Religion and Film – Courage

  • Professor(s): Richard D. Hecht
  • When: 2010
  • Where: University of California, Santa Barbara / RS 113
  • Source
  • Each time this course has been taught, we have selected a specific theme to organize our lectures, the selection of films and our classroom discussions. In the past we have studied themes like evil, dystopia and utopia, the hero’s quest, redemption in the films of Clint Eastwood and Spike Lee, and the frontier. The theme during this quarter will be the symbolisms and meanings of courage... Religion remains woven in and through all societies of the past and the present. Religion is reflected in the various cultural expressions and practices of these societies, and especially in their arts. The feature-length, narrative film, one of the few art forms America can claim as her own, expresses and informs our religious experience through the stories it tells, the people (characters) it depicts, and the situations it portrays. In some cases these themes are explicit in film and other cultural works, but more often they are concealed, deeply coded, and implicit. Our task is to examine both dimensions. This will mean that we must see religion as much more than specific or particular religious traditions. We will argue that religion is about symbols which extend beyond the borders of the formulation and enactment of faith traditions. Myth is central to all religious traditions across all of history. Myth is a symbolic communication which expresses the deepest concerns of human life and provides orientation and meaning. The larger argument that unifies our exploration in this quarter is thus a cultural question. In what ways does film reflect the persistence of myth? Is film the functional replacement for the traditional and historic role of myth in religion? And, if that might be the case, how can we speak of the viewing of film as a ritual or devotional experience

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