RR Films: Religion

The Orange Order has apparently asked its members to stop using the term ‘RIP’ to express grief or sympathy after a death. It said the phrase is unbiblical, un-Protestant, and a form of superstition connected to Catholicism. ffs.

Despite Jimmy McGovern’s excellent Broken on TV recently, I’m still not a fan of religion. But there have been plenty of films around the subject, for and against, light and serious. I was tempted to pick The Invention Of Lying but instead I’ll go with one of the serious ones, in which being of different religions is the cause of much grief: the powerful and engrossing Ida.

What films about religion would you recommend? Or warn us to steer clear of?

29 thoughts on “RR Films: Religion

  1. A classic film on the subject of religion and vocation is The Nun’s Story, starring Audrey Hepburn and Peter Finch. Another, more overheated exploration of the lives of nuns is the 1947 Powell and Pressburger psychodrama Black Narcissus, starring Jean Simmons and Deborah Kerr.

    On a much lighter note, I heartily recommend the Jay and Silent Bob film Dogma, which stars Kevin Smith, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Linda Fiorentino, Alan Rickman, Bud Cort, Salma Hayek, Chris Rock, Jason Lee, George Carlin, Janeane Garofalo, Alanis Morissette, and Jason Mewes.

    Ms Morissette memorably plays the role of God.

  2. Black Narcissus. A convent in the Himalayas – clash between eastern and western beliefs – clash between passion for Christ and bodily lust – clash between nature and deluded humans. Great stuff. Sorry, just realised Carole has nommed it above, so that’ll be a dond.

  3. In that spirit, i’ll go for one of my very all time faves – Queen Margot (or La Reine Margot overseas), Catholics vs Protestants vying for control of France. The Catholic Margurite Valois, sister of the King of France, is set up to marry the Protestant Hugenot, King Henry of Navarre ostenably to broker good will between to factions. Resulting in the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in which thousands of Protestant wedding guests are slaughtered. Ultimately of course, after the film time period, Henry becomes Henry IV, but as a Catholic. Paris for a Mass and all of that.

    • Another one – Mamet’s Homocide, where Joe Mantegna finds both a Zionist group operating out of a black neighborhood in Chicago, and his Jewish conciousness. This is Mamet though, so nothing is what it seems.

      For TV, I’ll go for Derek Jacobi in the Brother Cadfael series.

  4. There’s a French film from 2010 about a community of Christian monks in a monastery in Algeria at a time (1990s) of escalating civil war and terrorism there.

    I wasn’t entirely sure about going to see it despite the rave reviews but it was a gem of a film. very moving, beautiful music and some moral dilemmas to ponder along the way.

    Of Gods and Men

    Nothing to do with the Star Trek film of similar name.

    • Just watched the final scene on Youtube and I had forgotten how inexplicably affecting it was. Won’t post here as you need to have seen the whole film for it to work.

  5. Lots of possibles but I would go with the original “Passion of Joan of Arc” by Carl Dreyer. It’s a French silent film made in 1928 and although inevitably dated it captures Joan’s pain as she is tried for treason and burned at the stake. Jeanne Falconetti gives a brilliant performance as Joan and the final scenes at the stake are powerful and disturbing.

  6. Well, I never thought I’d say this, but I’m with the DUP on RIP (though not for the same reasons, I’m guessing). I have no religion, nor have I belief in any kind of survival after death. So I’ve always felt it was rather weird to expect dead people either to ‘rest’ or to be at ‘peace’. Unless, of course, you’re referring to their corpses not being disturbed as Charlie Chaplin’s was, for instance – but even so, I’m pretty sure it didn’t matter to him.

    As for the topic, how about Wise Blood, a film by John Huston based on a short story by Flannery O’Connor?

  7. Bedazzled again… the original… the scene where Peter Cook, as the devil, adds an “E” to an advert for a tabloid newspaper headline to create…

  8. I watched Timbuktu after a reco here in this series. Great film. I think I’ll go with Last Temptation of Christ. Found it to be fascinating. Just the year before I had actually visited Rozabal in Srinagar where Jesus coming down from the cross and settling in Kashmir is a prevalent myth.

    • tbh, Ravi, I was hoping you’d tell us about a great version of the Mahabarata, the Ramayana or something else featuring the fascinating Hindu pantheon of gods and goddesses…..

      • Haha. None of those have translated well onto the screen, either gaudy overproduced or playing fast and loose with the narrative. I can point to books definitely and stage maybe, but movies sorry. Even the almost perennial TV series are pretty bad.

  9. Don’t know if it counts as a “Film”, but if the Orange Lodge (particularly in it’s central Scotland incarnation) has ever been better skewered than by Robbie Coltrane’s “Mason Boyne” character, I’ll be surprised.

    And that RIP bollocks is…Masonesque. 😉

    (I think this is from 1985 or thereabouts, and the show was called “Laugh, I nearly Paid My Licence Fee”)

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