André Bazins impact, as theorist and critic, is widely considered to be greater than that of any single director, actor, or producer, despite his early death (at only 40) of leukemia in 1958. He is credited with almost single-handedly establishing the study of film as an accepted intellectual pursuit, as well as with being the spiritual father of the French New Wave. In 1951 Bazin co-founded and became editor-in-chief of Cahiers du cinéma, the single most influential critical periodical in the history of the cinema. Bazin can also be considered the principal instigator of the equally influential auteur theory: the idea that, since film is an art form, the director of a movie must be perceived as the chief creator of its unique cinematic style. In this review-essay, Bazin reveals that he was also the most religious of film critics and theorists. He is fundamentally holistic in his Catholicism, however, not remotely doctrinal. Spiritual sensitivity and its enablement through cinema are central to Bazins view of film as obligated to God, to honor Gods universe by rendering its reality and, by means of its reality, its mystery. Thus Bazin believes that Augusto Geninas’ Heaven over the Marshes (1949) is a good Catholic film Precisely because it rejects religious ornament and the supernatural element of traditional hagiographies, in favor of creating a phenomenology of sainthood. Genina, that is, looks at sainthood from the outside, as the ambiguous yet tangible manifestation of a spiritual reality that is absolutely impossible to prove. Hence Heaven over the Marshes confers sainthood on the murdered Maria Goretti not a priori, like most cinematic hagiographies, but only after the fact.
Cardullo, Bert and Bazin, André
"Cinema and Theology: The Case of Heaven Over the Marshes,"
Journal of Religion & Film: Vol. 6
, Article 15.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.unomaha.edu/jrf/vol6/iss2/15