Panel examines influence of Catholicism on Scorsese

 The unique contribution of Catholicism to the cinema, and particularly the work of Martin Scorsese, was examined in a panel discussion at the Watershed in Bristol last week.

Ian Christie, a professor of film and media history at Birkbeck College, and co-editor of 'Scorsese on Scorsese' and Father Robert King, Clifton Diocese Interfaith Officer, took part in the event which was part of the 'Festival of Ideas'.

The discussion opened with the first seven minutes of Mean Streets, which has Scorsese himself doing the voice-over.

Professor Christie said: "Charlie's story, like so many of his characters, shows how people face choices and how they make those choices. There is conflict between the experience in church and on the streets. "You don't make up for your sins in the Church you make up for them on the streets...."

He continued: "Growing up as a Catholic in Little Italy in New York shaped the young Scorsese's outlook, and continues to influence his choice of subject and the moral concerns he expresses in his films. To look at his films without an awareness of their spiritual dimension is to miss an important part of what makes Scorsese one of today's great artists."

The professor spoke about Scorsese's faith from childhood experiences: the influence of priests, one young one in particular, the Second Vatican Council and his thoughts of being a priest himself.

The one Scorsese film shown during the festival was Raging Bull. In that movie the redemptive theme is shown as Jake allows himself to be brutally punched in the ring to atone for the wrong he thinks he's done.

Father Robert said: "I was delighted to take part in the spirituality and film discussion. It is imperative that the Church is engaged with contemporary media. I was particularly excited to discuss the influence of Catholicism in the films of Martin Scorsese and the religious experience that cinema offers the viewer."

He said: "My input on the panel was to highlight the positive aspects of human anthropology in Gaudium et Spes, and its reflection on what it is to be created by God. Also, in the tension of others' lives we are confronted with a religious experience, not only out of empathy with a character, but in how we interpret another's response to God's call to be holy."

BRISTOL - 21 May 2007 - 393 words

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