Of Myths and Monster Hunters, Part 2: The Divine Player and Visual Theology in the Films of Paul W.S. Anderson

This is Part 2 of 2 in a series examining the religious filmmaking and visual theology of Paul W.S. Anderson. In the first piece, Anderson is postured as a religious filmmaker who deserves critical attention to that aspect of his filmmaking. The following piece, using the theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher as a resource, is an auteur analysis of the visual grammar of Anderson’s films that argues his visuals invoke a sense of a “divine player” through their resemblance to the visual grammar of video games.

If Paul W.S. Anderson is a religious filmmaker, as I argued in Part 1, then critics and film writers, as well as religion and culture writers, shouldn’t ignore this aspect of his filmmaking. What follows—a breakdown of his unique style through the theological tools provided by Liberal theology—is just one possible interpretation of religion and spirituality in Anderson’s filmography.


Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834), a divisive German Pietist theologian from the turn of the century a few centuries ago, is considered the patriarch of Liberal theology, and his articulation about the nature of theology provides a useful lens for understanding the style of Anderson. 

He is arguably most famous for his articulation of religion as a feeling of utter dependence on the Divine. Because he didn’t think humans could have any direct knowledge about God, the task of the study of religion (which we will call theology, even though he doesn’t) is chiefly anthropocentric; to study theology is to study humans. But his idea of religious experience as a feeling of utter dependence is what concerns us here.

Continue reading on BostonHassle.com.

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