Religious Cinematics

The Immediate Body in the Media of Film


  • S. Brent Plate Texas Christian University



embodiment, moving image, film history, ritual studies


Religious cinematics is concerned with the “moving picture,” and with its impact on the “moving body.” Particularly utilizing Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological descriptions of the “aesthesiological body,” this article briefly outlines a movement of the film viewer’s body that is pre-conscious, before rational awareness, in front of the film screen. Ultimately, it turns to Stan Brakhage’s unwatchable film, The Act of Seeing With One’s Own Eyes, to make the case for moments of “cinematic mysticism,” when the categorizing functions of film and the senses break down. In this way, a renewing function of filmic ritual emerges, not from a transcendental otherworldliness but from a grounding in the human sensing body.

Author Biography

  • S. Brent Plate, Texas Christian University

    S. Brent Plate is assistant professor of religion and the visual arts at Texas Christian University. Recent books include Walter Benjamin, Religion and Aesthetics, and Representing Religion in World Cinema. His book Blasphemy: Art that Offends will be published in 2006. He has received grants from Fulbright, The American Academy of Religion, and was Visiting Fellow at the Baker-Nord Humanities Center at Case Western Reserve University in the autumn of 2006. He is also Managing Editor of Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art and Belief.


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How to Cite

Plate, S. B. (2005). Religious Cinematics: The Immediate Body in the Media of Film. Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts, 1(2-3), 259-275.