The Hidden God

One of my offshooting interests in film is its thematic interplay with religious traditions and “spirituality”–which not only happens more often than is generally recognized, but also typifies a great many of the most highly esteemed films and filmmakers of the medium.

However, it’s the sort of thematic context that is difficult to discuss in intelligent ways without forcing theological paradigms or destroying some of the mystery and affect of many of these films.

Accordingly, the Museum of Modern Art in New York has come up with a solution: it will examine the “hidden” or “absent” spirituality in its new film series, entitled “The Hidden God: Film and Faith” to be screened from December 4, 2003ñFebruary 27, 2004. It will include 30 films, but so far it only lists eleven–six or seven of which are among my favorite films (Ordet, La Rayon vert (Summer), Andrei Rublev, The Night of the Hunter, Winter Light, and The Flowers of St. Francis).

From their website:

A recurring subject in modernist art, the idea of a hidden God has acquired a particular resonance in the language of cinema. Movies with spiritual themes have been made throughout the film-producing world since the emergence of the medium in the 1890s, but it is with the advent of the sound period in the late 1920s that the theme of a hidden spirituality, or, alternatively, of spiritualityís absence, appeared. Since then, many movies have simultaneously insinuated and disguised the mystery that believers call God. This exhibition presents thirty feature films that explore this theme, by filmmakers such as Robert Bresson, Roberto Rossellini, Luis BuÒuel, Ingmar Bergman, Clint Eastwood, and Harold Ramis.

Accompanying the series is the publication The Hidden God: Film and Faith, comprising fifty essays by scholars, critics, and curators, now available through the Museum.

According to, some of the publication’s contributors include Dave Kehr, Michael Wood, Kent Jones, Phillip Lopate, Andrew Sarris, and Martin Scorsese.