1st Edition

Salvation from Cinema The Medium is the Message

By Crystal Downing Copyright 2016
    204 Pages
    by Routledge

    204 Pages
    by Routledge

    Salvation from Cinema offers something new to the burgeoning field of "religion and film": the religious significance of film technique. Discussing the history of both cinematic devices and film theory, Crystal Downing argues that attention to the material medium echoes Christian doctrine about the materiality of Christ’s body as the medium of salvation. Downing cites Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu perspectives on film in order to compare and clarify the significance of medium within the frameworks of multiple traditions. This book will be useful to professors and students interested in the relationship between religion and film.

    Introduction: Toward a Union of Medium and Message. Part I: Theories of Film Salvation. Chapter 1: Let There Be Enlightenment: Salvation from Religion and Film. Chapter 2: Light from Light: Seeing Cinema Constellations. Chapter 3: Gazing at the Stars: Nudity on Screen. Chapter 4: Breaking the Fourth Wall: Salvation from the Screen. Part II: Salvation from Film Theory. Chapter 5: Enlightenment as Mass Deception: Certain Tendencies in Film Theory. Chapter 6: The Gift of Salvation: Derrida and Holocaust Cinema. Chapter 7: Seeing Cinema Differently: Salvation from C. S. Peirce. Chapter 8: From Delusion to Deleuzean Cinema: Salvation from Hugo.


    Crystal Downing teaches film adaptation, critical theory, and nineteenth-century British literature at Messiah College in Pennsylvania. In addition to her first three books, which apply poststructuralist insight to issues of faith, Downing has published numerous essays on film in journals such as Religion and the Arts, Film and History, Books and Culture, Literature/Film Quarterly, and The Cresset.

    "Salvation from Cinema is cogent, comprehensive, beautifully written, and stunningly consistent. With a masterful grasp of cinematic history and a lucid deployment of philosophers such as C.S. Peirce and J. Derrida, Downing both shows up the ideological work of film and lures readers to its ethical possibilities."

    M. Gail Hamner, Syracuse University, USA

    "A distinctive contribution to the study of religion and film."

    William L. Blizek, University of Nebraska-Omaha, USA

    "Downing eschews the 'gnostic' logic that films need to point 'beyond' themselves to higher divine realities, instead arguing that the message is incarnate in and cannot be separated from the medium. Her book is filled with trenchant analyses of films that support this thesis, demonstrating that how films show is part and parcel of what they show—and in the process, she helps us see a host of films in new ways."

    John C. Lyden, Grand View University, USA