Film as Religion: Myths, Morals, and Rituals by John C. Lyden

By John C. Lyden

Choice notable educational identify 2003

Film as Religion argues that renowned motion pictures practice a non secular functionality in our tradition. Like extra formal spiritual associations, motion pictures offers us with how one can view the area and values to confront it. Lyden contends that methods which interpret movies in simple terms ideologically or theologically leave out the mark in knowing their entice audience. He develops another approach which exhibits how movies should be understood as representing a “religious” worldview of their personal right.

Lyden surveys the nation of the research of faith and picture, delivering an outline of prior tools earlier than featuring his personal. instead of trying to discover hidden meanings in movie detectable in basic terms to students, Lyden emphasizes how movie capabilities for its audiencesᾹthe ideals and values it conveys, and its ritual strength to supply emotional catharsis. He encompasses a variety of short circumstances stories during which he applies this system to the learn of movie genres—including westerns and motion videos, children's movies, and romantic comedies—and person motion pictures from The Godfather to E.T., displaying how motion pictures can functionality religiously.

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Extra resources for Film as Religion: Myths, Morals, and Rituals

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Theological approaches may be ill-equipped to understand or recognize religious beliefs outside the Western paradigm, and so may fall into ethnocentric conclusions; ide ological critics may view religion only as “the opiate of the people” that re inforces regressive politics; and mythological approaches tend to ignore historical context and the differing specifics of religions, proposing that religious ideas are ahistorical archetypes universally present in the human unconscious. 66 I would agree with Martin’s basic summary of the advantages and limi tations of theological and ideological approaches.

In sum, there are a number of ideas that have been advanced in the dis cussion of religion and film that point toward an understanding of how film itself functions as a religion, but there has been little attempt to de velop this understanding and all its ramifications. If such an approach is to be developed, it will provide an alternative to both theological and ide ological interpretation of film, which have been the two dominant ap proaches in religion and film studies. If the religious dimensions of film were better understood, we might see both how film’s views may parallel those of various religions and how film functions religiously in its own right.

Yet, to make assumptions about the evils of popular film without looking at the details of the films or their audience reception is to draw conclusions based on ideological bias rather than sound analysis. This approach also ignores the specifics of individual genres or films, which is akin to generalizing about “all religions” and what they believe. Local knowledge of individual phenomena must precede any attempt at generalizations, which must in any case be offered tentatively and with the understanding that our conclusions are scholarly constructions rather than statements about the nature of reality.

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