Buies Creek, N.C.—Film reflects the styles, mores, thought and values of the times we live in, but it also reflects human spirituality. Dr. Kenneth Morefield, associate professor of English at Campbell University, has edited a second volume on spirituality in film, “Faith and Spirituality in Masters of World Cinema,” published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing to be released in the summer of 2011.
The book surveys movie directors and their films from the early 20th century to contemporary film makers and how film reflects society’s view of religion. Many of the films of German director Tom Tykwer, for example, deal with changes in religious beliefs over the latter half of the 20th century.
“Tykwer’s films can come across as being very critical of religion, critical towards the institutional church. I think that isn’t atypical of the films of that era—like a child rebelling against authority,” Morefield said. “By the 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond, many films would be about looking for religious alternatives or the search for religious identity in the modern world.”
Many of Tykwer’s films and those of other directors play with the theme of free will versus predestination, Morefield added. “That to me is a very religious or faith-oriented question and has at its core a search for identity and purpose, especially now.”
There is a hunger for some kind of transcendence in a lot of films, a longing for some sense of purpose and disappointment in what is perceived as a lack of purpose, Morefield added.
Why study film? Morefield paraphrases the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley who points out in his essay, “A Defense of Poetry,” that imagination is the moral instrument and the value of art is that it exercises one’s imagination.
“Imagination is key to Christian morals of which the essence is ‘Love your neighbor,’ and I can’t love my neighbor without being able to understand the way he feels,” Morefield said. “Film can make people more empathetic. Through a skilled artist’s imagination, it helps us understand people who are different from us.”
Dr. Kenneth Morefield graduated from Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Va., with a Bachelor of Arts in English. He received both Master of Arts and Ph.D. degrees in English from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. Morefield edited and was a contributor to the essays contained in Faith and Spirituality in Masters of World Cinema, volumes I and II, Published by Cambridge Scholars Press.
Photo Copy: Dr. Ken Morefield, professor of English at Campbell University.