CathNews film reviewer Fr Peter Malone MSC has for many years been as a welcomed, knowledgeable figure at some the world’s most prestigious film festivals. Peter’s background is not in cinema studies but in theology. His insight, however, reflects a universal and transparent approach to film, writes Mary Cass in Kairos, in an interview republiushed by the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne.
His openness to not "read into a film, but to read out", which he describes as an exegesis of film, became much appreciated by both a Christian and non-Christian public alike.
Peter was among the pioneers of the field of theology and film, using reviews and film discussions as tools for opening up serious cinema for spiritual and theological discussion. He has written more than 30 books on the subject.
From theology professor and expert in Australian history to an internationally known film reviewer and author on cinema and values; how did it come about?
I saw a lot of films when I was young and at boarding school chose the films for our weekly screenings. While working in the projection room I used to read pamphlets on the meanings in film prepared by my predecessor at the Australian Catholic Film Office, Fr Fred Chamberlain. So, even as a young boy I was attracted to cinema’s deeper meanings.
In the early 1960s I was in Rome studying theology and had an opportunity to view clergy film screenings, and soon found myself writing articles for our own student publication on spirituality and film.
When I returned to Australia, I suggested to the editor of Annals, our MSC magazine, that I write film reviews, although not everyone thought it a good idea at the time. Now it’s 44 years and 8000 reviews later!
Why is it important to have the Church’s perspective on film?
My perspective in reviewing the film is from basic human values and dialogue, and that is of interest to both a religious and a non-religious public. It is a media ministry of mediation, the film on one side and the reviewer’s audience on the other. The values of the story are filtered through him and can lead to creative dialogue on moral or spiritual themes in the story.
FULL STORY Faith, film and values (CAM)