Journal of Religion and Film

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Bryan Stone

"The Sanctification of Fear: 
Images of the Religious in Horror Films" 

From Robert Widdowson

"Hollywood movies possess a certain mythic quality when they represent scenes of violence. The “glamorization” of extreme acts of violence through the use of such techniques as slow motion, digital enhancement, and color distortion contribute to this mythic quality. Blockbusters command enormous budgets, allowing filmmakers to invent without limits. How should Christians – or any community concerned with peace – engage, interpret, or resist these blood-soaked yet “beautiful” film texts? How are Paul and the gospels, with their gaze fixed on the cross of Jesus, any different?"


Response to Robert Widdowson from the author, Bryan Stone 

"I would suggest that on-screen violence affects us negatively on at least two levels. First, it has a cumulative effect on us (especially “beautiful” violence) by numbing us to violence and desensitizing us to victims of violence. Second, on-screen violence (especially “counter” – violence) frequently attains its mythic quality by being portrayed as redemptive. Christians – or any community concerned with peace – could resist this violence in precisely the same way that Paul interprets the cross. For Paul, it is not the violence of the cross that saves. It is Christ on the cross that is redemptive as he exposes violence for precisely what it is. Christ makes a public spectacle of the powers on the cross, and unmasks the myth of redemptive violence and the mechanisms by which violence is perpetuated as redemptive. On both of the aforementioned levels, then, we can resist violence by likewise exposing its cumulative effects upon us and by unmasking its mythical quality as redemptive. Of course, one should also resist violence actively in the world through protest, nonviolence, and public policy. But, on the level of image and myth, the resistance is fundamentally a resistance rooted in suspicion and interpretation – a resistance grounded in exposing and unmasking. Those who know of Walter Wink’s trilogy on “the powers” will see that influence here, and I heartily recommend his work at this point."

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