The Year in Liturgical Cinema: Pentecost

"Crash," "Birdman," and "Three Colors" hint at an invisible interconnected reality made possible by the presence of the Spirit.
The Year in Liturgical Cinema: Pentecost

“The Liturgical Year in Cinema” is an ongoing series, a personal exploration of the thematic connections between the Christian calendar and films. Sunday, May 15, is the celebration of Pentecost, the commemoration of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the beginning of the Christian church.

“Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!’ Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, ‘What does this mean?’” (Acts 2:7-12)

By my count, at least 17 different people groups were present for Pentecost, the miraculous birth of the church as the Holy Spirit showed up in wind and fire. Like a reverse Tower of Babel phenomenon, the racial and linguistic barriers were broken down and cultural rifts restored.

No one reading this article witnessed Pentecost—a day where strangers with little in common than their current location are suddenly connected by something beyond them. Indeed, as a layperson, the idea is often difficult for me to grasp. But from a film critic’s perspective, I’ve seen this spirit of Pentecost infused in recent acclaimed films. “Hyperlink cinema,” as coined by film critic Alissa Quart in 2005, features a multiplicity of characters through various narrative threads all coming together into an intertwined on-screen tapestry. The stories may initially ...

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