Cinema and Theology
This course considers the various religious and theological dimensions of contemporary cinema, and examines a range of approaches to such endeavors. Since the inception of motion picture in 1895, cinema and institutional religions (including Christianity) have always been interested in each other — numerous films have used religious themes and motifs as subject matters, while religious communities have been eager to harness the cinema by critiquing, censoring, or making use of films in their ministries. The study of film from serious academic theological perspectives, however, was scarce until the mid 1990s. In this course, we explore a number of approaches by which the theological study of film can take place. These include, for example, the study of explicit representation of religious materials, the 'uncovering' of implicit religious motifs, the use of film as resource for theological reflection and construction. In particular, we shall consider how cinematic representations of certain important theological motifs may enrich conventional religious understanding. Films to be viewed and discussed cover a broad range from European art- house classics, popular Hollywood productions, to contemporary East Asian and Chinese language films.