Lush, vaguely liturgical music floods the theater. A sonorous off-screen male voice slowly articulates the words, 'And it was written...' or 'In the year...' On the screen, clouds mysteriously separate, and a semi-transparent figure appears in the sky. This is the religious film.
From The Gospel according to Matthew to "Jesus Christ Superstar", from "The Passion of Joan of Arc" to "The Last Temptation of Christ" and "Jesus of Montreal", The Religious Film captures the glory, gore, and centrality of this important genre. This book presents a short, accessible introduction to religious film, exploring the genre as spectacle, as musical, and as controversy. It examines the historical, cultural and critical background for religious films from the silent era through to the present day; and, introduces the complexities and characteristics of this iconic genre of film, including common sounds and images, and the values that most traditional films of this kind uphold.
List of Figures. Acknowledgments. 1. Introduction: The Religious Film and the Hagiopic. 2. Historical Overview. 3. Critical Overview. 4. King of Kings (1961): Spectacle and Anti-Spectacle. 5. The Song of Bernadette (1943): The Religious Comfort Film. 6. Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) and Jesus Christ Superstar (2000): The Religious Musical. 7. The Gospel According to Matthew (1964) and Jesus of Montreal (1989): The Alternative Hagiopic. 8. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) and The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999): Transcendence and Exploitation. 9. The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) and The Passion of the Christ (2004): The Sacrificial Hagiopic. Notes. Bibliography. Index.