Myth and Ritual on Film

  • Professor(s): Dr. S. Brent Plate
  • When: 2004
  • Where: Texas Christian University / RELI 20803
  • Source
  • Religion is about the creation of worlds. Film is about the re-creation of worlds. Religions typically provide myths about the creation of the world, and then, through reorderings of space and time, religions establish rituals to reenact those myths. Film works on a level similar to religious ritual in that it begins with the raw (albeit abstract) material of space and time and bends them each in new ways. The result of both film and religious ritual is a re-created world: a world of recreation, a world of fantasy, a world of ideology, a world we may long to live in or a world we wish to avoid at all costs. In the end we will enquire about how cinema might help to reinvent traditional religious rituals in our contemporary age, as well as how a deeper understanding of the aesthetic nature of religious rituals might alter the production of film. Through readings and film screenings, students will be able to detect the formal structures that comprise film (e.g., cinematography, mise-en-scene, editing), and to discern how these each contribute to the creation of new worlds on screen. With this in the foreground, students will be able to see analogies to the ways in which religious myths and rituals are constructed, and thus be able to analyze the formal components of religious practices.

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