The Messianic Figure in Film: Christology Beyond the Biblical Epic

  • Author(s): Matthew McEver
  • When: 1998-10
  • Where: Journal of Religion & Film
  • With the decline and fall of the religious epic, christology (the study of the person of Christ) in film has moved into genres outside of the biblical spectacular. Deliberate attempts to harmonize the Gospels and offer a literal rendition of the life of Jesus have proven mediocre to some and offensive to others. What has proven more successful is the Messianic Figure: a formula in which the central character is a non-conformist or unlikely redeemer who transforms lives and ultimately undergoes martyrdom. Four films offer the prototype of such a character: Cool Hand Luke (1967), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), Dead Poets Society (1989), and most recently Sling Blade (1997).

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