Although we may not immediately notice them, many secular movies include hidden biblical truths within their characters or storylines. For example, movies like “The Notebook,” “The Lion King,” “The Hunger Games” series and “Wonder Woman” all contain important Biblical accounts that you may not have initially noticed. Nonetheless, these films point us and invite us to experience God through a different lens—a cinematic lens—as they remind us of His faithful nature and loving disposition. Whenever we begin to doubt God’s plans for our lives, these movies can help to put life into perspective, providing hope for the future.
1. "The Notebook"
“The Notebook” is a classic 1940s love story: Allie Hamilton falls in love with Noah Calhoun, a Southern gentleman, in the heat of the South Carolina summer. Their summer love affair is cut short when Allie moves away for college and eventually falls in love with another man. Although Allie drifted away and lost her visible love for Noah, he nonetheless relentlessly pursued her.
In the Bible, the story of the Prodigal Son reminds us that, even though individuals may be separated from one another for years, there is hope for a reunion. In the account, the youngest son of a wealthy man asks for his inheritance early. His father accepts his request, and then the son leaves home and gambles his inheritance away. Embarrassed and penniless, the son ultimately returns to his father, intending to work for him as a servant. But to his surprise, his father celebrates his son, excited for his return. In “The Notebook,” Allie leaves but then returns to Noah, who accepts her back with unconditional love.
“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found’” (Luke 15:31-32).
2. "The Lion King"
“The Lion King” is a Disney classic—full of vibrant colors and sing along songs. But have you ever noticed how closely the movie resembles the story of Moses? Simba is asked to leave the kingdom when he is accused of killing his father, Mufasa, just like Moses fled Egypt when he murdered an Egyptian overseer for beating a Hebrew slave. However, both are asked to return to free their people—one from Scar and the other from Pharaoh. Mufasa speaks to Simba through the night sky, telling him to return to Pride Rock, as the land under Scar has faced deprivation and starvation. Moses encounters a burning bush and, through which, God informs him that he needs to return to Egypt to free his people from Pharaoh’s reign. Both Simba and Moses are chosen to free those who are being enslaved—those who need to be shown the blessings and love that comes through freedom.
“The Lord said, ‘I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering… I am sending you [Moses] to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt’” (Exodus 3:7-10).
3. "The Hunger Games"
It takes one person to awaken a movement, just as Katniss evokes a full-blown revolution in Panem. “The Hunger Games” is set in a dystopian time, with 12 districts and a capital. Every year, one boy and girl from each district are selected to compete in the Hunger Games—an arena in which all contestants fight to the death.
The theme of redemption is very apparent in “The Hunger Games.” When Katniss lays down her life for her sister, Prim, by volunteering to take her place in the games, something incredible happens: she inspires a revolution. Jesus came to Earth to free His people, for whom He ultimately sacrificed His life by dying on the cross.
Katniss, without knowing the extent to which her volunteering as “tribute” would impact the trajectory of Panem’s future or whether or not she will live past the arena, willingly sacrifices herself out of love for her sister.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).
4. "Wonder Woman"
Identity is a central theme in “Wonder Woman.” Diana shows us that when we live up to our calling, we are invincible. Diana is called by the gods to defeat Ares, as the chosen one—a Christ-like figure. She does not compromise this calling, no matter what others tell her.
God is calling us to do more with our lives, and when we listen to Him, He will bless us and equip us to handle any situation that we may face.
We see this in the stories of David, Esther and Ruth—tales that remind us that with God, anything can be accomplished. For example, in the Biblical account of David and Goliath, David is called to defeat Goliath, of whom has been inflicting pain and destruction on his people in war. However, David is just a peasant boy, incredibly meek in size in comparison to his opponent: Goliath. Yet, with God’s guidance and direction, he is able to defeat Goliath, the mightiest and strongest warrior, with just stones and a slingshot. Like David, Diana, too, lives up to her calling. In the process, she learns that, even though people will always disappoint, they are still worth fighting for—because, in the end, love is what truly matters.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).