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Christ figures in films


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Braveheart, although there are certain moments whic like "The Matrix" are really not helpful, there's a clear attempt by Gibson to convey this (e.g cruciform pose), and I find aspects of it "Freedom" very helpful even if overall I think its a weak parallel.

Another popular one is MacMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and of course (more so than Pale Rider which was sorta a remake) Shane.

Matt

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Unless I missed it, 'The Green Mile' hasn't been mentioned yet.  This film didn't exactly wow me, but the protagonist is John Coffee, an innocent man who dies for the guilty.

And who heals, and brings back a Lazarus from the dead...and then there is the whole thing about the flies which reminds us of Beelzebub.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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Another that I suppose we should mention is Simon Birch, since the film was based on A Prayer for Owen Meany. Pity they made such a mess of the story in the film, but still some of the Christ figure carries through.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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I haven't seen the film version(s) in their entirety, but I'm partway thru the book Cry the Beloved Country. In the book at least, Arthur Jarvis is coming across as a convincing Christ figure - an innocent man who died for the sins of his people, for the purpose of reconciling different ethnic groups (a la Ephesians). The book is certainly informed by a profound spiritual sensibility.

To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

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Saw the trailer for that last night. Like with the ring trilogy, we now have Christmas to look forward to again. Only this time, we get to look forward to Christmas seven years in a row! grin.gif

-s.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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Need we point out Aslan in the upcoming The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe? Or is that a spoiler?

I think someone already noted that this thread is bound to be full of spoilers. But if any A&F persons haven't read TLtW&tW, it's never too late to have a happy childhood! Run (or click) to the bookstore or library of your choice and read the book before you see the movie.

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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In general, putting a Christ figure in films is a very tricky concept. There's always a fine line between cheesy and just downright wrong. I can only think of two films where the Christ figure is incorporated in such a way that it makes you take a step back and think about religion in general. What do you guys think?

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In general, putting a Christ figure in films is a very tricky concept. There's always a fine line between cheesy and just downright wrong. I can only think of two films where the Christ figure is incorporated in such a way that it makes you take a step back and think about religion in general. What do you guys think?

What two films are those?

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FWIW, The Passion of the Christ is a Jesus film, not a Christ-figure film.

Edited to add: Heh. I just remembered, since Darrel mentioned Aslan above, it may be that there is some room to debate whether Aslan is a Christ-FIGURE or Christ HIMSELF. Mrmando and I went several rounds on that question here a year and a half ago. But for the purposes of THIS thread, I'd be happy to place Aslan in the Christ-FIGURE category, since it's not like the Narnia movie is being based on the gospels or anything like that.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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K-Pax has fascinated me - both as a Christian and as a counselor. Though I'm not sure I would concur with the Christ-figure category, since I would put it at the "helping people accept the longing for transcendent life" category, it is worthy of consideration. What do we do with the catatonic "body" that remains when he "returns" to "heaven"?

Denny

Since 1995 we have authored a commentary on film, cinema in focus. Though we enjoy cinema as an art form, our interests lie not so much in reviewing a film as in beginning a conversation about the social and spiritual values presented. We, therefore, often rate a film higher or lower due to its message rather than its quality of acting or film-making.

Cinema In Focus Website

Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara Website

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FWIW, The Passion of the Christ is a Jesus film, not a Christ-figure film.

The distinction (from Peter Malone, Movie Christs and Antichrists)

The Jesus-figure is any representation of Jesus himself.

The Christ-figure is a character (from history, fiction, visual arts, poetry, drama, music, cinema) who is presented as resembling Christ in a significant way.

Edited by Darrel Manson
A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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evangelism33 wrote:

: Many believe the bunny to be a manifestation of God.

Then it would be a God-figure, not a Christ-figure.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 2 months later...

I have two figures, both female, and not at all like each other:

The first is Jasmin (played by Marianne Sagebrecht) in Bagdad Cafe, 1987. Jasmin is a fat German lady who wanders into a truck stop at the edge of the desert, and gradually transforms the place and the people in it. She in turn is transformed by them. There is a lot of humor in it, and it a bit off beat, but very moving.

The second figure is the little girl in The King of Masks, 1996, a Chinese film. She's loyal, forgiving, helpful in a way that threatens to sacrifice her place. The ending is so full of redemption it has stayed with me ever since I saw it.

Both are Christ figures for me.

Sara

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Sara, have you ever read Lloyd Baugh's Imaging the Divine: Jesus and Christ Figures in Film? He devotes a chapter to female Christ-figures, and includes Bagdad Cafe in there (along with La strada, Nights of Cabiria, Babette's Feast and Dead Man Walking -- which, um, I just remembered I mentioned here; apologies for repeating myself).

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Sara, have you ever read Lloyd Baugh's Imaging the Divine: Jesus and Christ Figures in Film?  He devotes a chapter to female Christ-figures, and includes Bagdad Cafe in there (along with La strada, Nights of Cabiria, Babette's Feast and Dead Man Walking -- which, um, I just remembered I mentioned here; apologies for repeating myself).

Peter,

No, I have not read Baugh's book, but I am elated he chose the figures in Bagdad

Cafe. And of course, Nights of Cabiria by Fellini.

I must get this book and I thank you for your reply and validation.

Sara

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Maybe it's not such a great film (though I've always been very fond of it myself since seeing it late at night back in my schooldays) but the scientist character played by Charlton Heston in The Omega Man is surely a Christ figure. He ends up dead in a crucified position but has given blood to ensure life carries on and the forces of darkness will ultimately be defeated. Could you read the Terence Stamp character in Theorem as being a Christ figure, albeit a pretty disrespectful one? The Knight in The Seventh Seal seems like a Christ figure to me as does the murdered daughter in The Virgin Spring (though the latter might be more open to dispute.) There are also Christian aspects to the figure of The Magician in the Bergman film of the same name (resurrection, mockery followed by ultimate triumph, a connection with the numinous mocked by the Pharasaical figures of the well to do.)

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  • 4 weeks later...

I included a brief definition of Christ-figure here. Sacrifice is often how we see X-figures used, but the best examples build on more than that. My faves are Cool Hand Luke, Breaking the Waves and Pale Rider. Only one of those actually has a sacrifice. Two involve the death of the Christ figure.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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My all time favorite Christ figure is Sydney Carton (played by Ronald Colman) in the old, old black and white film of Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities."

(I know we all remember those words: "It is a far far better thing that I do now than I ever done - it is a far far better place I go to than I have ever known." And then he steps up to the guillotine...)

Sara

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