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CLS Class Highlight – Crafting the Cinematic Jesus

Mary Magdalene photo promoting the cinematic jesus class

What class?

Crafting the Cinematic Jesus

Why is it cool?

Have you ever wondered why filmmakers choose to portray historical figures a certain way? Or why their characters make the decisions they do? Many factors can contribute to how a movie presents information to an audience. Crafting the Cinematic Jesus examines just that, exploring different interpretations of Jesus and Gospel characters as they are portrayed through film.

“The class investigates how, with cinematic tools, filmmakers craft Jesus according to their own interpretation and the culture and time in which they live,” said Nina Livesey, SME for the course. “They make the Jesus story serve their own purposes.”

Films and associated readings from the course provide a framework to help students understand the extent to which conceptions of biblical characters are not fixed, but variable. After examining the course material, students will understand that portrayal of these characters often changes over time, and how they are depicted can depend on variables such as the film director, the cultural environment during the film’s release, cinematic technique and myriad other factors.

Crafting the Cinematic Jesus examines many films from over the last hundred years, including King of Kings, Jesus Christ, Superstar and The Passion of the Christ, among others. All films included in the 8-week course will be made available for online viewing free of charge. Inviting students to explore the variety of depictions of Jesus—a character with whom many students are already familiar—allows them to critically examine assumptions regarding the lives, beliefs and actions of the characters portrayed. They will leave the class with experience in film analysis, scripture analysis, the skills to recognize the role culture plays in the film medium and a stronger command of written communication overall.

See what else is offered by the College of Liberal Studies.

Mary Wuestewald
Mary Wuestewald specializes in digital and content marketing at OU Outreach. In 2015, she earned a master's degree in Strategic Communication from OU’s College of Journalism and Mass Communication. She currently contributes to Insight magazine, the CLS blog and CLS social media efforts.

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