Finding Religion in Film: A Methodology for Religion and Film Studies

By William L. Blizek.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Interest in religion and film has skyrocketed over the past twenty years. This is due in large measure to finding religion in popular film, in Hollywood blockbusters—and now Bollywood blockbusters. People who are not interested in art films, documentaries, or shorts, do seem to be interested in religion and film because of such movies as: Superman, Star Wars (with its sequels and prequels), The Matrix (with its sequels), The Passion of the Christ, The Da Vinci Code, Slumdog Millionaire, Avatar and others.

Given the plethora of interest, we find a variety of methodologies proposed for religion and film studies. So far, no single methodology has emerged as the most important and comprehensive methodology for religion and film. In this paper I will explore “finding religion in film” as a methodology for religion and film studies and I will compare this methodology with others, including a) film as religion, b) religion and film in dialogue, c) cultural studies, d) psychoanalysis, e) critical religious film theory, f) the transcendental style in film, and g) the formation of faith. I also will argue in favor of “finding religion in the movies” as the most important and comprehensive methodology of those considered in this essay.

Keywords: Religion, Film, Studies, Methodology, Cultural Studies, Psychoanalysis, Transcendental Style, Faith

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 7, pp.1-6. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 727.079KB).

Dr. William L. Blizek

Professor of Philosophy and Religion, The College of Arts & Sciences, The University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha, Nebraska, USA

Dr. Blizek is Professor of Philosophy and Religion and Founding Editor of the Journal of Religion & Film at the University of Nebraska where he has taught for forty years. Dr. Blizek teaches courses on religion and film, atheism, and ethics and has taught courses on human values in medicine, self-deception, and ethics and film. He is the editor of The Continuum Companion to Religion and Film, as well as Justice and Punishment, and The Humanities in Public Life. Dr. Blizek is the winner of the Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award for the University of Nebraska system, the Chancellor’s Medal for service to the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and Outstanding Contributions to the Status of Women on the University of Nebraska at Omaha campus.

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