• “Screened Signs of Grace: André Bazin’s ‘Cinema and Theology’ and the Sacramental Facet of Film”

    Sérgio Dias Branco (see profile)
    Film Studies, Religious Studies, Theology
    Motion pictures, Religion, Catholic Church
    Item Type:
    Conference proceeding
    Conf. Title:
    Spirituality in the 21st Century: At the Interface of Theory, Praxis and Pedagogy
    Conf. Org.:
    Conf. Loc.:
    Prague, Czech Republic
    Conf. Date:
    23 March 2012
    Film, Catholicism
    Permanent URL:
    This paper is a reading of André Bazin’s article “Cinema and Theology”, an appraisal of “Cielo sulla palude” (“Heaven Over the Marshes”, 1949) that also reflects on the relation between film and theology. The reading takes into account Bazin’s ontology of cinema, which has been at times simplistically described as a belief in the simple transparency of the cinematic image. Yet we need to read him closely. When he talks about the connection between reality and what is on screen, he is not talking about a quantitative relationship, but about a qualitative one. His interest in the singularity of things challenges film creators and spectators to attend to the particularities of what is filmed and screened as well as to acknowledge that these are indefinable and can only be experienced. For Bazin, film has the ability to confront us with the evanescence of things, but also with their existence, an existence whose traces we see on screen. There is something miraculous about this, something that turns movies into objects of wonder. They have the capacity to increase our sense of the mystery of earthly things by capturing and screening it. It is no surprise then that he writes that “cinema is in itself already a kind of miracle”. As a Catholic, Bazin refuses to divorce the body from the soul and nature from grace. The paper confirms that the French critic saw film as having a sacramental aspect, given that film works may present visible signs of grace.
    Published as:
    Conference proceeding    
    Last Updated:
    6 years ago
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