American Religious and Biblical Spectaculars


This intriguing book explores why spectacular films involving biblical figures or set in biblical times have been a staple of film-making since talkies began. Forshey looks at these films and suggests that the underlying purpose was to mediate between a monistic scientific world view and a dualistic religious world view, and between secular and religious ethics. Forshey discusses how filmic, political, religious, and cultural histories influenced filmmakers of these spectaculars. Chapter 1 differentiates between religious spectaculars and biblical spectaculars. The following chapters discuss early religious films and how the post-war and cold war eras led to a struggle to define the righteous nation. Chapters on biblical spectaculars examine films in which sex and social responsibility was a paramount concern (Samson and Delilah, David and Bathsheba). The 1960s were dominated by films about Jesus and the search for an ethical system for a world undergoing rapid social change. One entire chapter is devoted to Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments, the epitome of the biblical spectacular form, followed by a chapter on John Huston's The Bible as a culmination of the form, and a final chapter on how television rethought spectaculars and how Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ drew the battle lines between humanistic Christians and evangelical Christians. American Religious and Biblical Spectaculars will appeal to scholars of film, religion, and popular culture.

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Westport, CT
Publication year:
  • 1992


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