A poor reflection as in a mirror?: Film as both window and mirror for theology

  • Author(s): Jonathan Holt
  • When: 2015-12
  • Where: St Mark's Review
  • The presentation of two-dimensional moving images on a screen gives the appearance of solidity. Viewers of film undertake to suspend disbelief and embrace a sequence of visual and auditory stimuli, which they expect to be presenting a coherent meaning. More than the sum of its parts, the film communicates a story, and something more compelling than mere story. Film elicits emotion, and is attributed meaning and significance. Is this attribution of meaning the investment of the artist (or artists)? A meaning to be observed, as through a window? Or is the meaning found by the viewer more like a reflection? Does an audience see in movies the ideas and meaning that they wish to be there? As Paul Coates comments on the use of mirrors within a film, the doubling of reality within the frame alludes to the process of reproduction underlying cinema itself, so rendering this one image the key image of all film - with realistic film's preference for transparency (the window metaphor) concealing the deeper truth of the mirror.

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