The Theology of Screenwriting, Part 8: Incarnation

September 26th, 2012 by

Last week and this, I am exploring theological themes in relation to screenwriting, considering them metaphorically because in my view, we see these themes in movies all the time. By understanding them, we can use these theological themes to enhance the meaning and depth of our stories.

For background on the general subject, you may read my introductory comments in Part 1 here.

Today in Part 8: Incarnation.

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” That verse from the Gospel of John [1:14] speaks to the essence of this concept.

Considered metaphorically in terms of movies, sometimes there are super-human entities who appear in the human realm such as God (Oh, God!, Bruce Almighty, Dogma) or a negative presence including demons (Paranormal Activity) and Satan (The Exorcist).

There are also extra-human beings who live among us such as The Day The Earth Stood Still, Encino Man, and E.T.:

There are stories where characters inhabit alternate human bodies or states of being such as Big, All of Me, or The Santa Clause:

In all cases, the incarnation dynamic forces key characters to reexamine their lives and determine what is authentic and real. So if the theological precept is ‘God become Man,’ the movie metaphorical view may be this: The Protagonist discovers their Core Essence and embraces that as the basis of their personal metamorphosis.

Religions call it salvation. Carl Jung calls it individuation. In movies we may call it Disunity-to-Unity. For a character to get in touch with his/her Core Essence, then embrace that as the foundation for metamorphosis, that is – symbolically – an act of incarnation.

What other movies come to mind that feature the theme of incarnation? See you in comments to discuss.

For Part 1: Sin, go here.

For Part 2: Conversion, go here.

For Part 3: Predestination, go here.

For Part 4: Salvation, go here.

For Part 5: Doubt, go here.

For Part 6: Guilt, go here.

For Part 7: Forgiveness, go here.

Tomorrow: Another theological theme in screenwriting.

Comment Archive

4 thoughts on “The Theology of Screenwriting, Part 8: Incarnation

  1. CJ says:

    Avatar was a big one with this device of inhabiting another body and learning/growing in the process. [spoilers]
    It even goes so far as the main character rejecting his original body for the new one. Plus, in Jake’s incarnation as the Na’avi warrior, he becomes their prophesied messiah (only he can ride the big creature to victory), so there’s a theological twofer.

  2. blknwite says:

    Incarnation as opposed to Possession – “Stigmata” another topic entirely?

  3. storynotes says:

    ET is a great Christ-figure example. A lot of films also incorporate cruciform poses in film.

  4. […] Part 8: Incarnation “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” That verse from the Gospel … […]

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