When we watch film various visual elements direct our understanding of the narrative and its meaning. The subjective position of each viewer informs their reading of images in a multitude of ways. From this perspective, religion can be imaged in film and may be found by viewers but its interpretation will depend upon the relationships between media and audience. In Imaging Religion in Film: The Politics of Nostalgia
(Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), M. Gail Hamner
, Professor of Religion at Syracuse University, offers a dynamic theoretically informed methodology to examine the ethico-political dimensions of religion and film. She offers a semiotics of religion that relies on her reading of Charles Peirce and Gilles Deleuze, who aid us in thinking about how viewers react to and transform cinematic images. Through three case studies, including Akira Kurosawa's Dersu Uzala
(1972); Abbas Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry
(1997); and the Coen brothers' The Man Who Wasn't There
(2001), she explores how religion is imaged in social and discursive fields through notions of nostalgia and transcendence. In our conversation we discuss postmodern aesthetics, the pedagogy of self, philosophical gelling through mechanical reproduction, the political economy of film, Deleuzian relations of gaze, situation, and reflection, the space between humanity and animality, confessional ways out of alienation, and ideas about how to watch a film.