True Love’s Kiss and Happily Ever After: the religion of love in American film

  • Author(s): Jyoti Raghu
  • When: 2015-08
  • Where: Journal of Popular Romance Studies
  • In this article I argue that romantic love, as portrayed in film, has in postmodernity become a site both for theological reflection and theological encounter, opening through a popular cultural theological aesthetics a window to experiences of divine grace, beauty and love. I show how historically this has come about through the intertwining of courtly love literature with erotic mystical discourse and through an immanentization of religious and theological discourse. This connection comes out most clearly through my analysis of the function of the kiss motif in films. I look at two film series, The Matrix trilogy and Shrek quadrilogy to see how romantic love as exemplified through the kiss becomes salvific and redemptive. I also note how religious discourse often now takes place under the guise of and in the genre of romantic comedy. In concluding I make a case for treating the theological relevance of romantic love in film more seriously, and also for seeing the positive value of romance in film as a theologically and aesthetically rich site for experiencing (divine) beauty, wonder, and grace.

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