About Come & See
Nope. This is really free. I wrote these devotions, and I want them to be as useful and impactful as possible. Think of this as a kind of literary art project. Once-a-week, with others is, I think, a more holistic way to watch these films and interact with this material.
No. It is not. I will never sell this list of subscribers to anyone.
Come & See is also meant to be a book. It is forthcoming. I will let subscribers know about that book when it becomes available to purchase. But purchasing the book is not necessary for receiving this subscription. These devotions will show up in your inbox week by week no matter what.
If this subscription list grows beyond what I can personally afford to maintain, and book sales alone don’t mitigate the cost, then I’ll need to figure out a way to support this project. That point would be when Come & See has over 2K subscribers. That would be a great problem to have. In that case, I would invite subscribers to weigh in on what they would prefer, be it ads, the occasional sponsored email, or some sort of patronage.
No. Come and See models a devotional response to cinema. I am a Christian, so the spiritual resources I draw from in my responses are common amongst members of the Christian faith. No matter its source, spirituality is a way of responding to the world. I hope that these devotions will inspire you to respond spiritually to these great movies in a way that is consistent with your own beliefs.
I am Elijah Davidson, a writer living in Pasadena, CA, with his family. My wife is an elementary school teacher. My son is a creator and destroyer of worlds, i.e. a toddler. My dog is an eternal puppy. In my day job, I work as the Director of Content Strategy for Fuller Seminary, and this, along with the support of my wife, makes it possible for me to pursue my vocation as a writer and as a champion of artists and the arts.
I co-direct Fuller Seminary's faith and film institute, Brehm Film, where I help plan our ongoing screening series and serve as the managing editor and senior critic for our website, Deep Focus. I am the author of How to Talk to a Movie: Movie-Watching as a Spiritual Exercise; the co-editor of the Reel Spirituality Monograph Series; and I was a key contributor to God in the Movies: A Guide for Exploring Four Decades of Film.
You can learn all these same things about be plus a little more on my website, elijahdavidson.com.
Are you sure you want to know ahead of time? It is kind of fun to not know what recommendation you are going to receive every week and to just be surprised when it arrives in your inbox.
This collection of films includes all the greatest films ever made from across history and around the world. It covers every major film genre and aesthetic movement. It includes films from every influential filmmakers. It is a thorough survey of film history.
I created this list by compiling and cross-referencing a bunch of lists of "the greatest films of all time," lists made by a variety of groups at a variety of times. I then paired that list down to get to the core group of films and filmmakers common to all lists, paying special attention to make sure I was including all major genres and movements within cinema history.
Then, I took a step back, looked at the list, and asked what was missing. The problem with a canon is that over time it tends to encourage future canonizers to repeat the biases of the past. Unsurprisingly, I noted that films made by women and films made by black filmmakers were underrepresented.
So, I did more research and found more lists of great films made by women and by black filmmakers. I compiled and cross referenced those lists and added them into my Come & See list to arrive at my final list of 250 films.
Of course, it is not totally comprehensive. No list can be. Cinema is too vast. But it is, I think, among the most comprehensive and yet approachable collections of "great films to watch" that exists. It is certainly the most comprehensive collection of interactions on great films from a Christian perspective.
You're sure you want to see the complete list? Okay. You can read it here.
No. First of all, this isn't a collection of my favorite films or even of the films I think are most worth spiritual reflection. It is a list of the movie generally regarded as important, influential, and "great" by the global community of movie-lovers—both film scholars and filmmakers—across time. In a few cases, I personally abhor what the movie supports, but that does not change how influential it has been.
It is also worth noting that the films themselves do not necessarily endorse the things they depict. Most of the time, they absolutely do not. The depiction of evil is necessary to campaign for and demonstrate its defeat. That being said, there are movies like The Birth of a Nation which champion detestable things. We will be clear-eyed about that in our devotions and respond accordingly.
How Does This Work?
Emails are sent on Sunday mornings. Whenever you sign up, you will receive a welcome email about Come & See and what to expect, and then the first devotion will arrive in your inbox on the first Sunday after that. They will continue to arrive on Sunday mornings each week until you've received all 250 of the devotions. Yes, that does mean this is an almost five year project.
The emails include links to JustWatch.com where you can see where the films are available to stream, if anywhere.
I also include a link to WorldCat.org where you can locate your local libraries. Libraries are an astounding resource for movie-lovers. If I accomplish nothing else from this project other than getting a few more people to frequent their local libraries, I’ll consider this a success.
In a few cases, I will include links to the films on YouTube. There are a few movies on this list that are otherwise entirely inaccessible due to, most often, government censorship.
The one streaming service that will serve you best is the Criterion Channel. The company specializes in internationally renowned films, and while titles do cycle on and off frequently, upwards of half of all the films in this collection are available via Criterion.
With only one exception, I wrote these devotions to be read before and after you watch the film. The devotions do not spoil the plot. Most often, the spiritual worth of the movie is in how the story is told, not in the details of the plot. Come & See “cracks open the door” to these movies so that you can enjoy them more thoroughly. After you’ve seen the film, the devotions take on greater meaning as well, because you’ll see things in what I wrote that you did not have eyes to see before.
No, the subscription cannot be paused. Once it begins, it continues until it ends or until you unsubscribe. If you unsubscribe, you cannot resubscribe where you left off. You'll have to begin again at the beginning. If you find receiving one film recommendation a week to be too much too fast, I encourage you to create a folder in your email client and archive the Come & See emails there to read at your convenience.
Also, if you miss a week (or two or three or four or ten) it isn't going to hurt your experience to pick back up and start again at whatever point you are at with the weekly emails. It is fun, I think, to purposefully expand your knowledge of film history by watching great movies chronologically, but if you're not into a certain kind of movie or even an era of film history, it's fine to wait a bit and watch again when we get back to movies you are interested in.
No. If you unsubscribe, you cannot resubscribe where you left off. You'll have to begin again at the beginning.
Every email will include a link to a dedicated Slack space where you can talk with others about the movies you are watching. Slack is free to join and, unlike other current, popular forums, messages remain visible for a good amount of time, enabling you to join and re-spark conversations at will. We encourage you to subscribe alongside a friend, so you have a go-to person to talk about these movies with, but people are subscribing all the time, so there’s always some eager to talk about the movie you just watched.
Absolutely not. The link to the Slack space will always be included in the email, but you don’t have to click it. I have found that watching and talking about movies with others adds an extra level of enjoyment and depth to my film-watching, so I wanted to facilitate a community forum for people who are interested in that, but it is not required to read and benefit from Come & See.
The Slack channel can be found here. There is also a link to it in every edition of Come & See. If you've never Slacked before, you will be prompted to create an account prior to signing in.
Simply put, Slack is a collaborative, digital workspace where team members can communicate with each other about projects. It is primarily used by businesses to separate the constant digital communication between coworkers out of email and into a centralized, searchable, and more interactive space. It has a browser view, a desktop app, and a mobile app, so you can choose the way to talk with others that best fits your preferred way of doing things on the internet.
I decided to use Slack for Come & See, because unlike other digital messenging applications, messages do not automatically expire, facilitating a kind of come-and-go-as-you-wish conversation, and the forum is dedicated to and organized around specific topics and unlikely to meander into unintended realms.
You can learn more about Slack on their website. Again, it's aimed at workplaces, but since it is project based and subscribing to Come & See with the intent of exploring film history is a project, it will be a good way to go on that journey with others.