Using Film in Orthodox Pastoral Practice


  • Vedran Golijanin



While most Christian denominations were condemning or openly demonizing movies when this form of artistic expression was still in its infancy, many of them today embrace film and use it for pastoral purposes. Orthodox Church is not an exception: while at the end of the 19th century Holy Synod of the Russian Church officially opposed movies because of their potential to lead the faithful astray, modern Orthodox filmmakers produce movies with the blessings of the highest Church authorities. Some of these movies, e.g. The Island (2006) and Man of God (2021), seem to function as cinematic homilies, more effective and more memorable than traditional for- mal homilies one can hear inside the church buildings. Nevertheless, religious movies are primar- ily artistic expressions and, as such, should be interpreted as any other work of art. Theological interpretation of movies, especially by pastoral theologians, should encourage their actual use as pastoral means in parish communities. Since the theology of film is still largely unknown or ignored in the Orthodox world, this paper contains a short introduction to the topic of “theology and film”, which is followed by a theological analysis of four films with specifically Orthodox themes: The Island, Angel’s Aisle, Healing Fear and Man of God.