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Gwyneth Holston is a sacred artist who works to provide and promote good quality Catholic art. Her website is gwynethholston.com.
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The effectiveness of liturgy does not lie in experimenting with rites and altering them over and over, nor in a continuous reductionism, but solely in entering more deeply into the word of God and the mystery being celebrated. It is the presence of these two that authenticates the Church's rites, not what some priest decides, indulging his own preferences.
— Liturgicae Instaurationes (1970)

Twelve Films I Recommend to Catholic Artists
published 20 January 2014 by Gwyneth Holston

GWYN_Diary of a Country Priest Big
LTHOUGH TRULY meaningful films are few and far between, there are some that are profound on both artistic and theological levels. Most of the films on my list have subtitles and are in black and white. It takes more effort to watch these movies, but they stick with you for a long time.

Here are my favorites in no particular order. They withstand repeated viewing because of their richness and complexity. Most of them are available through the Criterion Collection.

Please comment with your recommendations!

1. Jeux Interdits (1952). Two young children cope with the idea of death on a small farm in France during WWII. This is suitable for teens and adults.

GWYN_Jeux Interdits

2. Diary of a Country Priest (1951). Excellent film adaptation of the book. A young priest is stationed in a difficult parish and all he does seems to result in failure. A visual representation of spiritual turmoil. This is suitable for all ages, but children and teens may find it incomprehensible.

GWYN_Diary of a Country Priest Small

3. The Flowers of St. Francis (1950). A series of vignettes that are of such purity and charm that they come very close to the spirit of the written version. This is suitable for all ages.

GWYN_Flowers of St Francis

4. The Seventh Seal (1957). A Swedish fantasy drama about the meaning of life. This is suitable for all ages, but I don’t think children would enjoy it.

GWYN_The Seventh Seal

5. Black Narcissus (1947). An incredible novel by Rumer Godden that follows the story of a group of Anglican nuns who attempt to found a mission in India. The intoxicating landscape attacks each of the nuns differently. This film is suitable for adults.

GWYN_Black Narcissus

6. La Grande Illusion (1937). A film by Jean Renoir that questions war via a dialogue by a cast of complex characters. Suitable for all ages, but only appreciated by adults.

GWYN_La Grande Illusion

7. The Ninth Day (2004). The story of a Priest who is on leave from a concentration camp for nine days. Each day he must converse with a young Nazi officer on the topics of good and evil. Suitable for teens and adults.

GWYN_The Ninth Day

8. The River (1951). Startlingly beautiful yet brutally unexpected film adaptation of Rumer Godden’s coming of age novel of a British girl in India. Suitable for adults.

GWYN_The River

9. The Mission (1986). Two Spanish Jesuits work in a South American mission and must defend them. Suitable for adults.

GWYN_The Mission

10. Pickpocket (1959). Interesting portrait of a man who flirts with temptation and almost loses his identity. Visually exquisite. N.B. The little girl from Diary of a Country Priest plays an adult in this film. Suitable for teens and adults.


11. Whistle Down the Wind (1961). When an injured wife murderer takes refuge on a remote Lancashire farm, the owners three children mistakenly believe him to be the Second Coming of Christ. This is suitable for children.

GWYN_Whistle Down the Wind

12. Angels with Dirty Faces (1938). A priest tries to stop a gangster from corrupting a group of street kids. This film is suitable for children.

GWYN_Angels with Dirty Faces