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Feature Films in Which Criticism of Religion is a Secondary Theme
Americord (1973) - By Federico Fellini.  About Italy under fascism. Oscar for best foreign film.

Angry Harvest (1985) - Former seminary student hides a pretty Jewess from the Nazis.  But his motives
are somewhat less than noble.  In German.

Balcony, The (1963) - Based on play by Jean Genet. Starring Shelly Winters, Peter Falk, and Leonard
Nimoy. A revolution rages below, as seen from the balcony of a bawdy house.

Boccacio 70 (1962) – An updated Decameron made by four different directors. The episode directed
by Fellini deals with religion.

Clash of the Titans (1981) - Greek mythology, starring Laurence Olivier as Zeus.  

Crooks in Cloisters (1964) – British comedy about bumbling train robbers who hide out in a monastery.

El Topo (The Mole) (1970) – A surrealistic allegory, structured as a Western. Violent and bizarre. Filled
with religious symbolism, both Eastern and Western, but even the director seems unclear about what it is
all supposed to mean. He seems more interested in striking imagery than coherence. In essence, imagine
the Marquis de Sade trying to imitate the style of Frederico Fellini. In Spanish.

Fahrenheit 451 (1966) - Based on Ray Bradbury’s parable about censorship. Stars Oskar Werner and
Julie Christie.

First Legion, The (1951) – Study of belief and perception within the framework of a Jesuit monastery.
Directed by the German ex-patriot, Douglas Sirk. In English.

Freud (1962) - Directed by John Huston, starring Montgomery Clift as Freud. Nominated for numerous
awards.

Garden of Allah, The (1936) – A monk eschews his vows when he meets a beautiful woman in the
Algerian desert. Stars Charles Boyer and Marlene Dietrich.

Garden of the Finzi Continis (1970) - About persecution of the Jews in Italy under fascism. Directed by
Vittorio De Sica.

Gospel According to St. Matthew, The (1964) - Naturalistic treatment of the Bible story, directed by
Paolo Pasolini, a homosexual Italian Communist. He never explained why he made this film; presumably,
he saw the Jesus character of Matthew as a revolutionary. It’s not your sugary Hollywood version.

Hallelujah Trail, The (1965) - Comedy about frontier evangelists, starring Burt Lancaster.

Hawaii (1966) - Based on the book by James Michener.  Missionary treatment of the natives. Stars Julie
Andrews, Max von Sydow, and Richard Harris.

History of the World, Part I (1981) - Comedy by Mel Brooks.

I Killed Rasputin (1968) – Life and death of the mad monk who mesmerized the Tsarina of Russia.  In
French. Many other films have also been made about the life of Rasputin.

Intacto (2001) - This film is not about the conventional concept of religion, but a different superstition
which is still widely believed, even among some atheists. In modern Spain, high stakes gamblers play
weird games in which they bet human lives, even their own. They believe that LUCK is a commodity that
can be bought, sold, and transferred from one person to another by touch. Even the photograph of a
person who has the gift of LUCK possesses this magical power, so these photographs become
negotiable currency. This meme is rampant in modern casinos. The plot is a bit hard to follow, but the
film is well made and very intriguing. In Spanish.

Ivan the Terrible, Part I (aka Ivan Groznyy I) (1944) - By Serge Eisenstein. Eisenstein became famous
as a silent film director, and even though this film was made in 1944, it is essentially a silent film, with
sound. The acting is extremely stylized, and the emphasis is on pictorial compositions. But this is only
part one of what was intended to be a trilogy about Ivan. In Russian.

Ivan the Terrible, Part II (aka Ivan Gronznyy II: Boyarsky zagovor) (1958) – By Serge Eisenstein. Most
critics think Part 2 is even better than Part 1. Here Eisenstein begins to experiment with color. And in this
part, Ivan earns his nickname by slaughtering thousands of his own people – all in the name of religion.
Stalin greatly admired Part One, but he thought Part Two paralleled too closely his own regime, and had
it banned. Eisenstein died before he was able to make Part Three. In Russian.

Life of Emile Zola, The (1937) – Biography of the French novelist, and especially his involvement in the
Dreyfuss affair.

Magic Christian, The (1969) Zany satire about greed, written by Terry Southern, starring Peter Sellers
and Ringo Starr. The title is the name of a yacht owned by an obscenely wealthy industrialist.

Mohammed, Messenger of God (aka The Message) (1976) - The “official” version, produced by one of
the Islamic governments. Story of the birth of Islam. In accord with Islamic tradition, Mohammed is
never shown. The scenes in which he is involved are shot from his POV. Anthony Quinn stars as a close
associate.

Mondo Cane (1962) and Mondo Cane II (1963) - Documentaries which include some weird religious
practices.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) - Satire about King Arthur from the Monty Python group.

Night of the Iguana (1964) - Based on a play by Tennessee Williams, directed by John Huston. A
defrocked Episcopal priest leads a busload of Baptist ladies on a tour of the Mexican coast. Stars
Richard Burton, Ava Gardner, and Deborah Kerr. Nominated for numerous awards.

Nights of Rasputin (1960) – Another bio of the mad monk. In Italian.

Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) - Techniques of mind control, based on the novel by George Orwell. Stars
John Hurt as Winston Smith, Richard Burton as O’Brian. Nominations for many awards. A looser
interpretation of the novel is the surrealistic “Brazil” by Terry Gilliam (1985).

Oh, Lucky Man (1973) - Starring Malcolm McDowell.  Modern version of Candide.

Preacherman (1971) – Low budget comedy in which a preacher fleeces his flock in rural South.

Rasputin - Germany, 1930.

Rasputin - France, 1938.

Rasputin and the Empress - U.S., 1932.

Rasputin, the Mad Monk - U.K., 1966.

Roma (1972) - By Federico Fellini.  Impressions of Rome over the years, by one of its most famous
inhabitants. The ecclesiastical fashion show is one of the funniest scenes ever filmed.

Scarlet Letter, The (1995) - Treatment of adultery in puritanical New England, based on the novel by
Nathaniel Hawthorne. Stars Demi Moore and Robert Duvall.

Siddhartha (1972) – Based on a novel by Herman Hesse. In his search for fulfillment, a young man
meets Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha). Directed by Conrad Rooks. Shot in India, in English.

Sodom and Gomorrah - Triple-X version.  Funny, as well as sexy.

Soylent Green (1973) - When we reach population saturation, we may have to turn to cannibalism for
protein. Stars Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson.

Splendor in the Grass (1961) - By Ilia Kazan. About the Christian sexual tragedy. Stars Natalie Wood
and Warren Beatty.

St. Joan (1957) - Based on the play by G.B. Shaw. Directed by Otto Preminger

Time Bandits (1981) – The Monty Python creators take us on a comical adventure through history.

Trial of Joan of Ark, The (1962) - By Andre Bresson. Exact recreation of the trial, based on court
transcripts. In French and English.

True Confessions (1981) - Starring Robert DeNero and Robert Duval.  About the Catholic Church as
Big Business.

Winds of Change, The (1978) – Anthology of Greek mythology. Animated film, with humorous narration
by Peter Ustinov.
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