The common admission that 'everything I know about religion I learned from the movies' is true for believers as much as for unbelievers. And at the movies, Catholicism is the American religion. As an intensely visual faith with a well-defined ritual and authority structure, Catholicism lends itself to the drama and pageantry of film. Beginning with the 1915 silent movie Regeneration and ending with Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, eleven prominent scholars explore how Catholic characters, spaces, and rituals are represented in cinema. Each of the contributors to Catholics in the Movies has chosen one movie from over one hundred years of moviemaking to discuss what happens when an organized religion - not just Bible stories or spiritual themes -
enter into a film. Arranged chronologically, Catholics in the Movies sets the films within a wider historical narrative while providing close readings of critical themes and images that go beyond the conventional. Several chapters focus on the many directors and screenwriters who were raised in Catholic families, and who explore this faith in complex and compelling ways. Authors look at film classics like Going My Way and The Song of Bernadette to reveal how Catholic characters simultaneously reflect outsider status as well as the 'American way-of-life.' They consider the violence of The Godfather and the physicality of The Exorcist not simply as antonyms for religion but as tightly linked to Catholic sensibilities. Lesser known films like Seven Cities of Gold and Santitos are
examined for their connection to historical movements like anti-communism and Mexican immigration. Tracing the story of American Catholic history through popular films, Catholics in the Movies should be a valuable resource for anyone interested in American Catholicism and religion and film.
Readership: Students and scholars of religion and theology; general readers interested in American Catholicism, religion and film
Colleen McDannell, Dr, Sterling M. McMurrin Professor of Religious Studies and Professor of History at the University of Utah-Salt Lake City