The Tree of Life (2011), Eco-theology & Film: A Conversation with Prof. George Handley
By Benjamin Thevenin and George Handley
Movies as Mirrors is a conversation podcast about representation in movies hosted by Benjamin Thevenin, Associate Professor of Media Arts at Brigham Young University. Each episode features a guest who selects a film that reflects a social issue that interests or affects them. On this episode, BYU Professor of Humanities George Handley discusses the 2011 movie The Tree of Life, along with myself and guest-host and media educator Camlyn Giddins. In the conversation we explore the Terrence Malick-directed film’s representation of humans’ relationship with the natural world and how eco-theology—an engagement with ecological issues that draws upon theological discourse—can be a productive way to introduce audiences to environmental issues. We also talk about the value of movies as environmental education for the public, and discuss other films like the Darren Aronofsky-directed films The Fountain (2006), Noah (2014), and Mother! (2017) along with Paul Schrader’s film First Reformed (2017). And we talk about the need for more nuanced cinematic representations of issues like climate change as a means of raising the public’s awareness about these important issues.
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