Journal of Religion and Film

Articles from Vol. 21, No. 1, April

Amar Akbar Anthony: Bollywood, Brotherhood, and the Nation
Review of William Elison, Christian Lee Novetzke, and Andy Rotman, Amar Akbar Anthony: Bollywood, Brotherhood, and the Nation (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016).In a now-classic article from 1985, Rosie Thomas urged writers to take popular...
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (2017), dir. Bonni Cohen and Jon ShenkTen years after An Inconvenient Truth (2006), we see the continued denial of the scientific evidence for climate change by those who benefit from such denial, and the political...
Coen: Framing Religion in Amoral Order
Elijah Siegler, ed. Coen: Framing Religion in Amoral Order. Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press, 2016."Scholars of religion," writes Elijah Siegler, editor of Coen: Framing Religion in Amoral Order, "do their best work when their analysis reaches beyond...
Cries from Syria
Cries from Syria (2017), dir. Evgeny AfineevskyAs the Syrian Civil War enters its 7th year, one would hope that the world is aware of the details of this terribly destructive crisis, but some have no doubt become desensitized by the constant barrage...
Dave Made a Maze
Dave Made a Maze (2017), dir. Bill WattersonThe director of this film makes the following statement: "I wanted to explore the mad fantasy worlds and heightened realities of Labyrinth or a Legend, but to see the journey taken by foulmouthed adults rather...
Divine Film Comedies: Biblical Narratives, Film Sub-Genres, and the Comic Spirit
Terry Lindvall, J. Dennis Bounds and Chris Lindvall, Divine Film Comedies: Biblical Narratives, Film Sub-Genres, and the Comic Spirit, New York: Routledge, 2016.Serious films demand thoughtful responses. Sight and Sounds list of "The Greatest Films of...
Global Catastrophe in Motion Pictures as Meaning and Message: The Functions of Apocalyptic Cinema in American Film
The Rising Popularity of Apocalyptic CinemaFilms with apocalyptic themes have never been more popular. John Walliss and James Aston report that the 21st Century has seen a significant increase in the number of films having an apocalyptic theme.1 Mary...
Hidden Figures
"His faith in us has no limits."The film chronicles true events. Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) is a de facto supervisor over the West Computing Group. She has the responsibilities, but none of the perks, for overseeing and mentoring a pool of African-American...
Hot Jesus, Black Messiah, Suffering Son of God: How Jesus Films Shape Our Moral Imaginations
It is tempting to agree with theologian Karl Barth that all attempts to depict Jesus in film have been a catastrophe.1 Films about the life of Jesus undoubtedly have the potential to misrepresent Jesus and to skew viewers' perceptions of his identity...
"I Do Feel the Fire!": The Transformations of Prison-Based Black Male Converts to Islam in South Central, Malcolm X, and Oz
IntroductionI had sunk to the very bottom of the American white man's society when-soon now, in prison-I found Allah and the religion of Islam and it completely transformed my life.-Malcolm X, The Autobiography of Malcolm XClearing a man of his past...
I Love Dick
I chose to review I Love Dick because it looked like a film about a religious "cult." Stereotypically, such films show some charismatic guru attracting a group of followers and exploiting them for his or her own purposes. The representation of New Religious...
Interview with Jessie Auritt, Director of Supergirl
Blizek. Let's begin with what drew you to Naomi's story.Auritt. There were two things. First, it was amazing that this little girl could be setting world records in power lifting. Young girls (she was eleven when we met) who weigh all of 97 pounds do...
Religion and Violence in Jesse James Films, 1972–2010
Both Frank and Jesse were schooled deeply in the old-fashioned religion. Every Sunday the family drove to church and took part in the worship. . . . Jesse James remained thoroughly orthodox in his religious beliefs as long as he lived. This, perhaps,...
Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World
Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World (2017), dir. Catherine Bainbridge and Alfonso Maiorana.Rumble is the untold story of how Native Americans and Native Canadians influenced contemporary music, including rock, jazz, and blues. The story is told...
Satanic Humans: Using Satanic Tropes to Guide and Misguide the Audience
Scholars have discussed cinematic Jesuses and Christ-figures frequently. Films about Jesus (as Jesus) are less common than films that feature a Christ-figure. This stands to reason: if Jesus is a character, the film is generally set in first-century...
Silence
Given the title of the film, one would expect sound to be an important item in the toolbox for Martin Scorsese in the making of Silence. However, I was surprised at how this tool was utilized. It would have been easy to emphasize the silence that the...
Sundance Film Festival 2017
It had been four years since I walked the streets of Park City, Utah, in late January to attend the Sundance Film Festival. I had not forgotten the snowdrifts, although they were larger than usual this year; I had also not forgotten the high quality...
Supergirl
Supergirl (2017), dir. Jessie AurittJessie Auritt's first documentary film (The Birdman, 2013) introduced us to the charming and quirky owner of Rainbow Music in the East Village. At 70, Bill, known throughout the neighborhood as the Birdman, does not...
The Discovery
The Discovery (2017), dir. Charlie McDowellI like "what if" stories and The Discovery is just that. What if a scientist proved definitively that there is an afterlife or another plane of existence? That is exactly what Dr. Thomas Harbor has done. He...
The Erlprince
The Erlprince (2016), dir. Kuba CzekajGoethe's poem, The Erl-King, tells the story of a father frantically riding with his son who sees and hears a spectral figure, the Erl-King, threatening to take him away. While the father tries to reassure his son...
The Innocents (Les Innocentes)
Anne Fontaine's The Innocents focuses on a Polish Benedictine convent in December 1945, just after the end of the Second World War. The film has moments reminiscent of the quiet observation of cloistered life present in Philip Gröning's Into Great Silence...
The Modern Jungle
The Modern Jungle (2017), dir. Charles Fairbanks and Saul Kak.This documentary film is an example of "direct cinema" that records its subjects performing ordinary everyday activities, and does not seek to impose an agenda or narrative structure on them....
The Wound
The Wound (2016), directed by John TrengoveXolani works in a factory in Johannesburg, but every year he acts as a "caregiver" to the young "initiates" who participate in the traditional tribal ritual of manhood, as they undergo circumcision and live...
“To See My Home before I Die”: The Trip to Bountiful, Memento Mori, and the Experience of Death
Such a caring for death, an awakening that keeps vigil over death, a consciousness that looks death in the face, is another name for freedom.-Jacques Derrida, The Gift of Death1Jacques Derrida, in the above words, elucidates one of philosophy's most...
To the Bone
To the Bone (2017), dir. Marti NoxonTo the Bone is the story of Ellen's battle with anorexia. She comes from a family where her father is absent and her step-mother can only be described as a bitch. Her sister adores her and serves as a buffer between...
Veiled Desires: Intimate Portrayals of Nuns in Postwar Anglo-American Film
Sabine, Maureen. Veiled Desires: Intimate Portrayals of Nuns in Postwar Anglo-American Film. New York: Fordham UP, 2013.The thrust of Prof. Maureen Sabine's book Veiled Desires is perfectly encapsulated by its title. In this book she explores the portrayal...
Weather House
Weather House (2017), dir. Frauke HavemannThis avant-garde film seems to be a metaphor for our current world, in which we have become aware of climate change but seem unable or unwilling to address it in effective or rational ways. The characters of...
Winnie
Winnie (2017), dir. Pascale LamcheThe South African Truth & Reconciliation Commission was designed to help South Africa heal after years of a brutal apartheid. Some reparations were made to injured victims, but some amnesty was given to perpetrators...
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