." 
bulletSunshine (1999)
  • The movie "Sunshine" contains a good conversion theme, although it does not work the way one might expect.  Members of a Hungarian Jewish family convert to Christianity thinking it will help them integrate into society.  They remain targets and outcasts.  In the end the surviving member changes his name back into it's Jewish form.  He realizes that he must be himself. (Michael Clark, Hamilton, Canada)
bulletDogma (1999)
  • "Smith posits a God who has gone through a process of change and transformation from the vengeful, patriarchal God of old, to the more merciful, playful, and feminine God represented by Alanis Morissette." ("Dogma: Kevin Smith's Sacred Satire," by Christianity Guide Charles Henderson, at About.Com.)
bulletPatch Adams (1998)
  • What about Patch Adams as an example of conversion? He moves from seeing himself as the center of the universe to helping others--from dis-ease to health in this way. (Bob Ferguson)
bulletPleasantville (1998)
  • Pleasantville is a place in which people literally have to learn to live "in colour" . Each one is transformed by discovering the passion within them which has been repressed in order to maintain the black and white "status quo". It seemed to me that this has a lot to say to us about the ways in which we respond to Christ's offer of "Life in all its fullness" and are transformed into richer individuals and churches and societies by a risky and sometimes frightening process. The changes in us are not always welcomed by others, just as those who were transformed and healed by Christ were persecuted. The scene where the Dad comes home and finds his wife not there and no dinner anywhere is an achingly accurate picture of the bewilderment of those who demand that Christ tells the crowds not to cheer him as he enters Jerusalem. Those who don't welcome this growth seek out the security of old bastions. "We are safe for the moment because we are in the bowling alley" comments the mayor. Can our churches sometimes be black and white bastions against growth , rather than colourful invitations to life? (Anne Gordon)
bulletA Civil Action (1998)
  • "I preached on Elisha today - very powerful text (Epiphany 5B) and as I was driving home I realized the the movie A Civil Action follows the thread of the Elisha story as I laid it out. The transformation from distance and arrogance to connection and compassion and the transformation of Elisha in this, like the transformation of the John Travolta character. Another movie that follows this theme of transformation through entering into relationship is Schindler's List. (Edie Bird, Fayetteville, Arkansas)
bulletAmerican History X (1998)
  • Derek's conversion from being a skinhead figurehead.
bullet The Mask of Zorro (1998)
  • Diego calls a thief to take his place and save the peasants from oppression, by being transformed. (submitted by Bill Mosley, Frelsburg TX)
  • In any Zorro - Diego's father calls him home because there is trouble, but how is he to fight it? By being transformed! (Bill Mosley, Frelsburg TX)
bullet The Apostle (1997)
  • Pentecostal pastor Eulis "Sonny" Dewey happens upon a car accident. Taking his Bible with him, he approaches one of the cars and finds an apparently dead young woman and a dying young man (a boy, really). Sonny tells the boy that it looks too late for his companion and that the boy himself might be slipping away as they speak. He says that Jesus is waiting so that the boy, whether he lives or dies, can have eternal life in heaven. He asks the boy if he wants that. The boy nods in assent. Sonny asks the boy if he is ready to follow Jesus for the rest of his life, whether his life were to last for years or just for a few minutes. The boy again nods. Sonny leads him in prayer while kicking away a police officer who is telling him that he isn't supposed to be there. Sonny gets back into his car and tells his mother that they won one for Jesus. (David K. Miller)
  • Pentecostal pastor Eulis "Sonny" Dewey learns that his wife is sleeping with his youth pastor (or associate pastor, I don't recall). Under the influce of alcohol, Sonny hits the younger pastor with a baseball bat, knocking him to the ground, where he stays. Sonny leaves town, running from the consequences of his actions. In a small tent that night, he fasts and prays. The next morning he baptizes himself, renaming himself The Apostle E.F. I noticed that he baptized himself twice: once in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost and once in the name of Jesus. (David K. Miller)
  • Pentecostal pastor Eulis "Sonny" Dewey, using the name The Apostle E.F., starts an interracial church in a small town. While the new church is having a picnic, a local man drives a bulldozer onto the church grounds with the intent of demolishing the church. E.F. talks the man from the bulldozer, convincing him that he doesn't have to lash out at people in violence. The man breaks down weeping and E.F. leads him to accept Jesus as his savior. (David K. Miller)
  • Pentecostal pastor Eulis "Sonny" Dewey, using the name The Apostle E.F., after having started an interracial church in a small town preaches his last sermon there. A young mechanic who had helped E.F. start the church responds to the altar call, deciding to give his life completely to Jesus. (David K. Miller)
bulletAs Good As It Gets (1997)
  • Jack Nicholson's character in As Good As It Gets.
bulletThe Game (1997)
  • At the climax of The Game, Nicholas decides not to kill himself, but rather to give himself for others, and he is a new person.
bulletPulp Fiction (1994)
  • Jules Winnfield: There's a passage I got memorized. Ezekiel 25:17. "The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you." I been sayin' that [s___] for years. And if you ever heard it, it meant your [a__]. I never really questioned what it meant. I thought it was just a cold-blooded thing to say to a [m____] before you popped a cap in his [a__]. But I saw some [s__] this mornin' made me think twice. Now I'm thinkin': it could mean you're the evil man. And I'm the righteous man. And Mr. .45 here, he's the shepherd protecting my righteous [a__] in the valley of darkness. Or is could by you're the righteous man and I'm the shepherd and it's the world that's evil and selfish. I'd like that. But that [s__] ain't the truth. The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin, Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd.
bulletNatural Born Killers (1994)
  • Ironically, it is Mickey and Mallory Knox who break through the cycles of violence and stop killing. They go on to live in the underground without perpetuating the violence in our society.
bullet Groundhog Day (1993)
  • "Breaking Free from the Past": Really good clips with Phil Conners talking to Rita in the cafe about living the same day over and over also talking to two guys at a bowling alley about being stuck in one place and not knowing what to do. Some great humorous scenes (five) of seeing Ned Ryerson repeatedly and having to remember is past. (Mike Simpson)
bulletShadowlands (1993)
bulletSchindler's List (1993)
  • Schindler's change in character from one who only wants to serve himself to one who sacrifices his safety and wealth for others.
  • Another movie that follows this theme of transformation through entering into relationship is Schindler's List. (Edie Bird, Fayetteville, Arkansas)
bulletPhiladelphia (1993)
  • In Philadelphia the lawyer played by Denzel Washington gradually changes from being homophobic to acceptance of Andrew and his community (Mike Clark, Hamilton, Canada)
bulletThe Fisher King (1991)
  • Jack's change in character from a self-absorbed person to one who would go on a "meaningless" quest in order to save another.
bulletThe Rapture (1991)
  • The Rapture -- made probably in early 90's; with David Duchovny and Tom Cruise's first wife. Extremely racy (near X-rated) at the beginning, but worth getting through. Tells of an woman who has a religious conversion and who awaits the Rapture -- and when it doesn't happen the way she believes Scripture says it will, she turns her back on God. Makes you think a whole lot about eternal salvation, and what really happens at the end of life,and just what is eternal damnation, and how far does our free will go.
bullet Dances With Wolves (1990)
  • Lt. John J. Dunbar is "converted/transformed" into Dances With Wolves by learning a new language, learning new stories, and learning to tell his story in a new way.  This is very much how Jesus trained the first disciples and how today's disciples are most fruitfully  transformed.   The Gospel story is the story that claimed us before we knew we didn't have a story. (paraphrased from Dr. Stanley Hauerwas by Jon/Holly Stouffer)
bulletRain Man (1988)
  • Charlie Babbit learns to care for his autistic brother, and thus learns to care for others.
bulletBabbette's Feast (1987)
  • The change in character/attitude in the guests during the meal.
bulletOverboard (1987)
  • Goldie Hawn plays a spoiled rich woman, Kurt Russel a single parent carpenter / commoner. She abuses him in the beginning as lower than whale feces while he reinvents the closet on her yacht to accomodate her superfluous wardrobe. He kind of dreams about her (she is beautiful) but her jarring rudeness is more for even lust to overcome in fantasy, I think. She gets thrown overboard during a party at night (by accident) and strikes her head. Kurt Russel finds her and tells her she's his wife, mother of three boys (the boys cooperate). She can't believe it, of course, but ultimately learns to love and respect this odd lot family she's now a part of (unwillingly). Kurt (who never takes advantage of her, as far as I can remember) finally tells her (I think, or someone else does and he was going to). The rest is vague. I suppose she storms back to her yacht, absolutely can't stand to live without him and the kids, and rushes back into his arms when he and the kids show up to say they can't live without her. (Rev. Michael Phillips, Berwick, Pennsylvania)
  • First, it wasn't during a party that she was thrown overboard, it was while trying to retrieve her jewelry left on deck earlier that day. (She lost the gold and gained a life?) Most important -- her husband came back to get her (after he had stranded her in the hospital months before), and she got her memory back in a flash. She went off with him back to the yacht, but with her experiences as a poor mother of 4 fresh in her mind, she realized how selfish and superfluous her former life (and her mother, husband and shrink) all were, and told the captain to turn the ship around. A battle with her husband ensued, and, with Kurt Russell and the kids following in a coast guard yacht (courtesy of some friends), she was close, but not close enough to go back to the poor life, the one with values. Kurt Russell jumps overboard, then Goldie Hawn jumps overboard, and they end up together in a life raft, and it all ends happily ever after. SHE changed, and that's what makes the story a valid one for it's place in this directory. (Sharon Pajak)
  • Rich woman treats workers like dirt, falls overboard and loses her memory, worker rescues her and tells her she is his wife and mother of his kids. She gets attached to them all, gets her memory back. (Ann K. Fontaine)
bulletPlaces in the Heart (1984)
  • Change in Mr. Will's character from being self-centered and obsessed with his disability and sacrifice, to caring for others and becoming part of the community.
bulletStar Wars (1977)
  • The change in Han Solo's character as he follows those who trust The Force.
bulletHow the Grinch Stole Christmas (television, 1966)
  • The grinch's heart grows three sizes and breaks the scope that was measuring his heart. (David K. Miller)
bulletThe Music Man (1962)
  • Harold Hill undergoes a conversion. He's got "The Power" to really do what he thinks he's only hyping; what he's lacking is the confidence that he can really do it and of course an ounce or two of ethical formation. And then the town starts to love him not because of the quality of his product but because it's their own kids playing the instruments. So the town undergoes some sort of conversion too. They both experience some sort of Grace. (Sterling Bjorndahl)
bulletA Christmas Carol (1938)

Index of Movie Titles

Index of Movie Themes