Recently, a spate of publications on the relation between cinema and religion reignited a conversation that seemed forgotten, after the grand Hollywood biblical epics of the 1950s and early 1960s. The conversation had started with Parker Tyler’s book Magic and Myth of the Movies (1947) and the psychologist Carl Gustav Jung, and was later continued with Siegfried Kracauer’s Theory of Film bearing the indicative subtitle The Redemption of Physical Reality (1960); ultimately it found its more astute articulation in Paul Schrader’s Transcendental Style in Film (1972).
Although religion as the ultimate urgrund of signification, especially through the Neo-Thomist aesthetical views on speculum mentis, underpins the theories of a staunch realist like Andrè Bazin, no systematic discussion was ever undertaken about this complex issue. Yet even in the most atheistic period of the Soviet state, Sergei Eisenstein managed to infuse his Ivan the Terrible (1944), especially the second part (1958), with Christian iconography, as he abandoned the epic cinema of his early experiments and tried to develop his central character and his psychology over time. Religious semantics found always their way into the symbolic universe of many films, even if these films totally rejected the religious tradition that had formed them. ... More
Eleftheria Rania Kosmidou’s book European Civil War Films: Memory, Conflict and Nostalgia is a monograph on the study of the neglected subject of European civil war films that attempts to displace frameworks for the understanding of historical trauma and its role in cultural memory from a preoccupation with World War II and the Holocaust to the subject matter of Civil War.
The book examines the problematic of cinematic postmemory through a series of comparative case studies of late twentieth-century European films about the civil wars in Spain, Ireland, Former Yugoslavia, and Greece. Through a close study of Fernando Trueba’s Belle Époque (1992), José Luis Cuerda’s Butterfly’s Tongue (1999), Ken Loach’s Land and Freedom (1995) and The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006), Neil Jordan’s Michael Collins (1996), Emir Kusturica’s Underground (1995), Danis Tanović’s No Man’s Land (2001), and Theo Angelopoulos’s The Travelling Players (1975), Kosmidou explores how these films break with historical taboos of representation, what type of historical allegorizations they advance and what kind of cultural memory they create. According to the writer, the films make use of various stylistic and representational elements and succeed in making decisive contributions to cultural memory. Film narratives often take a romanticised and melodramatic approach to the Spanish Civil War, the Irish Civil War is pictured through personal and family relations, satire and comedy are prominent modes of representation in the films about the Former Yugoslavian Civil War, while Theo Angelopoulos’s Brechtian treatment of the Greek Civil War invites critical distance from the audience. ... More