A Modest Proposal for Christ-Figure Interpretations: Explicated with Two Test Cases

Richard Walsh


The covert theologizing in some Christ-figure analyses, along with the failure to give serious consideration to the films under discussion, has rendered the approach suspect to all but those sharing the analyses’ theological presuppositions. Accordingly, many have called for moratoriums on Christ-figure interpretations. Nonetheless, more modest Christ-figure analyses, which respect film genres and modern characterizations, might still gain a broader academic hearing. To further that case, this essay provides a Christ-figure analysis of two films (Donnie Darko; The Wrestler), which “visually quote” or “footnote” two Jesus films (The Last Temptation of Christ; The Passion of the Christ), and then attempts to explicate what “Christ” means in these films, not in a particular theological tradition. While this discussion reveals only two popular understandings of “Christ,” the intertextuality that the films establish may also reconfigure other, more traditional christs.


Religion; Reception History

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11157/rsrr3-1-569