Reconsidering Apocalyptic Cinema: Pauline Apocalyptic and Paul Thomas Anderson

  • Author(s): David Congdon
  • When: 2012-12
  • Where: Journal of Religion and Popular Culture
  • Apocalypticism has been a consistent theme in modern culture. In recent religious studies, the definition of “apocalyptic” has undergone extensive revision and expansion, resulting in the articulation of a distinctively “Pauline” apocalyptic theology. This new conception of apocalypticism offers a new way to interpret works of popular culture, especially film. This paper argues that Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1999 movie, Magnolia, is properly viewed as an apocalyptic film in this revised Pauline sense. Viewing it from this perspective helps to make better sense of its key themes and plot developments. The goal of the paper is to initiate a broader conversation regarding the field of apocalyptic cinema in light of the latest theological research.

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