• Bible Films Blog

    Looking at film interpretations of the stories in the Bible - past, present and future, as well as preparation for a future work on Straub/Huillet's Moses und Aron and a few bits and pieces on biblical studies.

    Matt Page


    Thursday, August 09, 2007

    A Few Thoughts on "Through a Screen Darkly"

    I seem to be in the middle of book review week at the moment, and as a bout of ill health enabled me to finish reading Jeffrey Overstreet's "Through a Screen Darkly" at the weekend I thought I'd post a few comments about it here. This is not an official review as such, because Jeffrey's a friend, and has very much shaped the way I think about film. There's simply no way that I could be balanced and objective about the book. It also makes it harder to know which ideas etc. are new and original when you read glimpses of them on his blog, and discuss them on Arts and Faith.

    Having said that there was much in this book that was new, even to me. Of course the same Overstreet approach to the arts was there, replete with advice on how to look closer, hear what the film is trying to say, and spot the fingerprints of the Almighty. At the same time it's clear that this is far from a re-hash of past glories. Jeffrey writes here about films I've heard him discuss numerous times before, but he also brings a freshness to them. Take, for example, Punch Drunk Lve one of my favourite films of all time. Over the years I've read various bits and pieces that Jeffrey has written on this film, but his comments here were fresh. Instead of the welcome air of familiarity I was expecting, I found myself having to consider new insights.

    It's not just the number of observations that Jeffrey makes that make this book an addictive read - he also has a wonderfully fluent writing style. Jeffrey's next stop is the imminent release of his first novel "Auralia's Colours", which has already garnered some impressive reviews. His double life has served him well. At times, "Through a Screen Darkly" feels like a novel as it weaves together plot synopses, commentary and auto-biography into a single well-tailored garment.

    It seems like the book has, so far, been well received - in fact just the other day I heard about it being added to the required reading list for an undergrad film programme in LA. In truth I don't imagine that it's primarily written for that kind of audience - but it's significant that it's considered to be suitable for that standard as well as a general audience.

    Like I said - far from impartial - but then I suppose given how much I've enjoyed Jeffrey's writing in the past, this would have had to have been quite disappointing for me to think otherwise. Thankfully, quite the opposite is true.



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