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viii + 179 pp.

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Reel Revelations
Apocalypse and Film
Edited by John Walliss, Lee Quinby

In the last decades, writers and directors have increasingly found the Book of Revelation a fitting cinematic muse for an age beset by possibilities of world destruction. Many apocalyptic films stay remarkably close to the idea of apocalypse as a revelation about the future, often quoting or using imagery from Revelation, as well as its Old Testament antecedents in Daniel, Ezekiel, and Isaiah.

The apocalyptic paradigm often instigates social criticism. Kim Paffenroth examines how zombie films deploy apocalyptic language and motifs to critique oppressive values in American culture. Lee Quinby shows how Richard Kelly’s Southland Tales critiques not only social and economic crises in the USA but also Revelation’s depictions of Good versus Evil as absolute oppositions. Frances Flannery points out how Josh Whedon’s Serenity deconstructs the apocalypse precisely by using elements of it, depicting humans as their own created monsters.

Jon Stone notes how apocalyptic fictions, while presenting nightmare scenarios, are invariably optimistic, with human ingenuity effectively responding to potential disasters. Mary Ann Beavis examines the device of invented scriptures (pseudapocrypha), deployed as a narrative trope for holding back the final cataclysm. John Walliss studies evangelical Christian films that depict how the endtime scenario will unfold, so articulating and even redefining a sense of evangelical identity.

Richard Walsh analyses the surreptitious sanctification of empire that occurs in both Revelation and End of Days under the cover of a blatant struggle with another ‘evil’ empire. Greg Garrett examines how the eschatological figure of ‘The Son of Man’ is presented in the Matrix trilogy, the Terminator tetralogy, and Signs. Elizabeth Rosen shows how a postmodern apocalyptic trend has been working its way into children’s fiction and film such as The Transformers, challenging the traditionally rigid depictions of good and evil found in many children’s stories.

This is the first volume in the series Apocalypse and Popular Culture; see also (2) Gribben and Sweetnam, Left Behind and the Evangelical Imagination, (3) Howard, Network Apocalypse, (4) Partridge, Anthems of Apocalypse, (5) Clanton, The End Will Be Graphic, and (6) Aston and Walliss, Small Screen Revelations.

John Walliss is Senior Lecturer in Criminology, Department of Social Work, Care and Justice, Liverpool Hope University.
Lee Quinby is Distinguished Lecturer at Macaulay Honors College, City University of New York.

Series: Bible in the Modern World, 31
978-1-907534-08-9 hardback
Publication October 2010

Lee Quinby and John Walliss

Kim Paffenroth
Apocalyptic Images and Prophetic Function in Zombie Films

Lee Quinby
Southland Tales, The Film of Revelation: Richard Kelly’s Satire of American Apocalypse

Frances Flannery
Post-modern Apocalypse and Terrorism in Joss Whedon’s Serenity

Jon R. Stone
Apocalyptic Fiction: Revelatory Elements within Post-war American Film

Mary Ann Beavis
Pseudapocrypha: Invented Scripture in Apocalyptic Horror Films

John Walliss
Celling the End Times: The Contours of Contemporary Rapture Films

Richard Walsh
Sanctifying Empire: The Hopeful Paradox of Apocalypsia

Greg Garrett
‘I saw one like a son of man’: The Eschatological Savior in Contemporary Film

Elizabeth Rosen
‘More than meets the eye’: Apocalypse Transformed in Transformers

There are a number of superb essays in Reel Revelations: Apocalypse and Film, a short collection on the intersection of the biblical book of Revelation and contemporary film … In the excellent first chapter …, Kim Paffenroth uses the zombie films of George Romero to bring out [the] capacity of end-times narratives to make trenchant social criticisms … Mary Ann Beavis’s ‘Pseudapocrypha’ … is … an interesting challenge to reception history in that it deals with the ways filmmakers have employed apocryphal religious texts to create imaginaries of the end times. … John Walliss, venturing refreshingly far from the Hollywood mainstream, explores the neglected area of films made by and for evangelical Christians in the United States. Eric Repphun, Relegere: Studies in Religion and Reception.