Friday, September 5, 2008

Theology Over Popcorn & Images of God in FIlm

This week's case study looks at how popular films present images of God and the stories they tell about religion. We will be looking at two very different films presentations of faith and the divine coming from the Comedy Genre: Dogma and Bruce Almighty. Dogma (1999) tells the story of abortion clinic worker who is called upon by God to help save the existence of humanity after two renegade angels threaten it by trying to exploit a loophole and re-enter Heaven. Listen here to what producer/writer/director Kevin Smith has to say about religion and the film and religion in general. Bruce Almighty (2003) tells the story of a man who complains about God too often, so the almighty decides to give him his powers and responsibility to teach him how difficult it is to run the world. Here's what Tom Shadyac, director of Bruce Almighty, has to say about God and Religion in the film. While Dogma focuses its satire on organized religion and Church mythology Bruce Almighty deals with popular, playful interpretations and ideas about the character of God.

We will consider several issues including how religion and God are framed in these films and and the cultural factors or beliefs that seem to shape these presentations. To do this we will be looking at several film clips from Dogma (such as the introduction of Buddy Christ and how God is portrayed in the film) and Bruce Almighty (such as Bruce's first meeting with God, God's explanation of Free Will and the narrative set forth in the trailer). Use these clips to respond to the following questions.

Case Study Reflection Questions:

-How are the characterizations of God similar and/or different in these two films? What factors seem to influence how God is presented?
-Select two of the six religious film scholars we discussed on Wednesday and consider how their approaches would influence how you would interpret these films and the presentation of "God"?

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