Religion in Film

  • Author(s): May, John R., and Michael Bird, eds.
  • Series:
  • Imprint: Univ Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 1982-09-30
  • Status: Active
  • Available in Paper: Price $24.00 | Buy Now

This carefully edited collection of essays explores, in greater diversity and depth than has been attempted before, the relationship between film and religion. Combining perspectives from traditional film criticism and from religious studies, Religion in Film asserts that it is no longer possible to view films simply in terms of their moral impact, nor is it reasonable to limit religious meaning only to those films that make and explicit appeal to religious elements.
The essays offer a variety of theoretical reflections on the religious interpretation of film, explore particular cinematic variations on the archetypal images of savior and demon, analyze significant cultural trends of a religious nature related to film, and assess thirteen sensibilities – Altman, Bergman, Bunuel, Chaplin, Coppola, Fellini, Hitchcock, Jutra, Kubrick, Peckinpah, Russell, Truffaut, and Wertmuller. The contributors provide a firm basis for analysis while respecting a variety in interpretation.

As the overall structure of the book leads from the universal to the particular, from theory to individual directors and films, so its concern with religious interpretation flows naturally from the universally religious to particular religious worldviews. Among world religions, Christianity claims attention in proportion to its dominant cultural influence in the West where film has more obviously flourished.

The insights and interpretations presented in these essays will be of importance to cinema scholars, film critics, and students of religion and of interest to film buffs, particularly those who are sensible of the religious dimension of films.

John R. May is professor of English at Louisiana State University and is most recently the author of The Parables of Lina Wertmuller (Paulist Press, 1977) and Film Odyssey: The Art of Film as Search for Meaning (Paulist Press, 1976).

Michael S. Bird is associate professor of religious studies at Renison College, University of Waterloo, Canada.