Religion and Film – The Journey

  • Professor(s): Richard D. Hecht
  • When: 2011
  • 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, the frontier, and the representations of courage. The theme during this quarter will be the symbolism of the journey. The journey is a powerful symbol in American history. There is always the frontier ahead of us and we are always going there or someplace. “Manifest Destiny,” that particularly American idea and justification for our territorial expansion formulated in the mid-19 th century, is essentially a description of a journey in which everywhere we set foot is a statement of both ownership and our identity. Of course, President Kennedy took up the “new frontier” in his acceptance speech before the Democratic Convention in the LA Sports Arena in 1960, saying that we stand “today on the edge of a New Frontier – the frontier of the 1960s, the frontier of unknown opportunities and perils, the frontier of unfilled hopes and unfilled threats. Beyond that frontier are uncharted areas of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and war, unconquered problems of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus.” Among the particular symbolic structures which seem to be the locations of journeys are roads, paths, crossings, bridges, highways, and rivers.

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