Seeing Film and Reading Feminist Theology: A Dialogue

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Nineteenth-century reproduction of the icon of the Madonna del Sangue venerated in the village of Re Val Vigezzo , Italy. Vanessa is accused of witchcraft, and through her influence Christian undergoes a total change of mind, which will lead to his demise. Two major and very recognisable Christian images bracket the film.

Feminist film theory

Thus Christian is shown as a true Christ, the One who fights for justice and compassion but is misunderstood and vilified by the crowd, turned into a lynch mob. And just as Christian becomes Christ, Vanessa is turned into Mary Magdalene crying at the feet of the cross. There are other Christian images statues and paintings recurring in the film, one of which is particularly significant for my interpretation. Immediately afterwards, another victim of Cumberland is brought into the room after having been tortured and is held by her arms exactly in the same position as the body of Jesus on the cross.

Thus, although the character of Christian is the one that is more clearly identifiable as Christ, this other brief moment easily creates a connection in the mind of the viewers between Jesus on the cross and the victims of the witch hunters.

Theology, Imagination and Film

The play on words here is inevitable. It is indeed strongly suggested, even imposed. The fact that, in our object of study, ecclesiastical and civil authorities behaving very cruelly are portrayed as Christian does not mean at all that the film itself expresses anti-Christian or anti-religious sentiments.

On the contrary, at least since the eleventh century, with the Patarines movement, Western Christians have decried the behaviour of the clergy in the name of the true teachings of Jesus Christ. Towards the end of the film, there is a scene in which Lord Cumberland pretends to pray in order to send away an annoying guard. Jesus is presented as a Jewish prophet and healer who, for reasons that we are not told, ventures into the region north of Galilee, which is mostly inhabited by non-Jews, but wants to remain incognito and does not intend to perform any healing in this region.

The other character of the story, a non-Jewish woman, challenges this man of God to come to the fore and rise to the occasion. She questions why God would reserve his healing and life-giving energy only for the Jews. The Gospel text is as follows:. Just before this episode, Jesus started to criticise received religious traditions [8] and right after it his life-parable turns bitter, as he realises that, by criticising the powers that be, he is soon going to meet his own death. In a quite similar way, the supper scene of Mark of the Devil is built upon the challenge that Vanessa brings to Christian, and more precisely to his self-understanding as a man of God.

In both cases, a woman belonging to the second, vilified group questions such an assumption and, as a consequence, the man changes his own understanding and his behaviour to the extent that he will soon undergo a violent death. In both cases, finally, the crisis is resolved by a widening of perspective and a tragic end. A more detailed version of my comparison of these two scenes can be seen in the comparative table 1.

By interpreting Christian as an alter Christus i. Moreover, the depiction of the women accused of witchcraft as innocent victims yet proud, strong and daring to the point that Vanessa becomes the leader of the revolt of the townspeople should give Mark of the Devil a feminist character very much in line with what had transpired in feminism in popular culture in the early s.

Firstly, among the people accused, tortured and executed we find one nun and one priest, who end up in the same cell praying and hoping sincerely for the afterlife on the night before their deaths. The element of martyrdom reinforces the Christian element of the plot, as again it clearly represents an internal critique of Christianity. Secondly, the scene of the crucifixion presents a female Christ the nun: Astrid Kilian and a female Mary Magdalene the abbess: Ellen Umlauf at the foot of the cross, thus reinforcing the critique of the victimisation of women while showing a positive image of lesbian love.

Up to this point my reading has been limited to the level of symbols and plot. I have performed an abstract analysis which could severely limit the validity of my conclusions. What about the way in which women are physically depicted in these two films? What about the showing of their naked bodies being tortured or to a much lesser extent enjoying sexual pleasure? The so-called exploitation element of Mark of the Devil and the sequel raises obvious questions and could be deployed for invalidating the reading that I have presented above.

It is generally believed that exploitation movies adopt Christian imagery simply because it is recognisable by the viewers, without caring at all about its religious meaning and turning Christian symbols upside down in parody. While this might be true in general, I believe that I have already shown that it is not the case for the two movies that I am analysing.

And can a work of art can be considered Christian when it insists on making the connection between Christianity and images of torture and sexualised violence? Images of the punishments of hell, external wall of the chapel of St. Show all. Camille Claudel Pages Vollmer, Ulrike. Artemisia Pages Vollmer, Ulrike. Conclusion Pages Vollmer, Ulrike. Show next xx. Services for this book Download High-Resolution Cover. PAGE 1. It argues that this has considerable significance for the academic study of religion, which has traditionally eschewed the popular media as a serious repository of theological or religious activity, and warrants a radical and new evaluation of contemporary religiosity.

It has received strong positive reviews, with William R. Cape Fear; Gran Torino. In: Reinhartz, A. Abingdon and New York: Routledge, pp. I contributed two chapters to this book, consisting of two films which have drawn inspiration from the Bible. London: Routledge, pp. I supply a methodological angle, helping fine tune the debate over how the language of redemption, often used in such criminological contexts, has a theological root and not necessarily one that fits with its usage in more secular contexts.

But, I demonstrate how the work I have been doing over the past decade with film can be further applied to criminology, thereby fostering interdisciplinary engagement between discrete subject areas. Apocalypse Now? Towards a Cinematic Realized Eschatology.

In: Deacy, C. Even in films that do bear witness to a traditional afterlife schema, Deacy indicates that it is nevertheless the case that earthly realities are being used as the point of departure, to the point that it is this life, rather than the afterlife, which is being affirmed, and that death comprises nothing more than an opportunity for providing ethical lessons about how to behave in the here and now.

In: Lyden, J. The Routledge Companion to Religion and Film. This chapter analyzes the extent to which films may be said to provide 'redemption' in ways that are analogous to how religions especially Christianity claim to do so. Although filmic redemptions usually transpose religious notions to a secular context, this does not erase the similarities between them, and it may also point to the religious necessity of secularizing redemption - placing it in the world we know and live in.

Even escapist films may provide images of transforming hope that are akin to those offered by religions, and for this reason it is essential that the dialogue between religious and filmic representations of ideas continues. Aldershot: Ashgate, pp. In: Watkins, G. Teaching Religion and Film.

Salvation in Celluloid: Theology, Imagination and Film: Robert Pope: T&T Clark

Such projects can reach absurd limits, to the point that either Christ figures are simply in the eye of the beholder or the correlations are so flat as to be uninteresting. With so much of that kind of mediocre work going on, Deacy asks these key analytical questions: When is theology an integral part of a film, and when is it brought to a film?

To address these challenges of method, he encourages us to push theological considerations beyond Christ typology and into a deeper examination of both the concept of the movie as a whole and its theological implications. In: Hallback, G. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix, pp. The aim of this article is to examine the manner and extent to which the medium of film is capable of comprising a potential site of theological engagement.

It takes as its starting point David Jasper's critique of escapism, as outlined in a chapter, and concludes that film and theology may be brought together as discerning, and reciprocal, dialogue-partners. In: Johnston, R.

  1. Ulrike Vollmer (Author of Seeing Film and Reading Feminist Theology).
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Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, pp. In this article, I examine how film enables us to re- examine, critique and challenge the efficacy of the work of a number of twentieth century theologians. I suggest that film is capable of facilitating quite sophisticated theological enquiry. In Christmas With the Kranks , for example, I indicate that one may discern a living expression of Bonhoeffer's 'world come of age. The film does not only illustrate; it also contributes to serious theological discussion of how we might need a 'religionless Christianity' today.

Similarly, Big Fish , though not an explicitly theological film, can function as a corrective to Bultmann's overly zealous demythologizing. By helping us deal firsthand with life, such films critique and challenge various theological paradigms, helping scholars facilitate and fine-tune a theological conversation.

Salvation in Celluloid

Paradise Lost or Paradise Learned? View in KAR. Outside explicitly religious contexts, also, the question of immortality has arisen as a result of work undertaken over the last forty years in the territory of Near-Death and Out-of-Body Experiences. Religious, theological and philosophical perspectives relating to an afterlife have thus formed, and continue to form, a substantial part of our Western, cultural consciousness.

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  • Winners of the John Templeton / Manfred Lautenschl√§ger Award for Theological Promise 2007-2017;
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  • It is quite ironic, therefore, that the academic study of eschatology is not quite as established as such other sub-disciplines of religious and theological enquiry as in the case of the Christian tradition alone Christology, soteriology, doctrine and ethics. In previous years, the themes looked at by the research group have included world religions in film, the relation of time, images and theology, religious dimensions of cinematic child-figures, film and social ethics, eros and religion, as well as explorations into the oeuvres of individual directors.

    The closest that their work has come to exploring the province of eschatology has been the volume on outer space, which focused on the construction of alternative worlds in science fiction films. It was not until June , at the Katholische Akademie Schwerte, that specific attention was accorded to the extent to which cinematic representations of an afterlife are able to impinge upon theological territory regarding the survival of personhood after death.

    The insights of that conference, at which a dozen papers were presented by a combination of established academics and emerging scholars, have been selected for inclusion in this volume.

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    In displacing eschatological concepts and images into a fresh context, has cinema changed their original meaning? Why is it the case, for example, that, in cinematic representations, life after death appears as a much more material reality, is far less symbolic and has much more of a this-worldly focus than in traditional eschatological contexts? Some of the papers focus on specific films, while others are more methodologically-based and address the two-way dialogical question of what eschatology can learn from cinema and what cinema can learn from eschatology.

    Exploring Religion and the Sacred in a Media Age. Aldershot: Ashgate.