Con Men and a Conned Society: Religion in Contemporary American Cinema

  • Author(s): John R. May
  • When: 1977-07
  • Where: Source
  • Experimental cinema aside, our culturally typical films are all visual stories. To discover a film's religious meaning, we must do more than interpret dialogue; the cultural context of the film and its overall structure as visual story must be analyzed. American culture has characteristically explored the religious question by exposing the demons in our lives. Thus, our cinema at its recent best has—in the mode of visual parable—been subverting the facile optimism of the American dream by revealing the evil within us and our institutions. It has done this most effectively and artistically, not in its blatant presentations of the demon as persona, but rather through the portrayal of human analogues of the demonic: the satanic heart in man and the pervasive presence of the con man in society.

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