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Master's of Sacred Arts, Individual Courses

Christian Humanism in Contemporary Cinema

Caleb Brown
Purchase for $300

This course teaches students to discern how film narratives achieve their effects on audiences and equips students to find the subtext in all aspects of a film. In this way, students are taught how to recognize the theological virtues in six Hollywood films.

Christian Humanism in Contemporary Cinema 









In this course, the student will learn to look at the craft of the filmmaker and see how he uses methods of filming, editing, music, even the color combinations on the set to reinforce the moods and themes of the narrative of film. These are powerful but subtle effects that Christian filmmakers should be aware of if they wish to create films that reflect a Christian worldview (especially if not overtly Christian in theme) that will connect with a mass audience. Through theological texts and close "readings" of six films, students will deepen their understanding of the theological virtues -- faith, hope, and charity (two films per virtue) and how a film, might subtly communicates these through a mass culture. Students will learn terms and concepts for interpreting all aspects of a cinematic story and explicating the thematic content of films such as Pixar's WALLeThe Shawshank RedemptionGood Will Hunting, and more.


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Pontifex University Course: Christian Humanism in Contemporary Cinema-3 Payments of $100/month



For each of the six lessons, you should follow this order of operations:


  • Acquire and watch the film (the films are the “books” in this course)
  • Read the companion readings
  • Watch the film again while listening to the instructor’s commentary
  • Complete the quiz (completion grade, only)
  • Contribute your answer to the discussion question in the discussion forum




To get credit for this course, complete all the quizes, contribute answers to the discussion board, and write a film analysis for your final project. You’ll have three films to choose from.


Audio Commentaries


On this page you’ll find a video explaining how to use the audio commentaries. Using the commentary is a lean-forward activity -- not a passive viewing experience. In fact, I recommend taking a break or two while listening to the lecture. At a pause point, just pause the audio and note the timecode on the film and the commentary when you take a break.


To assist you, I’ve provided an appendix in each lesson that gives you a roadmap of where the film and the commentary are supposed to sync up (however, differences in media players mean the timecodes won’t always be precise and universal). 


Proprietary Interest Policy:

Faculty are permitted to refer to notable past work and achievements (including publications and educational activities not offered by Pontifex University, and even those offered for personal profit) in their published biography on the Pontifex website and course promotions. In the context of educational activities undertaken for Pontifex University, including videos, live or recorded, teachers, can recommend or bring to the attention such work for students (even if for personal profit, for example, books or podcasts) but only with approval by Pontifex University and when it is related to the teaching purpose of the class.  An instructor’s related work will be noted in the syllabus as appropriate.  Instructors may use their own materials as required in their courses and learning events as long as the materials are appropriate for the particular learning event.


Failure to comply with this policy will result in a warning or administration modification of course materials. Violations of this policy should be reported to the Provost.

Here is the class outline:

1. Introduction

2. Lesson 1

WALL-E and Charity

3. Lesson 2

The Shawshank Redemption and Hope

4. Lesson 3

Good Will Hunting and Faith

5. Lesson 4

The Book of Eli and Faith

6. Lesson 5

Silver Linings Playbook and Hope

7. Lesson 6

Casablanca and Charity

8. Lesson 7

Final Project: Film Analysis

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