Why do we watch movies? If we read in search of more life, as Harold Bloom is fond of saying, then we watch movies, this book proposes, in search of wonder. We watch movies in search of awe-inspiring visions, transformative experiences, and moments of emotional transcendence and spiritual sublimity. We watch movies for many of the same reasons that we engage in religion: to fill our ordinary evenings and weekends with something of the extraordinary, to connect our isolated, individual selves to something that is greater than ourselves, and because we yearn for something that is ineffable but absolutely indispensable. This book, through an exploration of some of the most intriguing films of the past two decades, illustrates how movies are partners with religion in inspiring, conveying, and helping us experience what Abraham Joshua Heschel refers to as "radical amazement": the sense that our material universe and our ordinary lives are filled with more wonders than we can ever imagine, and that it takes spiritually—as well as cinematically—trained eyes to uncover these ever-present ocular gems. In addition to illustrating how films utilize religious themes and theological motifs to convey a sense of wonder, this book offers new interpretations of key films from canonical American directors such as Martin Scorsese, Terrence Malick, Richard Linklater, Wes Anderson, and the Coen brothers.
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