I recently completed a Master of Arts in Film Studies and am interested in discussing film academia and pretty much anything cinema related!
Specifically interested in Gnosticism as an emerging genre in film studies (The Truman Show, The Matrix trilogy, Dark City, Black Swan). I also like dark family dramas and anything by Malick and PTA.
Just out of curiosity: How much impact has the radical reevaluation of the historical evedence for the so called gnostic movement in antiquity in history and theology in recent decades had on research such as yours?
1) A great impact indeed. It's hard to talk about the creation of a new cinematic genre--which in of itself is a debated and somewhat arbitrary term in film studies--when theologians and history academics themselves debate whether Gnosticism is even a proper term. Fryderyk Kwiatkowski wrote an article in 2016 about the concept of Gnosticism in relation to fiction studies, stressing contemporary and accurate methodological approaches towards fiction with Gnostic components.
2)The biggest argument you hear from detractors like King and Williams is that typological definitions of Gnosticism as a single religion are grossly misleading, negating the heresiological foundations set forth by Church fathers, not to mention Gnostics were greatly influenced by other groups and ideologies (Platonism, Hermeticism, Persian, Greek, and Roman religious ideas and mysticism, as well as those of Judaism and Buddhism).
3)Kwiatkowski therefore suggests an "identity formation" methodology that avoids "definitional problems of modern scholarship" and seeks to align contemporary fictional works with ancient Gnostic texts and creation myths (particularly the Fall of Sophia).
4)That's not to say that typological methodlogies can't be used in limited sense. Many theologians and academics consider "gnostic" as a historical group rather than as a rhetorical noun and adjective that is describing an esoteric, spiritual knowledge of God and the divine origin of human beings; a typological categorization that Van den Broek describes as an inner enlightenment that once obtained, liberates the knower from the material world.
5)Van den Broek’s approach also fleshes out a Gnostic cosmogony that fiction studies academics could use for comparison: (A) a distinction is made between the highest, unknown God and the imperfect or plainly evil creator-god [the Demiurge], who is often identified with the God of the Bible;
6) (B) this is often connected with an extensive description of the divine world (Pleroma), from which the essential core of human beings [the soul] derives, and of disastrous
“fall” of a divine being (Sophia, “Wisdom”), in this upper world;
(C) as a result, humankind has become entrapped in the earthly condition of oblivion and death, from which it is saved by the revelation of gnosis by one or more heavenly messengers;
Eric G. Wilson wrote a very interesting book called Secret Cinema: Gnostic Vision in Film. Aside from various academics like Kwiatkowski who've written single articles about individual films with Gnostic interpretations, Wilson's book is currently the cornerstone for this new line of thought in film studies.
Thanks for this, very interesting to hear. Seems this research has then actually been better incorporated in film studies than in modern theology where it remains largely unknown.
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