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Paul Tillich and the Possibility of Revelation through Film$

Jonathan Brant

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199639342

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199639342.001.0001

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(p.236) Appendices

(p.236) Appendices

Paul Tillich and the Possibility of Revelation through Film
Oxford University Press

(p.236) Appendices

All the appendices are given in English. With the exception of the handout ‘One Moment of Beauty’, these are translations from the originals which were in Spanish.

  1. 1. Research into Latin American Cinema

    Montevideo Questionnaire (translated English version)

  2. 2. Research into the Reception of Latin American Cinema

    Informed Consent for Interview (translated English version)

  3. 3. Guide for Montevideo

    Qualitative Interview Guide (translated English version)

  4. 4. Paul Tillich: Biography and Theory

    Interview Handout 1 (translated English version)

  5. 5. Paul Tillich: ‘One Moment of Beauty’

    Interview Handout 2 (original English version)

(p.237) (p.238) (p.239)

(p.240) (p.241) (p.242)

Once again, thank you very much for your cooperation with this research project. All your answers and personal details will be kept safe and confidential. Your identity will not be disclosed in any publication of the results.



Section 1 Introduction and background questions

It would be very useful to know a little more about you: I have some basic information from the questionnaire, for example…[read the information]…but perhaps you could tell me a little more about your life?

How does it feel to be a Uruguayan, Montevideo resident in the year 2007?

Section 2 Cinema, General

Are you a member of the Cinemateca Uruguaya?

For how long have you been interested in cinema?

Do you think that the cinema is an important art or cultural activity?

Why? Why not?

Do you think that the cinema has a particular power?

What is that power? How does it work? What effect does it have?

Do you think that the cinema can demand [or claim] a response [a change of behaviour or life-style or thinking] from the viewer?

What importance does cinema have in your life?

How do you feel its power in your own life?

Are there other arts, recreational activities, or cultural passtimes that are important in your life?

Would you say that these are more or less important than the cinema in your life?

Section 3 Return to the Questionnaire

When we met and spoke at the international cinema festival, I began with a number of questions that related to your habits as a film fan: the frequency that you watched films, the productions that most interested you etc. Then I asked you…‘Looking back on your life, is there one particularly memorable occasion when a Latin American film shook, transformed, or healed your life?’ Can you remember how you responded at that time?

The Film

Can you remember the specific film that you spoke about?

Let’s talk a little more about that film and your experience of it…take your time and tell me all about it.

Which aspects or characteristics of the film impacted on you most memorably?

In the questionnaire you said that the […] was very important. Would you like to add anything about that characteristic?

The Context

Do you think that there is a great difference between watching a film at the cinema and at home?

Do think that there is a great difference between seeing a film alone and with companions?

(p.245) The experience that you spoke about in the questionnaire occured more than […] years ago. Do you think that there are periods in people’s lives when they are more open or more sensitive to the power of the cinema or to a specific film?

The Experience

In the questionnaire you described the way in which the experience occurred as [immediately] [gradually]. Do films typically impact on you in that way?

You described the experience as [intellectual] [emotional] [aesthetic] [spiritual]. Can you tell me a little more about your understanding of those categories?

Do you think that you can distinguish between those categories easily?

Why did you describe the experience as [intellectual] [emotional] [aesthetic] [spiritual]?

Which of these categories was the most important, the most noticeable in the experience that we discussed?

In the questionnaire you said that you felt [didn’t feel] a presence or a power (it doesn’t matter whether you call it God or not) that is different to your daily life…

Do you think that the question makes sense, that it’s a valid and useful question?

Can you explain a little more of what you meant by your answer?

Are there other experiences, circumstances, or moments in your life when you’ve experienced a presence like this?

Is there a link between your answer and your religious beliefs / your understanding of the world and of human life?

Connection to Life

You said that you identified [with a particular character] [with the general setting] [with a specific event] from the film…

Can you tell me a little more about the identification, the connection you felt?

You said that there was [not] a [strong] link between the film and what was happening in your life at that time…

Would you like to comment on the connection, the link to your life?

Are there other films that have impacted on you because of their connection with your life?

You said that the experience had [no] impact [great positive] [positive] [negative] in your life…

  • Could you tell me a little bit about the impact?

  • Could you explain to me why that experience in particular had an impact?

  • Are there other films which have had an impact on your life? Why or why not?

Section 4 The Concept of Revelation

We’re left with one more section of questions. Before beginning, I would like to tell you a little bit about my research project, about the theory I’ve used and about the thinker (the philosopher) that I’m studying. I’m doing it because I would like to know what you think of the theory and to know if you find it an appropriate or useful way of describing your experience of cinema.

Read the first sheet.

(p.246) What do you think of the theory that art, and specifically cinema, can function as ‘revelation’—challenging, demanding, transforming, shaking, and healing?

Would you be happy to describe some of your experiences, like those we’ve discussed, as revelation?

We’re now going to read an autobiographical account written by Paul Tillich.

(You’ll find it on the reverse of the sheet I gave you a few minutes ago.)

What do you think / how do you feel?

Have you ever experienced anything similar?

Do you think that art / cinema is a purely human creation and its power is purely human or do you think that there could be a power or presence (it doesn’t matter if you call it God or Beauty or Life or Nature) that challenges, demands, transforms, shakes, or heals us through the cinema?

Would you say that on any occasion a film:

  • has given you the keys to understand human life?

  • has brought you a joy full of vitality?

  • has shown you a spiritual truth?

Paul Tillich: Biography And Theory

Paul Tillich was a German thinker. In 1933 he had to flee from his country because his socialist ideas had offended the Nazi powers. He lived out the rest of his life in the US, studying, giving lectures, and writing. Before his retirement he was President of Harvard University and was featured on the cover of Time magazine.

He was interested in modern, Western, post-Christian culture, existential philosophy, and the fine arts, especially painting. (As professor of philosophy in Frankfurt he had been the supervisor of the doctoral thesis of the much more famous Theodor Adorno.)

My research focuses on one specific idea of Tillich’s. He suggests that in a post-Christian world art can function like what the Christians of the past termed ‘revelation’. Tillich was unconcerned as to whether a person was an atheist or a Christian—in the modern world both are reasonable choices for a sensible person. Obviously, an atheist would use certain words to describe their experience of revelation through art, while a Christian would use other words, but Tillich thought that beneath the differing words there was a shared experience.Appendices

For Tillich ‘revelation’ can have different meanings:

  • · An experience that shakes, transforms, or heals us

  • · An experience that demands a change of lifestyle or of thinking

  • · An experience that directs us onto another path

  • · An experience of something absolutely essential or foundational



‘Strangely, I first found the existence of beauty in the trenches of World War I. To take my mind off the mud, blood and death of the Western front, I thumbed through the picture magazines at the field bookstores. In some of them I found reproductions of the great and moving paintings of the ages. At rest camps and in the lulls in the bitter battles, I huddled in dugouts studying this “new world” by candle and lantern light. But at the end of the war I still had never seen the original paintings in all their glory.

‘Going to Berlin, I hurried to the Kaiser Friederich Museum. There on the wall was a picture that had comforted me in battle: Madonna with Singing Angels, painted by Sandro Botticelli in the fifteenth century. Gazing up at it, I felt a state approaching ecstasy. In the beauty of the painting there was Beauty itself. It shone through the colours of the paint as the light of day shines through the stained-glass windows of a medieval church. As I stood there, bathed in the beauty its painter had envisioned so long ago, something of the divine source of all things came through to me. I turned away shaken.

‘That moment has affected my whole life, given me the keys for the interpretation of human existence, brought vital joy and spiritual truth. I compare it with what is usually called revelation in the language of religion.’Appendices