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Winter 2014/Sacramento



TC530: THEOLOGY AND FILM. Libby Vincent.

DESCRIPTION: This course will address the interaction of theology and film within culture. The course will (a) view and discuss various/selected films; (b) provide the student with the tools needed for critical interaction with and interpretation of film; (c) to create a biblical and theological paradigm for film criticism.

SIGNIFICANCE FOR LIFE AND MINISTRY: Film is only one area of culture that impacts humanity. It is imperative for the work and ministry of the church for students to develop a relevant approach to interacting with film and addressing it, not only as film, but also, as a lens by which to see and think theologically. In many senses, our engagement with the world of film is a missional engagement-as we engage in all of life as believers, per the mandate of creation, so we engage in the dominant communication venues of our culture so that we might speak theological truth into our life situation.

LEARNING OUTCOMES: Students will be given the opportunity to develop tools to (a) comprehend the nature unique to theology and film; (b) engage in the interpretation of film; (c) work towards possible biblical and theological approaches to film criticism; (d) help the student create their own philosophy of theology and film for use in their own ministry.

COURSE FORMAT: Large/small group discussion and lecture. The course will meet weekly for three-and-a-half hour sessions. Films will be viewed prior to class as well as clips in class. During class time students will (a) engage in discussion about the assigned film; (b) consider and analyze both the nature of film and its theological implications; (c) engage in critical dialogue (with emphasis on theological critique) of the film.

REQUIRED READING: 13 films will be viewed: Crash, Moulin Rouge, Little Miss Sunshine, Monsters Ball, American Beauty, Zero Dark Thirty, Moonrise Kingdom, Lars and the Real Girl, The Avengers, Silver Linings Playbook, Up, Magnolia, The Dark Knight Rises.

Barsotti, Catherine, and R. Johnston. Finding God in the Movies. Baker, 2004. ISBN: 978-0801064814, Pub. price $22.00 [320 pp.].

Boorstin, Jon. Making Movies Work. Silman-James Press, 1995. ISBN: 978-1879505278, Pub. price $19.95 [224 pp.].

Johnston, Robert. Reel Spirituality. 2nd ed. Baker Academic, 2006. ISBN: 978-0801031878, Pub. price $25.00 [352 pp.].

________, ed. Reframing Theology and Film. Baker Academic, 2007. ISBN: 978-0801032400, Pub. price $28.00 [336 pp.].

________. Useless Beauty. Wipf & Stock, 2011. ISBN: 978-1610978293, Pub. price $23.00 [208 pp.].

Turner, Steve. Popcultured. IVP, 2013. ISBN 978-083083768, Pub Price $17.00 [250 pp].


  1. Viewing and journaling on 4 selected films (10%)

  2. 5 page critical analysis of Popcultured (assigned chapters) (20%)

  3. 5 page critical analysis comparing Making Movies Work and Reel Spirituality (20%)

  4. 10-15 page paper on a film/films (by approval of instructor) integrating themes of the course (i.e. film criticism, use of the biblical theological framework for viewing/utilizing film) with current ministry project. (50%)


RELATIONSHIP TO CURRICULUM: Meets the culture (CULT) requirement in Cultural Literacy for MA programs; meets the MACL in Integrative Studies requirement for an interdisciplinary course (IDPL).


NOTE: This ECD is a reliable guide to the course design but is subject to modification. Textbook prices are set by publishers and are subject to change.