Catching Light: Looking for God in the Movies

Catching Light: Looking for God in the Movies

by Roy M. Anker
     
 

Films have come to not only entertain modern minds but also inform and shape them. Many of the best cinematic works have profound religious elements -- some obvious, some more subtle. In Catching Light Roy Anker examines nineteen popular films, showing how they convey a range of striking perspectives on the human encounter with God.

These selected films

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Overview

Films have come to not only entertain modern minds but also inform and shape them. Many of the best cinematic works have profound religious elements -- some obvious, some more subtle. In Catching Light Roy Anker examines nineteen popular films, showing how they convey a range of striking perspectives on the human encounter with God.

These selected films portray God showing up in different, surprising ways amid the messy circumstances of life. Anker looks closely at the plot of each film, especially at how characters, through their experiences, ultimately move "toward Light," toward recognition of a loving, redemptive deity.

The first section of Catching Light looks at classic 1970s films that inspect personal, social, and cultural evil: The Godfather trilogy, Chinatown, and The Deer Hunter. The second group of films depicts the ways and depths of specifically Christian notions of redemption: Tender Mercies, The Mission, Places in the Heart, and Babette's Feast. Some of the most successful films of our time have come as fairy-tale fantasies: the Star Wars saga, Superman, and three of Steven Spielberg's "lost boy" stories (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, and A.I.: Artificial Intelligence), each of which Anker interprets as a fable of search and redemption. The films in the last section of the book feature characters who, to their great surprise, are ambushed by a wholly unexpected God: Grand Canyon, American Beauty, and Three Colors: Blue.

In addition to focusing on the theological dimension of each film, Anker comments on its merits both as story and as cinema. Also included are sidebars that discuss each film's history and significance as well as the quality and special features of DVD editions. For anyone interested in the intersection of religion, art, and culture, Catching Light offers a unique view of contemporary faith.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802827951
Publisher:
Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
Publication date:
10/28/2004
Pages:
402
Product dimensions:
6.24(w) x 9.22(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Roy M. Anker teaches literature and film at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is also the author of Catching Light: Looking for God in the Movies and the two-volume Self-Help and Popular Religion in American Culture. For more information about Roy Anker, visit his website at www.royanker.com.

Table of Contents

1Utterly lost : Michael Corleone's descent in The godfather saga24
2"The design of darkness to appall" : metaphysical evil in Chinatown67
3"Just come home" : violence and redemption in The deer hunter92
4"The wings of a dove" : the search for home in Tender mercies124
5The place beyond words : image and meaning in Places in the heart143
6The laughter beyond tears : love's redemptive call in The mission162
7"In the regions of the heart" : the meeting of art and belief in Babette's feast191
8Tracking the force : meaning and morality in the Star wars saga220
9The super-man : displaying the incarnation in Superman244
10"Earth's the place for love" : the lost boy's search for home in three Steven Spielberg movies270
11Of angels and headaches : the unexpected God of Grand Canyon318
12The war of the roses : meaning and epiphany in American beauty345
13The sound of the color of love : the construction of meaning in Kieslowski's Three colors : blue364

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