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Apr 2, 2014

Captivated ~ A Film Review

Webster's 1828 Dictionary defines convicted as "proved or determined to be guilty, either by verdict of a jury or by the decision of conscience."  Have you ever had a feeling of conviction about something and tried to ignore it?  It tends to come up often.  *Really* often.  Let's just say, when the opportunity to review the DVD Captivated: Finding Freedom in a Media Captive Culture, a documentary film about the use of media in our society, I may have had pretty ambivalent feelings about it.

Captivated Movie Review

Captivated takes a powerful look at how pervasive the various forms of media are in the typical person's every day life.  Media Talk 101 founder and the film's co-director Phillip Telfer has pulled together a think tank of assorted Christian experts, including church leaders, authors, researchers, professors, and media experts.  Captivated has won these awards.
  • 2013 Gold Crown Award for Best Documentary at the International Christian Visual Media Conference
  • 2013 Best Documentary at the GloryReelz Christian Film Festival
  • 2013 Official Selection at the Midwest Christian Inspirational Indie Film Festival
  • 2012 Best Documentary Runner-Up at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival
  • 2012 Best of Festival Finalist at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival

Captivated Movie Review

I received the DVD, which is priced at $16.95 for one.  At the time of this post, you can purchase a second copy of the DVD for $5 and receive free shipping.  A 54-page companion study guide is also available, though I have not seen that.

This movie is intended for adults, but has been approved for all ages.  The main feature is 107 minutes long.  The special features section includes over two more hours of extended interviews.

After watching it twice, I spent a lot of time thinking about other people who might benefit from viewing this film.  I think that most families would find it a real eye-opener.  Many of my closer, local friends also homeschool and, I think, use media in a more discerning way than some mainstream families.  We live in busy times, with busy parents shuttling and caring for busy children.  Sometimes, it's easier to just turn on the TV so the kids will leave. you. alone. just so you can fix dinner.  With the three littles at home, I completely get that.  And that's where discernment comes in.  I'm hesitant to name or judge shows based on my personal preferences, but I think we can all agree that some shows have more merit than other shows.

I invited some of my mom friends over to view this documentary with me.  We were an intimate group in the end, but we enjoyed some wonderful, deep conversation. And snacks.  One of the things we discussed was how even seemingly innocuous shows are changing what is viewed as normal.  Shows about hoarders help us feel better about ourselves and our stashes of stuff.  "At least we aren't that bad!"  (Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. Matthew 6:19)  House hunting shows where people go in with a budget and let the realtor show them homes outside of that budget, and they proceed to choose the most expensive home, make us think that budget isn't necessary.  It's OK to spend big if the house is "almost perfect" and then we struggle to make ends meet to pay for the home we couldn't afford.  (The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender. Proverbs 22:7)  These things weren't directly addressed in the film, but I think are directly related to the discernment message that is used. 

Personal testimonies, from families and individuals who have been affected by various forms of media addiction, are featured prominently.  The accounts of "unplugging" and the freedom and free time they found were inspiring.  While I love this quote from the website, "This ministry is not anti-media, or anti-technology. We are pro-discernment and pro-wisdom. Today's media have a powerful influence on our culture for good or for bad. We want to be part of the influence for good, and more importantly, part of the influence for God." I thought the documentary definitely leaned somewhat toward a completely anti-media feel.  However, the extended interviews felt much more balanced.  I recommend taking the time to watch the bonus features.

Due to time constraints, I was unable to share the extended interviews with my friends.  It's a shame more of the interviews couldn't have been included in the feature as they had some of what I felt was the best information.  I particularly enjoyed hearing about the research being done by Dr. Dimitri Christakis, Director of Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development, Seattle Children's Hospital Research Foundation.  One point he made was that media does not unilaterally affect all children the same way as all media are not the same and all children are not the same.  However, violent media *does* desensitize all children, even babies.  This desensitization leads to increased risk taking (violence, drugs, and alcohol, for instance).

I found this film to be quite fascinating and I applaud its creators for putting it together.  I'd also like to thank the families and individuals who bared and shared their hearts for their segments.  There is real value in this film for all families.  Captivated would make a great group study for youth and adult church groups.  While Christian and secular families could benefit from the message in the film, I did think that some viewers might not relate to the families sharing about their decisions to partake in a media fast.

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Twitter: @CaptivatedMovie

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