Religion and the Academy Awards, 2014

Huff Post: by S. Brent Plate — 

Movies make worlds unto themselves and then let viewers peek in, audio-visually participating from our own darkened rooms. We sit in one world and access another, primarily through our eyes and ears but also through our entire bodies: we sit on the edge of our seat or recoil in disgust, belly laugh at the jokes or cry at the departures.

Religious traditions also create their own worlds, with their own senses of space and time, their own valued objects, and unique ways of seeing and hearing. We live our lives in one world, while participating from time to time in the other world through myths, rituals, symbols, and community engagement. Religions are bodily enterprises too, full of disgust and anger, scents and sounds, joy and commitment, touch and sight.

In this way, religions are like the movies. Movies are “religious” not because Jesus (or Noah, or Moses) is the protagonist, or a couple romantically meets in a synagogue, or the heroine gets on her knees to pray in the despair of night. Movies and religions are much more holistic than that, establishing worlds with specific rules and morals, and inviting people to participate in them, body, mind, and soul. 

This relation is not lost on David O. Russell, director of the multiple Oscar-nominated American Hustle. Speaking with Neal Gabler in the New York Times, Russell discussed the ways he creates worlds on film, and how this was influenced by particular religious interactions.


Categories: Americas, Films, Religion

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