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Blog // Thoughts
January 23, 2006

Redemptive Film Analysis

Words of Grace is a thoughtful blog from church planter Joe Thorn. My interest in this blog relates to Joe’s discussion of film and faith. Whilst Joe does cite Al Mohler as a “hero”, he is also willing to critically distance himself from Mohler’s approach to culture. Words of Grace creates this distance through an […]

Words of Grace is a thoughtful blog from church planter Joe Thorn. My interest in this blog relates to Joe’s discussion of film and faith. Whilst Joe does cite Al Mohler as a “hero”, he is also willing to critically distance himself from Mohler’s approach to culture.

Words of Grace creates this distance through an approach to film that is willing to be both missiological and prepared to engage films as cultural artefacts in-their-own-right. These two issues are, to me, the point of failure for many theologically conservative approaches to film (particularly in the sense of defensive over-ethicalisation). Perhaps the best example of what Words of Grace has to offer is the blogpost on redemptive engagement with film.

I quite like the redemptive approach to film. Done well it can respect the internal genre and narrative structures of the film, as well as the filmakers intent. Done badly, well I guess anything is bad when done badly. I probably first used the redemptive approach when lecturing on the role film in the role of ethical imagination back in 1998. It has certainly appeared in a number of sermons over the years and I have a long draft paper on redemptive frameworks in The Big Lebowski.

However, I’m also aware that in my film-book proposal, redemptive film analysis played a minor role. This is for two main reasons. First, I’ve never to my satisfaction been able to ground the redemptive approach theological. My “intution” is that the approach is good, but beyond that it gets a little hazy for me. Second, it only seems to go so far in terms of understanding culture. Redemption is a very narrow lens and in the end it seems to yield what I would describe as moral fiction (or moral counternarrative). This is not a bad thing, but it also is neither as broad or telling as other approaches.

That said, I am encouraged by Words of Grace to look deeper into redemptive film analysis and see how I can incorporate more deeply.

[tags] Theology and Culture, Film, Faith and Film [/tags]

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