Theology and Cinema – CINE 340

CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 11/05/2021

Course Description

This course explores the use of theology in cinema. As an introductory course, it seeks to answer the questions that many Christians face about movies as an artistic medium. Namely, “How should Christians view cinematic arts?” The course will also focus on helping students approach movies with the eyes of a theologian. Specifically, it will instruct students to evaluate and interpret movies from a theological/philosophical perspective. Part of this will involve viewing specific movies and exegeting them to see what they reveal about culture and truth.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.

Rationale

The arts have historically been one of, if not the, major factor that influences culture. This is especially the case with cinematic arts. This reality has spawned a variety of responses by the church, both negative and positive. With this in view, this course aims to analyze the influence of theology in movies in order to help the student form a biblical attitude towards creative expression. It is also the aim of this course to allow the student to investigate ways in which Christians can use movies to positively influence culture.

Measurable Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Evaluate and analyze various theological and philosophical themes in movies, both Christian and non-Christian.
  2. Produce a rationale and defense for Christian involvement in movie making.
  3. Demonstrate a working knowledge of the major influence that cinema has had on culture.

Course Assignment

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview.

Discussions (4)

Overview for all Discussion Assignments
The student will complete 4 Discussions in this course. The student will post one thread of at least 300 words by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Thursday of the assigned Module: Week. The student must then post 2 replies of at least 100 words by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Monday of the assigned Module: Week, except for Module 8: Week 8, in which replies are due by 11:59 p.m. (ET) Friday. For each thread, students must support their assertions with scholarly citations supported by course content, outside materials, and/or Scripture references in MLA format.

Movie Review Assignments (2)

Each Movie Review must be 3–5 pages.  Movie reviews should be on a DIFFERENT movie than previously reviewed. You must pick a different movie for each review.

Movie Paper Assignment

Pick 1 of the movies (NOT previously used in Movie Reviews) from the approved list and analyze it, pointing out theological and philosophical themes that are present therein.

Then, construct an apologetic based on that film or 1 aspect of that film. For example, find a redemptive theme in 1 of the movies and expound on that. How might you use that to spark a spiritual conversation with friends? In this assignment, try to be creative and inventive.
Don’t try to force a Christian allegory on the movie that is not really there. Instead, analyze a character in the movie and his or her choices and the impact of those choices, or focus on one theme that is present throughout the film. Make this something unique that you would feel comfortable using. See instructions and rubric herein.

The Movie Paper must be 7–8 pages.

Christian Involvement in Cinematic Arts Assignment

Based on your research and reading for the class, write a rationale/philosophy for Christian involvement in cinematic arts. For example, this paper could focus on providing guidelines/boundaries that a Christian should follow in movie making, or answering how the church should respond to movies, etc. This paper must be 8-10 pages and is to be a personal philosophy of cinema as well as a defense for your own view of cinema.