Film and Religion

Overview

How major-release films use religion to tell stories and convey messages

Focusing on American major-release films since World War II, the authors show how films use religious imagery, characters, and symbolism from primarily Christian, but also, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, and Islamic traditions. Ideal for classroom use, each chapter analyzes significant contextual issues through the lens of select films. The authors post their ongoing ideas in ...

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Overview

How major-release films use religion to tell stories and convey messages

Focusing on American major-release films since World War II, the authors show how films use religious imagery, characters, and symbolism from primarily Christian, but also, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, and Islamic traditions. Ideal for classroom use, each chapter analyzes significant contextual issues through the lens of select films. The authors post their ongoing ideas in their blog at http://filmandreligion.blogspot.com.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Is there such a thing as too much historical context? Flesher and Torry, both academics, make an important point at the start of these loosely confederated essays about the religious themes of American major-release films since World War II: that it is crucial to understand films in the historical context in which they were written and released. Fair enough, but the execution can be clunky and obvious: historical overviews about religion in America could be more seamlessly integrated into the much better discussions of various films, ranging from the overtly religious (The Last Temptation of Christ; The Ten Commandments; Little Buddha) to the prophetically spiritual (Field of Dreams; Close Encounters of the Third Kind). The book is worth it for the film discussions, because whether they are analyzing supernatural horror flicks like The Exorcistand The Omenor dissecting the surprising Hindu themes latent in The Legend of Bagger Vance, Flesher and Torry often have valuable and incisive observations about the ways films both reflect and shape religious culture. Though of use primarily for the college classroom (and with a teacher's preface to this end), serious students of film and religion will discover interpretive nuggets. (June)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

This college textbook is based on the notes of the authors' Film and Religion course at the University of Wyoming and was developed before subject guides were available. Flesher (religious studies) and Torry (English & American studies) examine 66 major American secular and religious films from the 1950s onward that reflect this country's culture, politics, and place on the world scene. While some 500 English-language titles have been published on religious aspects of motion pictures, this text uniquely applies the six rules of Targum (strict rules for translating scripture). From the Cold War to interpretations of Jesus, evangelism, and sports, the authors analyze how films—e.g., Ben-Hur(1959), The Passion of the Christ(2004)—use religion and mirror historical and cultural issues. (They post their ongoing ideas in their blog.) Suggested readings follow each of the 15 themed chapters, but there is no general bibliography or index. Recommended for academic or special collections supporting film studies for its unique approach in using traditional targumic analysis while permitting flexibility within another medium.
—Anna M. Donnelly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780687334896
  • Publisher: Abingdon Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 306
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Torry is Associate Professor of English and adjunct in American Studies and Religious Studies. He teaches Film and Popular Culture; American Literature.

Paul V. M. Flesher is professor of Religious Studies at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyoming.

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