A Spiritual Awakening: A Reflection On Spiritual Films
“What I thought was unreal, now for me... seems in some ways to be more real than what I think to be real... which seems now more to be unreal.” What the Bleep Do We Know, Fred Alan Wolf, Theoretical Physicist
Spirituality is often approached either as a dogma with an emphasis on scripture and sacred texts, or as ritual with an emphasis on the legal norms. Certainly, many of the studies on religion have approached it from one of these angles. However, focusing solely on sacred texts and rituals can limit our understanding of the experiences and engagements of believers with religion. At the present, with breakthroughs in science and ...view middle of the document...
This transcendental experience is mentioned in various spiritual paths around the world. Remarkably, in all the five mentioned films, there is an application of the cinematographic style, known as the ‘Transcendental style’. According to Schrader, this style can capture the viewer “through the trials of experience to the expressions of the Transcendent; it can return him to experience from a calm region untouched by the vagaries of emotion or personality. Transcendental style can bring us nearer to that silence, that invisible image, in which the parallel lines of religion and art meet and interpenetrate” (quoted in Leonard, p. 47, 2009). Thus, such a style is not merely an aesthetic technique, but also a channel to convey the transcendental and the spiritual.
The film Baraka (directed by Ron Fricke, 1992), depict a series of spectacular cinematography that display a blend of the mysticism and magnificence of nature, the ugly effects of industry, the ruin that war leave behind, and the religious practices. The film deliver the viewer a sense of a ‘sacred order’ in nature and to which we seem to belong (Watkins, 2008). In the film departure, the Monkey are shown to greet the sun, in what is seems to be a ritualistic and spiritual order that is cross-species and an over-lapping magisteria between all of the creation. The film’s highlights a kind of unifying susceptibility that ‘run roughshod’ over the significance of difference in thinking about the many challenging images (Watkins, 2008).
Baraka works on two levels: both as a catalogue of exquisite images, like a gorgeously cinematic wordless travelogue; and on a deeper level, as a graphic epic about Earth’s development, man’s spiritual creativity and interconnectedness, and our impact (for better and for worse), on the planet. Barak’s central notion is humanity’s relation to the natural, the spiritual and the eternal, and the series of imageries and melodies take us to the inner-essence of these concepts (Dormehl, 2012). It uses no language, so needs no translation. However, it utters beautiful meanings via natural sounds, stunning images. It respects our plant and the life upon it, and as the great Sufi mystic Rumi said, “silence is the language of god, all else is poor translation.” (Ebert, 2010).
Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring Again (directed by Ki-duk Kim, 2003) is a Buddhist film that was made on a metaphysical promise, a love story set within an extended metaphor using a time loop. In doing so, it mimics the cycle of karma reincarnation, where the character is destined to repeat the same day endlessly until it gets it right. The different seasons are the only thing the old monk and his young apprentice see as time passes by. The film is divided into five episodes with each season representing a special stage in a human’s life. Each one begins with opening a wooden gate, similar to a curtain in a theater, which leads the view on the lake with the small temple. The protagonist...