Teaching Hierophany through Film and Film through Hierophany

  • Author(s): Marc Yamada
  • When: 2019-09
  • Where: Journal of Religion & Film
  • Courses that deal with cinematic representations of the sacred often focus on the experiences of characters in the film, relegating the viewer to the position of a passive witness to the reorienting effects of cinematic hierophanies. These types of courses do not take full advantage of the power of the cinematic medium to transform the way viewers understand the ontological and temporal structures they use to anchor themselves in the “profane” world. Based on my undergraduate course Cinema and the Sacred, this article outlines ways to allow students to experience the full transformative effects of cinema. As is the case with many of the works analyzed below, the religious subject matter dealt with in these films is of secondary importance to their role in creating sacred experience. It is the formal devices through which these visual narratives are relayed, this article argues, that imbues cinema with its sacred function.

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