Seite - 110 - in JRFM - Journal Religion Film Media, Band 06/02
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DOI: 10.25364/05.6:2020.2.10 110 | Sofia Sjö www.jrfm.eu 2020, 6/2, 110–113 Sofia Sjö Book Review Terry Lindvall, God on the Big Screen A History of Hollywood Prayer from the Silent Era to Today New York: New York University Press, 2019, 367 pages, ISBN 978-1-4798-8674-6 Can we learn something about church history by watching films? That films can be used to reflect on theological questions has been illuminated by a range of scholars. The ability of film to tell us about the role of religion in so- ciety and about attitudes towards religion today has also been made evident. Still, considering film’s short history, any discussion of Christian beliefs and film would be limited to about a century. However, that films can offer note- worthy insights is illustrated by Terry Lindvall’s God on the Big Screen: A History of Hollywood Prayer from the Silent Era to Today. As the title suggests, Lindvall’s perspective is clearly defined and highly focused. Lindvall explores the North American context and looks specifical- ly at Christian prayer – at how characters pray, the consequences of their prayers in the film narratives, what prayers bring to character development, what the prayers suggest about attitudes to religion, particularly for Chris- tianity and the Christian churches, and to the approach to a divine being in different periods. These various stages are related both to the chronology of film history – thus, for example, the first chapter, titled “Silent Prayers (1902–1927)”, focuses on silent films – and to history more broadly, whether in changing experiences of religion or external events. Chapter 3, titled “Fox- holes Prayers (1939–1945)”, thus explores how World War II came to influ- ence the depiction of prayer in film, while chapter 5, titled “Cynical Prayers (1964–1976)”, draws on a critique of institutional religion and aspects of religious decline.
JRFM Journal Religion Film Media, Band 06/02