Screen Christologies: Redemption and the Medium of Film

Screen Christologies: Redemption and the Medium of Film

Screen Christologies: Redemption and the Medium of Film

Screen Christologies: Redemption and the Medium of Film


This volume looks at the ways in which the Christian concept of redemption has been represented in film. Concentrating on film noir and the work of Martin Scorsese, the book argues that the characteristic themes of noir confront religious issues.


In this book I examine the manner in which a process of redemption analogous to that located in Christian thought is operative through the 'secular' medium of film.

At the crux of my work lies a consideration of why the category of film noir constitutes a fertile site of redemptive significance. I demonstrate that the oppressive and fatalistic images and narratives delineated in such films bear witness to what the Christian tradition categorizes as the basic human condition, and from which redemption constitutes a vital possibility.

Particular consideration is given in this light to the cinema of Martin Scorsese, whose often alienated and dysfunctional noir protagonists may be seen to undergo a process of being redeemed, reborn and resurrected through violence, destruction (often self-destruction) and a confrontation with the propensity towards sin that characterizes human existence.

I suggest that the noir protagonist is a model or exemplar of redemptive possibility in the manner of the Christian understanding of the Person of Christ. For Christ's own redemptive significance, according to the Antiochene christological tradition, emanates not from his divine, transcendent qualities as the Son of God but from his inherently human and fallible condition as the Son of Man.

The prevalence of redemptive motifs in films noirs opens up the possibility that the medium of film is a significant conveyor and agency in contemporary western society of religious hopes and values. The significance this has for the academic study of religion, which has traditionally eschewed the popular media as a serious repository of religious activity, is considerable, and, I suggest, warrants a radical and new evaluation of contemporary religiosity.

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