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London: New course explores salvation on screen

Source: London Jesuit Centre

A new course starting this week at the London Jesuit Centre will explore how films depict salvation of various kinds, and in various ways; how we might reflect on this to deepen our understanding of the Christian understanding of salvation. Participants will have the opportunity to use film as a medium for sustained theological reflection; to explore how ideas are animated and given shape by stories; and to think critically about their own theological assumptions about salvation.

The basic format of each evening will be very simple: introductory talk; film screening; group discussion. Each week will be accompanied by an audio introduction which will enable further reflection on the film, and a reading from The Heythrop Library to provide some food for thought. (All evenings are from 6.30-9.30pm)

Week 1 - Wednesday, 17 January
Sacrifice: Gran Torino

To begin the course we think about Clint Eastwood's drama, which develops a story of moral regeneration against the background of a familiar lone-hero template. We will consider how to respond to the vision of sacrifice at the centre of the film, and how this vision corresponds to our understanding of the story of Christ.

Week 2 - Wednesday, 24 January
Guilt and repentance: The Three Burials of Malquiades Estrada

Many films have explored the dynamics of guilt and repentance, from the painful final scenes of La Strada to the nightmare-ish descent into madness of Mullhollland Dr. But few do so in such a powerful, mysterious way as this neo-Western by Tommy Lee Jones. We will consider what it might have to show us about sin, community and penance.

Week 3 - Wednesday, 31 January
Forgiveness: Le Fils

Forgiveness is a classic example of something which is made to look easy in film, which may be painfully difficult in real life. The Dardennes' meditative work does more than perhaps any other recent film to present the mystery of forgiveness, without fanfare or gloss.

Week 4 - Wednesday, 7 February
Hope: Children of Men

A disturbing and almost prophetically powerful film that seems to become more relevant as the years since its release pass. What does hope look like in a world that is falling apart, which seems to have no future? We will reflect on the way that the film addresses these questions, and see what they have to do with our own attempts to answer them.

Week 5 - Wednesday, 14 February
Sacrifice, revisited: Babette's Feast

To conclude the course, we return to the theme with which we began. In this gentle, humorous and beautiful film, we find another way of looking at the meaning of giving, sacrifice and loss. Does this bring us closer to the mystery at the heart of the Christian story?

The course takes place at London Jesuit Centre, 114 Mount Street 114 Mount Street, W1K 3AH


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