“Can We Laugh at God?”: Apocalyptic Comedy in Film

  • Author(s): Robert Lamm
  • When: 1991-06
  • Where: Journal of Popular Film and Television
  • Brather Jorge, the blind librarian in the film version of The Name of the Rose, offers a theological defense of his poisoning all those who dared to read a banned book, Aristotle's treatise on comedy: "What will happen if because of this book learned men were to pronounce it permissible to laugh at everything? Can we laugh at God? The world will relapse into chaos!" Although the context of the film refutes Jorge's defense—his murderous resistance to humor ironically causes the chaos that fulfills apocalyptic prophecy—his words expose the subversive power of comedy, its ability to ridicule, debunk, and ultimately destroy a system of beliefs.

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