Communication Faculty Publications

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This thesis analyzes the story structure of two films, The Tree of Life (2011) and Courageous (2011), and their similarities and differences in storytelling and Christian themes. Using screenwriting scholar Robert McKee’s theories on story structure, this comparative analysis highlights the plot elements, conflicts, dialogue, and overall execution of the two films in order to identify their agreement or disagreement with establishing screenwriting theory. By providing a specific example of analysis between two films, this thesis provides insight as to how Christian faith can be portrayed in films produced by non-Christian and evangelical filmmakers. This insight bridges a divide in the faith-based film industry between mainstream and evangelical filmmakers seeking to ask spiritual questions in their work. In this time period in particular, as both filmmakers are finding critical and financial success with films dealing with Christian faith, this insight presents a standard for using established story structure to tell compelling spiritual stories.


Alex Kendrick, Christian film, courageous, Robert McKee, story structure, Terrence Malick, the tree of life


Thesis presented to the faculty of the School of Communication Arts of Asbury University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Master of Arts



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