“God on the Big Screen: A History of Hollywood Prayer from the Silent Era to Today” by Terry Lindvall— Coming Together

Lindvall, Terry. “God on the Big Screen: A History of Hollywood Prayer from the Silent Era to Today”, NYU Press, 2019.

Coming Together

Amos Lassen

Terry Lindvall’s “God on the Big Screen” demonstrates that the way prayer is presented in film during each historical period tells us a great deal about America’s broader relationship with religion. In the book, film history meets church history through the ritual of prayers.

Moments of prayer have been represented in Hollywood movies since the silent era and they often appear unexpectedly in films as diverse as “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm”, “Frankenstein”, “Amistad”, “Easy Rider”, “ Alien 3” and other non-religious films  as well as in religiously inspired classics such as “Ben-Hur” and “The Ten Commandments” and in epic films about the Holocaust such as “Schlinder’s List”. Terry Lindvall examines how films have reflected, and sometimes tried to prescribe, ideas about how one should pray. He surveys the landscape of those films that employ prayer in their narratives, beginning with the silent era and moving through the uplifting and inspirational movies of the Depression and the Second World War, the anti-establishment films of the 60s and 70s, and the sci-fi and fantasy blockbusters of today. Lindvall looks at how the presentation of cinematic prayer varies across race, age, and gender, and places the use of prayer in film in historical context thus showing the religious currents of those time periods.

I understand that “God on the Big Screen” will have, a companion documentary that is being prepared now.

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