Review essay: religion goes to the movies

  • Author(s): Peter W. Williams
  • When: 2000-08
  • Where: Religion and American Culture
  • Film — aka, "cinema" and "the movies," — occupies a liminal place in the academic pecking order of media. Television is clearly "popular" and of academic interest mainly to the cultural studies folk. Literature, though besieged, nevertheless maintains a venerable status within the canon of the liberal arts. Film, however, cuts both ways and, though a product of twentieth-century technology, has generated a sufficient lineage of directors of auteur status — Bergman, Fellini, Griffith, Hitchcock, Renoir — to be deemed worthy of study as art as well as entertainment. Film viewing, together with television, has also emerged as the dominant mode of popular entertainment, with print culture no longer able to claim the uncontestedly privi-leged status of expression and communication that it enjoyed in the now-bygone era shaped by both Gutenberg and the Protestant re-formers.

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