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Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2003"Lyden's book is well-written, insightful, and especially engaging for anyone who loves movies."-Religious Studies Review
"..offers several new perspectives on this increasingly popular and gradually more critical area. It also is wellsuited for the religious studies classroom. Lyden's writing is clear, and he nicely describes some of the more difficult theories of religion in ways that are accessible to undergraduates. In fact, the next time I teach my course "Myth and Ritual on Film" I will assign Film as Religion because of its analogizing methods of showing how film does indeed function as religion in contemporary U.S. culture."-Journal of the American Academy of Religion
"Lyden offers perceptive criticisms of some of the most influential ways of talking about myth."
- Crisis Magazine
”Lyden has articulated a well-defined methodology that relies on some of the best resources religious studies can bring to the table." - Film Quarterly
"Lyden lays an imrpessive and sound foundation for his vision: to provide a systematic method for connecting religion and film studies. . . . This is truly significant, immensely compelling, and dynamically provocative work. Essential."
Film as Religion argues that popular films perform a religious function in our culture. Like more formal religious institutions, films can provide us with ways to view the world and values to confront it. Lyden contends that approaches which interpret films only ideologically or theologically miss the mark in understanding their appeal to viewers. He develops an alternative method which shows how films can be understood as representing a "religious" worldview in their own right.
Lyden surveys the state of the study of religion and film, offering an overview of previous methods before presenting his own. Rather than seeking to uncover hidden meanings in film detectable only to scholars, Lyden emphasizes how film functions for its audiences-the beliefs and values it conveys, and its ritual power to provide emotional catharsis. He includes a number of brief cases studies in which he applies this method to the study of film genres-including westerns and action movies, children's films, and romantic comedies-and individual films from The Godfather to E.T., showing how films can function religiously.