Religion and Film: An Introduction

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From silent films to contemporary blockbusters, religion has always proved a popular theme for the cinema. However, all too often religion and film are discussed from narrowly confessional perspectives, with the result that the field has long been dominated by the question of a film's fidelity to a religious text or worldview, or its value as a tool in ministry and mission. Religion and Film: An Introduction seeks to redress this balance, and argues for a new, holistic approach to the subject that draws on work from cultural studies, religious studies and film studies alike. Wright argues that the 'meanings' of a film are not encoded by its textual organisation, but are bound up with its interpretation by viewers in specific contexts. Focusing on religiously diverse films like The Ten Commandments, La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc, Lagaan, My Son the Fanatic, Keeping the Faith, The Wicker Man and Mel Gibson's The Passion of The Christ, the author looks at varied screen representations of religion; at films shaped by strong convictions about the place of religion in society; and at the roles that audiences play as consumers of film. The book will have strong appeal to students as well as general readers interested in all aspects of the inter-relationship of religion and the cinema.

About the Author:
Melanie J Wright is Academic Director of the Centre for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations and a Fellow of Girton College, Cambridge

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The developing field of religion and film is very new and encourages a wide range of different interests and approaches, as Melanie Wright rightly acknowledges in this substantial contribution to film and religion studies. The whole area has not yet developed very far, is something of a hodge-podge, and to a certain degree we do not yet know what we are doing. By selecting a particular systematic approach to religion and film--which incorporates an analysis of narrative, style, content and reception--Wright makes a great step forward for the whole field. Her cultural studies approach to the topic proposes a clearly defined solution to the subject's fragmentariness: a challenge that is long overdue. Moreover, the account she gives of each film that she considers is thorough, fascinating and enlightening."--William L Blizek, University of Nebraska at Omaha, and Editor of The Journal of Religion and Film
"Melanie Wright not only provides fascinating discussion of a range of important movies, but also moves the fledgling field of 'religion and film' to the next stage by drawing attention to concepts, questions and themes that undergird this exciting interdisciplinary endeavour... a must-read for anyone interested in the integral relationship between religion and film in Hollywood and beyond. It will also prove an indispendable text for undergraduates and their teachers."--Adele Reinhartz, University of Ottawa

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781850437598
  • Publisher: I. B.Tauris & Company, Limited
  • Publication date: 12/26/2006
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.72 (w) x 8.65 (h) x 0.95 (d)

Meet the Author

Melanie J Wright is Academic Director of the Centre for Jewish-Christian Relations in Cambridge and an affiliated lecturer in Divinity at the University of Cambridge.

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Table of Contents

Preface     1
Some Trends in Religious Film Analysis     11
Opening Shots     11
Motivations to Religious Film Analysis     12
On Dialogue     15
Film Selection     16
Methods of Study     20
A Proposal     22
Conclusion     30
La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc   Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1928     33
The Remarkable Story of La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc     33
Film Narrative     35
Film Style     40
Cultural and Religious Context     46
Reception     49
The Ten Commandments   Cecil B. DeMille, 1956     55
Moses at the 'Movies'     55
Screening the Scriptures     60
Why the Slaves Don't Cross the Red Sea     64
Trailing The Ten Commandments     67
Reception     71
The Wicker Man   Robin Hardy, 1973     79
To See or Not to See? The Importance of Distribution     79
Christianity as Tomorrow's Paganism?     82
Scotland the Movie     90
English Horror(s)     94
Reception and the Cult of Fandom     100
My Son theFanatic   Udayan Prasad, 1997     107
Cinema and Diaspora     107
Filming Fundamentalism     110
It's Different for Girls     117
Hit the North     119
The Burden of Representation     123
Keeping the Faith   Edward Norton, 2000     129
Reception: Once More, With Feeling     129
A Priest Walks Into a Bar...     130
Jewish/Christian Romance at the Cinema     135
A 'Women's Picture'?     138
Lagaan   Ashutosh Gowariker, 2001     143
Hooray for Bollywood     143
Seeing and Believing     148
Unity and Diversity     153
It's Not the Taking Part, It's the Winning That Counts     157
Reception     161
Conclusions     167
Notes     175
Bibliography     205
Film Index     235
Name and Subject Index     239
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