Catching Light: Looking for God in the Movies

Front Cover
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2004 M10 4 - 402 pages
Films have come to not only entertain modern minds but also inform and shape them. Many of the best cinematic works have profound religious elements -- some obvious, some more subtle. In Catching Light Roy Anker examines nineteen popular films, showing how they convey a range of striking perspectives on the human encounter with God.

These selected films portray God showing up in different, surprising ways amid the messy circumstances of life. Anker looks closely at the plot of each film, especially at how characters, through their experiences, ultimately move "toward Light," toward recognition of a loving, redemptive deity.

The first section of Catching Light looks at classic 1970s films that inspect personal, social, and cultural evil: The Godfather trilogy, Chinatown, and The Deer Hunter. The second group of films depicts the ways and depths of specifically Christian notions of redemption: Tender Mercies, The Mission, Places in the Heart, and Babette's Feast. Some of the most successful films of our time have come as fairy-tale fantasies: the Star Wars saga, Superman, and three of Steven Spielberg's "lost boy" stories (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, and A.I.: Artificial Intelligence), each of which Anker interprets as a fable of search and redemption. The films in the last section of the book feature characters who, to their great surprise, are ambushed by a wholly unexpected God: Grand Canyon, American Beauty, and Three Colors: Blue.

In addition to focusing on the theological dimension of each film, Anker comments on its merits both as story and as cinema. Also included are sidebars that discuss each film's history and significance as well as the quality and special features of DVD editions. For anyone interested in the intersection of religion, art, and culture, Catching Light offers a unique view of contemporary faith.
 

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Contents

DARKNESS VISIBLE
19
UTTERLY LOST Michael Corleones Descent in The Godfather Saga
24
THE DESIGN OF DARKNESS TO APPALL Metaphysical Evil in Chinatown
67
JUST COME HOME Violence and Redemption in The Deer Hunter
92
LIGHT SHINES IN THE DARKNESS
119
THE WINGS OF A DOVE The Search for Home in Tender Mercies
124
THE PLACE BEYOND WORDS Image and Meaning in Places in the Heart
143
THE LAUGHTER BEYOND TEARS Loves Redemptive Call in The Mission
162
FABLES OF LIGHT
215
TRACKING THE FORCE Meaning and Morality in the Star Wars Saga
220
THE SUPERMAN Displaying the Incarnation in Superman
244
EARTHS THE PLACE FOR LOVE The Lost Boys Search for Home in Three Steven Spielberg Movies
270
FOUND
315
OF ANGELS AND HEADACHES The Unexpected God of Grand Canyon
318
THE WAR OF THE ROSES Meaning and Epiphany in American Beauty
345
THE SOUND OF THE COLOR OF LOVE The Construction of Meaning in Kieslowskis Three Colors Blue
364

IN THE REGIONS OF THE HEART The Meeting of Art and Belief in Babettes Feast
191

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Page 9 - And so each venture Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate With shabby equipment always deteriorating In the general mess of imprecision of feeling, Undisciplined squads of emotion.

About the author (2004)

Roy M. Anker is professor of English at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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