Cinema, Religion and the Romantic Legacy surveys the ways in which notions of religion and spirituality have impinged upon the cinema. Cinema is conceived as a post-Romantic form for which religion and spirituality can be unified only problematically. While inspecting many of the well-established themes and topoi of writing on religion and film (such as films about priests and 'Christ-figures') it also seeks to problematize them, focusing primarily upon the issues of religious representation foregrounded by such European directors as Kieslowski and Godard. Coates draws on theories of theologians, philosophers and cultural and literary critics including: Otto, Kant, Schiller and Girard. Addressing the relationship between religion and spirituality from a film studies specialist's perspective, this book offers all those concerned with film, media or religious studies an invaluable examination of artistic interaction with the theological and aesthetic issues of representation and representability. Paul Coates is Reader in Film Studies at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, and author of many books including: The Gorgon's Gaze (CUP), Film at the Intersection of High and Mass Culture (CUP), The Story of the Lost Reflection (Verso).
'A fascinating book, which explores with admirable competence and incisiveness the process of estrangement of religion and spirituality in the cinema, locating its source in the post-romantic era. Coates offers his reader a unique opportunity to trace in films, spanning a century of world film production, the cinematic presentations of God, the Devil, ghosts and other participants of religious discourse. The book contains brilliant, profound analyses of a wide spectrum of films, including productions by Lang, Godard, Kieslowski, Tarkowski, Herzog and many others.'Miroslaw Przylipiak, Professor of film and media studies, University of Gdansk, Poland 'This is a very perceptive analysis of the manner in which spiritual and religious themes have impacted upon movies over the decades… Covering a huge wingspan, it tackles everything from 'Frankenstein' to 'The Usual Suspects', starring our own Gabriel Byrne, to 'Taxi Driver'.' Modern Woman 'One of the incontestable pleasures of reading [Paul Coates] is the wide range of his learning, his command of languages, and the risks he takes in applying everything he knows to film… His book is […] one of the few on religion and film worth reading and a true tonic to reading theologians writing on cinema… His skill in negotiating the eddies of sometimes gnomic filmmakers in religious terms is one of the chief merits of a book that offers corrective readings of many films that have been interpretively abused by their admirers as often as by their detractors.' Canadian Journal of Film Studies
Contents: Introduction; Romanticism and religion: from horror to the sublime; The limits of representation; Supernatural persons; Aspects of popular religion; Spirituality and religion: from the Eastern Bloc to the USA; Appendixes; Index.