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Wicked Cinema

Sex and Religion on Screen

By Daniel Cutrara

Publication Year: 2014

With close readings of films such as The Last Temptation of Christ, Crimes and Misdemeanors, and Closed Doors, this book investigates cinematic representations of transgressive sexuality within Christianity, Judaism, and Islam to argue that religious believers have become the new “Other”.

Published by: University of Texas Press


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p. C-C

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiv

In the 1980s and 1990s, as part of the Catholic Church’s desire to use the media to evangelize, the Jesuit order sent a number of priests, including myself, to graduate programs in film production/screenwriting. The Order expected two possible outcomes from the conferral of these degrees: that we would form a production...

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pp. 1-17

Millions of people have watched in delight what has now become an iconic image from The Sound of Music: Maria (Julie Andrews) twirling on a grassy hill with its backdrop of snow-covered mountains. Director Robert Wise’s musical adaptation of the Von Trapp story was a huge box office success and a favorite of the Academy, winning five awards. On occasion, I still sing to myself...

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1. Sex and Religion: At Ground Zero of the Culture Wars

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pp. 18-34

When I was a Jesuit novice, a group of us slipped out for a surreptitious outing to a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The number of transgressive audience members amazed me. Some dressed up as the main characters of the movie and lined up in front of the screen to perform the dance numbers. Others filled in gaps of dialogue with witty remarks and created...

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2. Faith: Transgressing Gender and the Possibility of God

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pp. 35-75

Many films disp arage or call into question the rationality of faith and with that, the character of the believer. This chapter begins to explore the disjuncture between cinematic representations and the religious beliefs of more than four billion followers of the Abrahamic religions. These onscreen depictions of faith,...

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3. The Faithful: Freedom and Fanaticism

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pp. 76-115

Of the films in the 1980s and 90s that portray believers, most ignore the vital aspects of their relationship with God, instead depicting believers as fanatics or mindless drones. While these portrayals could be dismissed as one-dimensional or stereotypical, I believe their existence has significant ideological implications...

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4. Sacred Servants: Desiring the Forbidden

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pp. 116-156

The cinematic portrayal of the relationship between believers and their God reflects society’s conflict over the cultural bias that values the spirit over the flesh. Exploring this conflict, many films frame the believer’s unbounded sexual desire as...

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5. Transgressing Divinity: Gospels of Envy

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pp. 157-204

With each chapter, my examination of the cinematic depiction of religion has moved up a rung on a hierarchical ladder, from the base of faith to the believer, the minister, and now the Divine. In this chapter, I offer a queer reading on films that...

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6. The Believer in Bondage

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pp. 205-220

The preceding chapters of Wicked Cinema examine films produced in the 1980s and 90s that make believers a dangerous Other through the depiction of their religious experiences, their practices, and the God they worship. This othering—whether it is through feminization, structured absence, or abjection—is similar to...


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pp. 221-244


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pp. 245-254


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pp. 255-266

E-ISBN-13: 9780292754737
E-ISBN-10: 0292754736
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292754720
Print-ISBN-10: 0292754728

Page Count: 280
Illustrations: 8 b/w photos
Publication Year: 2014