Films from Literature ENG 2400 Spring 2024 0565

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

  • March 22 Religious Symbolism
  • #93390

    Prof. Masiello

    Some background, first. I try to insert new film clips whenever they are relevant. With 2021’s Dune, I was hoping to find some scenes that would work in this presentation on religious items in films. The novel Dune has Islamic and Biblical references but they are largely erased in how the film is presented, so there is nothing from Dune here.

    Regarding director Steven Spielberg, it is widely known that he is Jewish, yet he has used interesting Christian symbolism in some of his popular works.

    (When you watch the clips from Romeo and Juliet, you may have noticed that Juliet wears a cross. Again, as with other female characters we have discussed, such a costume detail is deliberate and is supposed to be meaningful…)

    Regarding this compilation of religious symbolism in films:

    1) Did this presentation surprise you in any way? Explain.

    2) Prior to this presentation, mention any times while watching films on your own where you sensed there was some religious intent–but not obviously in religious movies like The Ten Commandments or Jesus Christ Superstar, i.e. in a non-religious story.

    3) Were there any scenes in the presentation that you liked or disliked and why?

    4) Does it enrich your film viewing to find examples of symbolism (remember we looked at Sexual Symbolism weeks ago)? Please explain.


    Mu Song

    1) Yes, there were a couple of scenes from films I watched when I was younger that I didn’t realize had religious references, especially in the Superman movie I didn’t realize the amount of religious references the movie made like when Superman was floating in space in a pose similar to when Jesus was crucified.

    2) The Matrix follows the “chosen one” story, which resembles Jesus’s story as the chosen one. The movie isn’t really religious but I felt like there was some religious influence in the making of the story since it follows Neo becoming the leader of these people and the one to lead them to freedom. Mu, I know what you are talking about with Neo, yet there weren’t any visual Christ references, right?

    3) There weren’t any scenes I necessarily disliked, I liked the Superman scenes since it was something I watched when I was younger and had a lot of fond memories of. There were a lot of movies I’ve heard about but never got to watch like Elvis and I didn’t know that Blues and Gospel influenced his style. Elvis is an impressive movie, and it was directed by Baz Luhrmann, who also directed Leo DiCaprio’s Romeo + Ju;iet.

    4) I think being able to notice the symbolism in movies allows me to appreciate more how the movies were made and it feels like an easter egg when I notice those things. So I think that symbolism does enrich my viewing experience.


    Tshari Yancey

    – I was surprised by these films having a heavy theme of religious references in it because I never noticed it before. Especially when looking back it can have double meanings like ‘Carrie’ where her mother was super religious and used Jesus to justify her actions and abuse carrie. And ironically at the end that’s how she dies resembling Jesus on the cross.  Tshari, I once thought Carrie’s mother was intended to resemble Jesus, but it is St. Sebastian, a Christian martyr who was shot by arrows–as was shown in the video.

    ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’  film’s dark fairy tale is steeped in religious symbolism, particularly Catholicism, amidst its fantastical narrative. The protagonist, Ofelia, faces moral and spiritual tests reminiscent of biblical trials, blurring the lines between reality and fantasy in a deeply allegorical manner.  It would help more if you could choose some specific details from the film.

    – ‘Bad times at the El Royale’ is one of my favorite movies so prior to watching is presentation I was a aware of the cult leader stretching his arms as if he’s Jesus himself because he is portraying to be this “god” saving troubled souls but in reality he’s using them for his own gain.

    – It definitely did enrich flim viewing for me, not only will looking for religious symbolism but now watching these movies with deeper understanding on how you can add these contexts in a film in different ways by not being too subtle.  It’s sort of funny to me that nowadays we are allegedly supposed to see nuns as fearful creatures.  I just saw two recent, current films about pregnant nuns abused by older nuns.    First clowns, now nuns!  



    1. This presentation did surprise me because I never paid attention to religious symbols in the movies I watched especially watching Spiderman 2004 over and over again. I never noticed what those reaction sounds referred to.

    2. John Carpenter’s They Live 1988 movie takes place in a Church. I think there is a religious symbol behind that such as it being called the protected home since the movie was about humans practicing their beliefs in the church and hiding from aliens.

    3. I liked the Titanic scene because I was shocked when I saw the religious symbol which I failed to notice before although I have watched it several times.  I hope your comment remains the same after I mention that the inserts of the Christ the Redeemer statue were added by me, Mehriniso.  They aren’t in the film, but I felt the similarity was worth noting.

    4. Being able to find examples of symbolism when viewing a film can make the audience understand the film better and can help to create another conclusion/perspective.


    Angel Padilla

    1) This presentation definitely did surpirse me because I had no knowledge of any religious symbolism that was in movies. I mean sure, some of the references that I found was pretty understandable like the Titanic one for instance, but I was genuinely surprised at all the various references to different religions.

    2) When the Superman one popped up in the presentation, I definitely remember comparing in my head that his pose looked like Jesus Christ on the cross. So seeing that in the presentation definitely confirmed that my comparison was intentional in the film.

    3) I liked the Spider-Man 2 scene a lot where he saves the people from a moving train. That movie very much defined my childhood so seeing that in the presentation was really interesting.

    4) Personally, I’m not the type of guy that tries to find examples of symbolism within movies, but I will say it can enrich my film viewing from time to time. I think some references to any topic that has nothing to do with the movie itself can be funny, but at the same time it’s not really interesting to me. It seems the inclusion of such symbolism is not irrelevant, Angel.  It should have some connection to the characters to make sense and not be considered gratuitous.


    Alyssa skerret

    1) It took me by surprise that there are a lot of religious symbols in movies because I never noticed them before. I never thought about religion when watching movies that have nothing to do with religion. Now that I’m aware of these symbols when I watch movies that consist of religious symbolism, I’ll notice things I didn’t notice before within signs or messages about religion. For example, it’s like going back and seeing movies with a new understanding or perspective.

    2) I had no clue that Rocky IV included religious symbolism. For example, as Rocky trains for his fight, he is seen running through the snow, carrying a big log on his back. In my opinion, it resembles when Jesus carries the cross on his back.

    3) My favorite scene is when Carrie “saves herself” from her mother murdering her. It’s crystal clear when the camera zooms out, that we see her mother in a pose where we can see religion being tied in.

    4) Discovering symbolism within movies will enrich my film viewing as it enables me to uncover the hidden messages, themes, and metaphors that may not be noticeable.

    Thanks, Alyssa.



    1) I was surprised by a lot of the clips because I never noticed how many <span style=”color: #1f1f1f; font-family: ‘Google Sans’, Roboto, arial, sans-serif;”>subtle references to religious symbols are put into movies. Unless the movie plot involves religion I would not have equated many scenes that I was familiar with to religious symbols.</span>

    2) I feel like the new Dune movies could have religious symbols. Paul can sort of be seen as a messiah to the freman people and the more he does impossible task the more they worshipped him.

    3) The scenes I enjoyed the most were from Superman, Elvis, Spiderman and Titanic.  Good!  They are all worth seeing, Travis.

    4) Yes I think being able to find and figure out any symbolism in a movie will overall make watching movies more enjoyable and rewatchable if you didn’t notice something your first watch through.


    Kenneth Cao

    1. Watching the presentation it did surprise me how many religious symbols were there as I did not notice them before.

    2. Prior to the presentation I had no clue in “Titanic” the scene where the main characters were at the edge of the boat represented a religious symbol, after watching it again in the presentation I can definitely see the symbolism.   I hope your comment remains the same after I mention that the inserts of the Christ the Redeemer statue were added by me.  They aren’t in the film, but I felt the similarity was worth noting.

    3. I liked the scene in “Elvis” where Elvis preaches to the music symbolizing the importance of music and how powerful it is.

    4. I think it enriches viewing experience finding symbolism in films because you can understand certain parts of the film that most people may not have noticed and it allows the viewer to better appreciate the film and its values.


    Angel Ordonez

    1) I grew up in a Pentecostal/ Evangelical household and so my family was always pointing out symbolism in films whether it was Christian or not. Though I thought they took things to an extreme, I always noticed hints of religion and other forms of symbolism in artwork, films, music, etc. However, at some point in my life I became a little numb to the subliminal implications

    2) The matrix comes to mind whenever talking about symbolism in film. Throughout the Matrix series, Neo is referred to as the One, or the chosen one, a term that also applies to Jesus Christ in the Christian religion. There are several allusions to Christianity throughout the movies, and Neo is seen as a contemporary Jesus in the Matrix series.

    3) I love the first scene presented in the video. Superman was an amazing movie and I am a sucker for all comic book films.

    4) Well, as I mentioned, my family raised me to notice such things in artworks and cinema. It sort of gave me an eye for subtleties. However, I did learn about other ways symbolism can be inserted into films. Sometimes these ideas are not so direct and it takes a deeper understanding of complex religions.



    It surprised me that the main religious symbolism chosen is one that point to Christianity. Why not use other religions too?

    I always felt that there was some religious meaning behind the 2017 Mother Starring Jennifer Lawrence. However, the film was so confusing that I could never figure it out.

    I didn’t like how a lot of them seemed to be a mockery.

    Yes, it does because now if I see a kind of symbolism that I recognize I’m able to look deeper into what the director is trying to convey.



    1.I was genuinely taken aback by this presentation because I had never been aware of any religious symbolism depicted in movies. While some references, such as the one in Titanic, seemed understandable, I was truly astonished by the diverse array of references to different religions.

    2.The Matrix follows a narrative archetype of the “chosen one,” reminiscent of Jesus’s story as the chosen one. Although the film is not explicitly religious, I sensed a religious influence in the narrative’s development, particularly in Neo’s transformation into a leader and his role in guiding others to freedom.

    3.I found the scene in “Elvis” where Elvis delivers a sermon through music particularly captivating. It underscored the significance of music and its profound power in conveying messages and emotions.

    4. Absolutely, identifying and interpreting symbolism in movies can greatly enhance the viewing experience and make films more enjoyable and rewatchable. It adds depth to the storytelling, allowing viewers to uncover new layers of meaning with each viewing.

Viewing 11 posts - 1 through 11 (of 11 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.