The Cinematic Christ-figure: From Everyman to Antihero-antichrist

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Abstract

In this second century of the Age of Hollywood and the reign of moving image culture, popular feature films are nowadays the lingua franca of our youth throughout Western society, and the natural home of numerous sacred subtexts; most notably the cinematic Christ-figure, but hitherto unexplicated in-depth to date. Consequently, a broad review of the critical religion-and-film literature plus a close reading of selected feature films utilizing humanist film criticism as the guiding analytical lens (i.e., examining the textual world inside the frame, but not necessarily the world outside the frame), revealed at least six (but not necessarily mutually exclusive) categories of the cinematic Christ-figure, namely: (1) Everyman Christ-figures: Earth-sourced Humans, (2) Alien Christ-figures: Extraterrestrial Messiahs, (3) Female Christ-figures: Gender Swapping Jesuses, (4) Animal Christ-figures: Veterinary Versions, (5) Inanimate Christ-figures: The Holy Non-living, and (6) Antihero-antichrist-figures: The Shadows of the Christos. To ensure category robustness, they were sourced from different directors, genres, countries, aesthetic styles, and release decades. Each category was briefly explicated and illustrated herein. It was concluded that the sacred subtexts subgenre within the exciting emerging field of religion-and-film is immense, under-explored, awaiting (re-)discovery, and with a promising future worthy of further investigation and pedagogic deployment within the classroom, home or pulpit. All of which strongly implies that these cinematic extra-ecclesiastical sources of insight function as modern-day missionaries that expands theological discussion far beyond Bible readings and tracking of the Apostle’s journeys that more often had to be endured by students rather than enjoyed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalKhazanah Theologia
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Bible films
  • Christ-figures
  • popular culture
  • religion-and-film
  • sacred subtext

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