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Darrel Manson

Films about sacrifice

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New member Jon Pahl notes in his intro he's working on a chapter for a book and needs films about sacrifice. I thought it might be good to get a topic going. Jon: feel free to clarify just what you're looking for -- we'll probably ignore that and head off on our own tangents, but it will be a start.

The obvious films about sacrifice would be Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List.

A more obscure film would be The Deep End.

The Harry Potter series could fit.

Matewan or Norma Rae

Ulee's Gold

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Off the top of my head, passing by the computer from one activity to another:

Babette's Feast

The Diary of a Country Priest

Into Great Silence

A Man for All Seasons

more later.

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Jason Matzner's Dreamland from last year has some great performances in it. IMDB describes the film as "A young woman who lives in a desert trailer park must choose between caring for her hapless father and sick friend or fulfilling her own destiny."

-s.

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There's quite a lot of sacrifice in APOCALYPTO.

Welcome, Jim! I need to head out the door, but while I'm sitting in the barber chair I'll see if I can come up with a few titles a little closer to what you're looking for. Off the top of my head.

Ron

PS How about SWEENEY TODD?

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The Magnificent Seven, especially the death scene. Each of the four who are killed is shot while saving someone.

Also the scene in which the old gunslingers all consider the things they have and don't have.

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I also thought of Letters from Iwo Jima, but then thought just about any Eastwood film could fit here, although I think Letters is a prime example.

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I mentioned this in the other thread, but just in case it's relevant here, too...

Click here for an article by Bryan P. Stone on the relationship between religion and violence in the films of the 1990s; he looks at the 20 top-grossing films for each year between 1990 and 1998 and groups the ones that deal with religion and violence into "Religion as a comfort and aid to victims of violence", "Religion as supportive of violence" (including both "righteous or redemptive violence" and "immoral or corrupt violence"), "Religion as supporting the rejection of violence" (only three films: Pocahontas, Dances with Wolves and Pulp Fiction), and "Religion as juxtaposed to violence".

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I mentioned this in the other thread, but just in case it's relevant here, too...

Click here for an article by Bryan P. Stone on the relationship between religion and violence in the films of the 1990s; he looks at the 20 top-grossing films for each year between 1990 and 1998 and groups the ones that deal with religion and violence into "Religion as a comfort and aid to victims of violence", "Religion as supportive of violence" (including both "righteous or redemptive violence" and "immoral or corrupt violence"), "Religion as supporting the rejection of violence" (only three films: Pocahontas, Dances with Wolves and Pulp Fiction), and "Religion as juxtaposed to violence".

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Thanks to all who posted suggestions for "Films about Sacrifice."

I'm working on a chapter for the Routledge Companion to Religion and Film, edited by John Lyden--and I'm doing the chapter on "Sacrifice."

Many of the films you suggest are excellent, and I'll be taking a look at them all.

Here's my list/outline, so far, with "first runners up."

Main point: Any film with a death in it might be a sacrifice, since any death on a screen represents a surrogate or substitute whose execution or death; serves to compress the fear/desire of directors/viewers, and displaces it onto an actor in a particular scene. But some films comment on the origins and function of ritual killing in explicit ways that also communicate something significant about the culture represented in the film. As an American religious historian, I'm particularly interested in the "sacrifices" created in the U.S., for "American" purposes, and what they might say about being American. More specifically, I see trajectories in tension in the history of film between those films that critique sacrifice and those that recommend sacrifice as essential to create or uphold the social order. Needless to say, the "sacrifices" I have in mind aren't necessarily associated with traditional religious traditions, but any human ritualized killing (or giving) might fit the bill.

I. The Birth of A Nation (1915): the "sacrifices" of the Civil War (and lynching) build a nation. . . .

--along with literally DOZENS of silent films explicitly entitled "Sacrifice"(check out imdb) in the 1910s

II. King Kong (1933): we need to sacrifice the acquisitive "animal" in us in order to have "civilization" (defined as racial/gender purity)

--need more here from this era

III. Rebel without a Cause (1955)--the sacrifice of youth in the cause of gender clarity (James Dean becomes a man through enduring tests/violence)

IV. Halloween (1978)

--Michael ("messenger of God") sacrifices youth because of their lust; but no end to the sacrifices are possible because Michael is "pure evil"

V. Saving Private Ryan to Apocalypto (2006)

--the empire is built on sacrifices. . . .

That's the basic plot as I have it now. First runners-up and films that I'll probably comment on include:

Pasolini, Medea, 1969

Tarkovsky, The Sacrifice, 1986

I like the suggestion of Babette's Feast as a "good" sacrifice, and I'll probably refer to Jesus of Montreal as a "sacrifice" to consumerism, as well. . . Thanks for any other help you can give. . . .Jon Pahl

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I'd love to hear more of your suggestions; these are very thoughtful. I don't know Into Great Silence. . . .

Thanks-- Jon Pahl

Babette's Feast

The Diary of a Country Priest

Into Great Silence

A Man for All Seasons

more later.

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Picnic at Hanging Rock may fit will in your category II.

Other Peter Weir films that deal with various kinds of sacrifice -- Galipolli, Mosquito Coast (maybe the anti category II), Dead Poets Society

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The Ox-Bow Incident -- I'd have to look at that again, but as I recall watching it in a post-9/11 world may lead us to question if we want to sacrifice justice for security.

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This is too good of a category to let stagnate.

Not really fitting Jon Pahl's parameters (I think I warned him we'd go off on tangents), but Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles is an excellent film of a sacrifice made by a father for a son, even though the redemption in the film comes out much differently than planned.

A doc to consider might be Body of War (probably will be released about April).

Opal Dreams or Lars and the Real Girl in which communities sacrifice "reality" as a way of loving someone.

Stuff I've seen at festivals recently that involve sacrifce: Noodle (Israeli flight attendant tries to reunite Chinese child with his deported mother), Baptism of Blood (Brazilian Domincan liberation theology during the military dictatorship), The Trap, (how far would you go to save your child?)

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For anyone interested in this topic in general, I highly recommend Steel City, a 2007 release that hardly anyone saw. Nearly made my top ten for the year. Features John Heard -- so you know you can't go wrong!

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I'm bumping this, because I just got this message from a friend:

Hey Jeff ... Need a movie suggestion. Each year at Easter I try to do some stuff with the kids. I watch "The Passion" each year with the older kids and wanted to do a series of movies this year on sacrifice. I have "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Gran Torino" on my list too, but was trying to think of a couple more options. Any suggestions? Thanks

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Yeah, need to update this category a bit.

May not work in the context of kids that JO mentions above, but Winter's Bone deserves consideration in this topic.

The Toy Story trilogy may fit here as well.

War docs often show extraordinary sacrifice. Restrepo comes to mind immediately, but others could be just as good.

Environmental doc: No Impact Man

I wonder which Miyazaki film would best fit the bill.

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The Double Life of Veronique

Nostalghia

The Widow of St. Pierre

Hawaii, Oslo

Lars and the Real Girl

That's what comes to mind. Not terribly kid-appropriate, though.

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I'm bumping this, because I just got this message from a friend:

Hey Jeff ... Need a movie suggestion. Each year at Easter I try to do some stuff with the kids. I watch "The Passion" each year with the older kids and wanted to do a series of movies this year on sacrifice. I have "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Gran Torino" on my list too, but was trying to think of a couple more options. Any suggestions? Thanks

When he talks about "the older kids" what ages are we talking? Similarly, if he's thinking of Pan's Labyrinth what ages? (I just ask because posting it here rips it from the context and it's hard to know what s/he means by "the kids")

Matt

Edited by MattPage

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