Screen Savior: Cinema, History, and the Gospels

Graduate Courses

CINE 500 - Screen Savior: Cinema, History, and the Gospels

640 |Simon Richter |R 6-8:40pm

The recent furor over Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ is an indication of the fraught nature of any cinematic representation of Jesus. We may recall the sentimental piety of blockbuster epics such as Ben Hur and The Robe, but in fact throughout cinema history significant American and international directors have felt challenged to put Jesus on screen. From the silent classics of D. W. Griffith (Intolerance) and Cecil B. DeMille (King of Kings) to the provocative interventions of  Scorsese (Last Temptation of Christ), Pasolini (Gospel of Matthew), Buñuel (Milky Way), Godard (Hail Mary), and Denys Arcand (Jesus of Montreal), directors have tested the limits of cinema, faith, and the institutions of religion. This seminar features interpretation of the key cinematic depictions of Jesus from a variety of disciplinary approaches including Christology, the quest for the historical Jesus, Jewish studies, cinema studies, art history, literary studies, gender studies, and the culture wars. In addition to the films already mentioned, we will also discuss Zefferelli’sJesus of NazarethThe Greatest Story Ever Told (with Max von Sydow as Jesus), Barabbas, The Gospel of John, and Dogma, as well as a unit on comedic representations of Jesus (Monty Python’s Life of Brian, South Park, Ultrachrist,and Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter), concluding with an exploration of the controversies associated with Passion of the Christ.

last updated 06/23/2014 - 9:36am

Cinema Studies Program
209A Fisher-Bennett Hall ⋅ 3340 Walnut Street ⋅ Philadelphia, PA 19104 ⋅ (215) 898-8782