Introduction: Filmmaking, Mythmaking, Culture Making

  • S. Brent Plate
Part of the Religion/Culture/Critique book series (RCCR)


In the 2001 Australian national census, over 70,000 people marked “Jedi” as their religion. Responding to this religious/political movement, Chris Brennan, director of the Star Wars Appreciation Society of Australia, stated, “This was a way for people to say, ‘I want to be part of a movie universe I love so much.’”1


Religious Tradition Film Theory Picture Show Mediate Nature Oral Speech 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    See Stewart Taggart, “Bad Movie Hurts Jedi Down Under,” Wired News (August 31, 2001). Available at,1284,54851,00.html.
  2. 2.
    Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger (London and New York: Routledge, 2000 [1966]), 64.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, Film Art: An Introduction 6th. ed. (New York: McGraw Hill, 2001), 216.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Emile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life excerpted in Durkheim on Religion W. S. F. Pickering, ed. (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1975), 140.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Gerald Mast, Marshall Cohen, and Leo Braudy, in the introduction to the section “Film and Reality,” in Film Theory and Criticism 4th. ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 3.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    See McLuhan’s classic and still relevant works, The Gutenberg Galaxy (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1962) and Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964). Also, see Elizabeth Eisenstein, The Printing Press as Agent of Change 2 vols. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1979)Google Scholar
  7. Friedrich Kittler, Gramophone, Film, Typewriter (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999). Still useful as an introductory work on the relation of religion and media is Walter Ong’s Orality and Literacy (New York: Methuen, 1982).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    James W. Carey, “A Cultural Approach to Communication,” in his Communication as Culture: Essays on Media and Society (Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1989), 21.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Manuel Castells, The Rise of the Network Society (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1996), 373. Although there are many intellectual writings sounding these warnings, one prominent work is Martin Heidegger’s “The Question Concerning Technology,” trans. William Lovitt and David Krell, Basic Writings (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1993), 307–341.Google Scholar
  10. 11.
    Clifford Geertz, “Religion as a Cultural System,” in his Interpretation of Cultures (New York: Basic Books, 1973), 87–125.Google Scholar
  11. 12.
    Lawrence Babb, “Introduction” to Media and the Transformation of Religion in South Asia Lawrence Babb and Susan Wadley, eds. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995), 2.Google Scholar
  12. 14.
    See Pierre Bourdieu, “Structures, Habitus Practices” and “Belief and the Body,” in his The Logic of Practice trans. Richard Nice (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1990), 52–65, 66–79.Google Scholar
  13. 16.
    Ella Shohat and Robert Stam, Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media (London: Routledge, 1994), 7.Google Scholar
  14. 17.
    For more on the relation of myth and ideology, see the recent works: Robert Ellwood, The Politics of Myth (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999)Google Scholar
  15. Bruce Lincoln, Theorizing Myth (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999)Google Scholar
  16. Robert Segal, Theorizing About Myth (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1999). The work that remains to be done in religious studies is to examine the ways in which myth functions as ideology and how this is tied to its media.Google Scholar
  17. 21.
    See Rachel Moore, Savage Theory: Cinema as Modern Magic (Durham: Duke University Press, 2000). In an intriguing way, Timothy K. Beal deals with similar topics in the chapter “Screening Monsters” in his Religion and Its Monsters (New York: Routledge, 2002). As Beal states in relation to Moore’s work, “the cinematic event is envisioned as a return to modernity’s repressed, a ‘modern primitive’ religious ritual” (ibid., 221 n.3).Google Scholar
  18. 24.
    See Robert N. Bellah, The Broken Covenant: American Civil Religion in a Time of Trial (New York: Seaburg Press, 1975).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© S. Brent Plate 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Brent Plate

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations