Imaging the Divine: Jesus and Christ-Figures in Film

By Lloyd Baugh | Go to book overview

Epilogue

This book takes a first systematic step towards proposing as an alternative to the literal representation of Jesus in film, the more adequate metaphorical representation, that is, the Christ-figure. As a first step it is introductory. Much remains to be done in this area, by way of moving forward the discussion. In this very brief conclusion, I would like to suggest a number of directions in which future research might go. One area for further work comes to mind immediately because it was considered (only) briefly in the penultimate chapter of this book, and that is a wider research into some of the typical guises or modalities of the filmic Christ-figure. There is still much material regarding metaphorical images of Christ to be investigated in films about saints and films about priests and nuns. The genres of the western, the prison film, the war film, all of which we considered in a limited way in this book, still offer fertile ground for research, as does the work of a number of film- auteurs.

The films of Tarkovsky and Bresson, some of which we considered here, certainly deserve further investigation, as do the early films of Pasolini and Bergman and some of Buñuel, and the films of John Ford and Carl Dreyer. Beyond the work of these auteurs, a number of individual films only mentioned in the present discussion offer interesting possibilities for discussion of the filmic Christ-figure: Fellini La dolce vita ( 1960), for example, or Pasolini Teorema ( 1968) or John Schlesinger Midnight Cowboy ( 1969).

To recall the first part of the present study, there are still a number of Jesus-films that might be researched fruitfully, for example, a comparative investigation, with a theological-aesthetic hermeneutic, of the Jesus-protagonist of the primitive passion play films would prove fruitful. A more thorough treatment of some of the early and later Jesus epics, some of which we treated briefly in this book, would prove interesting. I am thinking, for example, of Robert Wiene I.N.R.I., DeMille The King of Kings, Philip Van Loan Jesus of Nazareth( 1928), Julien Duvivier Golgotha, William Beaudine and Harold Daniels' seldom seen and curious film about an American "Oberammergau", The Lawton Story ( 1949), Irving Pichel and John T. Coyle Day of Triumph ( 1954), Peter Sykes and John Kirsh Jesus: The Man Who Changed the World ( 1979) and Franco Rossi apocryphal A Child Called Jesus ( 1989).

To move to more theoretical themes, clearly there is still much to be done in the area of the inevitable and fundamental contrast between filmic representations of the Jesus of Nazareth who is recognized (only) as a prophetic figure of history and world culture, and filmic representations of Jesus of Nazareth, historical figure but also focal point and center of the Christian

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