The Challenge of the Silver Screen

An Analysis of the Cinematic Portraits of Jesus, Rama, Buddha and Muhammad


In 1897 – only two years after the invention of film – the first feature film about Jesus appeared. This and other films about Jesus became examples for and an inspiration for films on other important religious figures like Rama, Buddha and Muhammad. Although religious leaders did not always approve of these films, they did find a ready audience among believers.

This book explores these films and looks at how these films dealt with the fundamental question of portraying an individual thought to have either divine status or a very special and unique status among human beings. This book will thus benefit not only students of religious film but also those studying the portrayal of central religious figures in the contemporary world.
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Biographical Note

Dr. Freek L. Bakker (1951) is Senior Lecturer in Intercultural Theology in the Department of Theology at Utrecht University, the Netherlands. He has written numerous studies and articles on Hinduism, interreligious dialogue and, since 2004, film and religion.


All those who are interested in art and film on the one hand and religion and theology on the other and the relationship between these two fields.


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