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Title: Screened Signs of Grace: André Bazin’s “Cinema and Theology” and the Sacramental Facet of Film
Authors: Branco, Sérgio Dias 
Keywords: Film studies; Theology; André Bazin
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Inter-Disciplinary Press
Serial title, monograph or event: Spirituality: New Reflections on Theory, Praxis and Pedagogy
Place of publication or event: Oxford
Abstract: This paper is a reading of André Bazin’s article “Cinema and Theology”, which reflects on the relation between cinema and theology. It also appraises (and praises) the achievement of Heaven Over the Marshes (Cielo sulla palude, 1949), which is developed in another essay that concentrates on this film. 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 Bazin talks about the connection between reality and what is on screen, he is not talking about a quantitative relationship, but about a qualitative one — as he clarifies in another text, “Cinematic Realism and the Italian School of the Liberation”. His interest in the singularity of things challenges cinema 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, cinema 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 according him 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. “Cinema and Theology” echoes Flannery O’Connor’s words on art in “The Church and the Fiction Writer”. The article confirms that the French critic saw film as having a sacramental aspect, given that film works may present visible signs of invisible grace.
ISBN: 978-1-84888-139-6
Rights: openAccess
Appears in Collections:FLUC Secção de Artes - Artigos e Resumos em Livros de Actas

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