THEME ISSUE: REEL PRESENCE

ARTICLES

 

Charlie W. Starr Faith without Film is Dull: C. S. Lewis Corrects Evangelicals on Art, Movies, and Worldview Analysis

In this essay, Charlie W. Starr argues that evangelical Christians do not know what art is
for. In an age when the best that even theologians can offer in response to the arts is "culture
war" or "worldview analysis," Christians who want to find the intersection between
faith and film should look to C. S. Lewis for guidance. Lewis understood that worldview
analysis is problematic and that art cannot be used for utilitarian reasons (such as teaching
morality or truth) until it first achieves its primary purposes: pleasure, play, leisure, and
the enactment of a God-given creative impulse. We read, view, and listen to art because it
is fun, gives us new experiences, delights our imaginations, and gives us greater vision.
Charlie W. Starr is a professor of English and Humanities at Kentucky Christian University.

 

Annalee R. Ward - Gran Torino and Moral Order

In this essay, Annalee R. Ward explores Gran Torino's moral order by engaging standpoint
theory with Robert Wuthnow's symbolic boundaries of moral order. In a journey of moral
enlightenment, learning to communicate across boundaries anchors the story in hope. Along
the way, Walt Kowalski encounters challenges to his moral structures which may affirm a
redemptive read of the film, but the affirmations of his worldview suggest values counter
to the kingdom of God, resulting in the need for a more nuanced read of the film. Annalee
Ward, formerly Professor of Communication Arts at Trinity Christian College, is a Scholar
in Residence at the University of Dubuque.

 

Stephen Parmelee "Such Inexplicable Pain": Kon Ichikawa's The Burmese Harp

Kon Ichikawa's 1956 film The Burmese Harp is a powerful depiction of the spiritual journey
of a Japanese soldier in Burma immediately following the end of World War II. Stephen
Parmelee
discusses the nature of this soldier's search for meaning in the face of suffering;
the parallels and differences between this soldier's search and the Christian's understanding
of ultimate meaning; and Ichikawa's unexpected use of Christian and a cappella music to
punctuate the dramatic events that occur in the film. Parmelee is an assistant professor of
English at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, where he directs the undergraduate
film studies program.

 

Scott DeVries Murals, Icons, Movies: Christian Imagery in Mexican Cinema

Guillermo del Toro, Alejandro Iñárritu, and Alfonso Cuarón: Hollywood's "three amigos"
have enjoyed recent financial and critical success and raised the profile of Mexican filmmaking
in the process. In this paper, Scott DeVries finds that the cinematic aesthetics in
films from these highly-regarded filmmakers represent the culmination of a long history of
Mexican filmmaking, one that hearkens back to films by Emilio "El indio" Fernández and
Luis Buñuel from the 1940s through the 1960s. In these classic films as well in the most recent
work from Mexico, DeVries identifies an unsettling ambivalence toward faith communicated
primarily through the use of powerful imagery rather than story elements or expository
dialogue. Mr. DeVries is Associate Professor of Spanish at Bethel College in Indiana.

 

Joseph G. Kickasola The Mystery Dialectic in Cinema: Paradox, Mystery, Miracle

Mystery, says Joseph G. Kickasola in this essay, is a key component in any film seeking to
approach the transcendent. Mystery is a dialectical process, moving between paradox and
miracle. The basic characteristics of religious mystery, as articulated by the theologian Louis
Dupré, take thematic and formal shape in Paul Haggis' 2005 Academy-Award winning film
Crash. Mr. Kickasola is Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Baylor University.

 

 

REVIEW ESSAYS

 

Crystal Downing - Strange Bedfellows: Faith and Film—A Review Essay

Crystal Downing is Professor of English and Film Studies at Messiah College.

 

Jeremy S. Begbie - Pressing at the Boundaries of Modernity—A Review Essay

Jeremy S. Begbie is Thomas A. Langford Research Professor of Theology at Duke Divinity School, Duke University.