The resurgence of religion in cinema
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Religion is an oft returned to theme in cinema, yet 2018 has seen a proportionately huge number of films tackling questions of faith, specifically in relation to Christianity. Rather than Biblical epics like Mary Magdalene (2017), or genre films like The Da Vinci Code (2006) which draw from Christianity, these films address religion in a contemporary way, leading the audience to examine the place of faith in their own lives. 1. First Reformed This contemplative character study follows Ethan Hawke as a troubled priest, grappling with guilt, health problems, tragedy, all while counselling a depressed environmentalist. The crisis of faith which occurs results in an explosive climax, but it's the quitet introspection leading up to it that asks the real questions about religion and morality.
2. Apostasy Faith and family are at odds in this emotionally complex drama following a family of Jehovah's Witnesses who are instructed to cast out a daughter who falls pregnant. The all encompassing nature of the lifestyle is conveyed through claustrophobic camera work, and writer/director Dan Kokotajlo is unafraid to tackle the hard-hitting issues plaguing this community.
3. l'Apparition This French film follows a journalist (Vincent Lindon) sent by the Vatican to investigate a young girl (Galatéa Bellugi) claiming to be visited by the Virgin Mary. A clash of cynicism and faith characterises this film, brought to life so brilliantly by the talented cast.
4. The Children Act Another story about the Jehovah's Witness community - Emma Thompson plays a judge who must make a ruling on whether a 17 year old boy should be forced to accept the lifesaving blood transfusion that his religion forbids. The interaction between the two of them opens up a whole new world for them both - with interesting and unexpected consequences.
5. The Nun Rather than the reportedly disappointing 2018 horror movie, we are instead referring to the 1966 award-winning and controversially banned French film by Jacques Rivette, which is getting a restored re-release this month. The film follows Suzanne (Anna Karina), forced into life as a nun due to the circumstances of her birth, and facing countless abuses at the hands of the religious institution. The Nun will be available for the first time in the UK on DVD and Blu-ray on September 17th, released by StudioCanal.