|dc.description.abstract||In this thesis I investigate the evolving figure of the holy fool as a critical
figure in European cinema. Three national cinemas - Soviet and post-Soviet cinema,
French cinema, and Danish cinema – form the primary focus of my analysis. These
cinemas correspond broadly to the three main orientations in European Christianity:
Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant.
The cinematic holy fool of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries is
interpreted in this thesis as a protean figure through which different European
religious and intellectual traditions percolate (chapters one and two). Against this
varied cultural background, I investigate the way in which the figure of the holy fool
is used by filmmakers as a means of responding to and critiquing aspects of the
modern world. To this end I analyse how filmmakers have represented different
types, features and uses of the holy fool in interaction with their particular cultural
and religious backgrounds. In particular, I examine how the cinematic holy fool is
used to critique the religious and social status quo, the contemporary political power
structures, and the abuse of reason.
An apparently anachronistic figure, I argue that the holy fool has proved a
versatile modern device, employed to question established secular and religious
worldviews, from the Soviet regimes (chapters three and four) to contemporary
Western European democracies (chapters five, six and seven). Through this thesis I
identify how the modern holy fool is one without authority; a figure whose critical
function has largely outgrown its confessional traditions, even if indebted to them.
Nonetheless, in diverse secular and religious settings, I demonstrate how the fool’s
critical function remains morally legitimated by selfless suffering.||en_US