Academic journal article Journal of Religion and Film

Calvary

Academic journal article Journal of Religion and Film

Calvary

Article excerpt

After the allegations of child sexual abuse against some members of the Catholic clergy, can we ever look at a priest in a film, book or television show as a blank slate again? Can we ever wonder what sort of character the priest will be, or will we immediately see the priest character as a potential pedophile? Writers and film makers have been playing with the conventions around the priest character for over 15 years, but Calvary deals with this issue head on, when a "good" priest in a small Irish town is threatened with death by one of his parishioners. What is this priest's crime? In this case, it's simply being a Catholic priest. The parishioner was sexually abused by a priest who died, and, seeking closure and payment from the Church, or perhaps God, he decides that a suitable exchange for his suffering is for a good priest to die.

The film follows the priest for this week. In typical Irish/English film dramatic comedy style, there are light moments (some of the scenes between the priest and the altar boy are priceless) and heavy ones (suicide, death, and animal abuse). As the week rounds out, we see that many people in the community are quite anticlerical. They are disillusioned with the church, and yet, still crave the priest's input and guidance. Calvary provides a good entry point into the discussion of what the modern parish might look like, and an opportunity to reflect on the role of the priest in the community as it evolves and reacts to modernity. While most of the parishioners seem to have rejected religion, and punish the priest in some way for his religiosity, they still seem to need him in order to function individually and as a community. …

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