Typically, the Bible in Cinema is discussed as source for narrative materials or, if the film is set in the modern world, by analysing the allegorical, typological, or allusive way it references the Bible. My project, of which this essay is a segment, intends to discuss, on the other hand, films in which the Bible appears as cultural object on screen, and does so as a productive element of story and character. Objects in the cinema by and large “are” content. Books as objects, on the other hand, “have” content. They convey a clear meaning in and of themselves. The Bible, more than most books, comes to the screen charged with centuries of variously transmitted contents, versions, interpretations, and varieties of cultural usage. The vast majority of western spectators share this repertory in some measure, and are aware of its value. Values such as these, as we know, can be exploited precisely because people have much invested in them. Treated as a commodity, the Bible generates narrative productivity as cultural object in many films, affecting storyline, characterization, even the outcome of the film. It can be sold, as I argue in this essay, in a literal as well as metaphorical sense.
|Keywords:||Bible, Cinema, Material Culture, Cultural Object, Narrative Productivity, Book as Character, Cultural Canon, Film Discourse|
Associate Professor Film Studies & Italian Studies, Department of Film & Digital Media, Department of Italian Studies, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California, USA
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