Staging Zen Buddhism: Image creation in contemporary films

Elisabetta Porcu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, I analyse the image creation of Zen Buddhism as emerges from films produced in Europe and North America. In particular, I explore Marc Rosenbush's Zen Noir (2004), Zen & Zero by Michael Ginthör (2006), and Erleuchtung Garantiert (1999) by Doris Dörrie. Comparatively, I examine a recent Japanese production on the life and teachings of the Sōtō Zen master Dōgen titled Zen and directed by Takahashi Banmei (2009). The aim of this analysis is to explore if and how depictions of Zen in western movies mirror representations of this religious tradition made ad hoc for the West and, conversely, what is the image of Zen Buddhism as appears in Japanese productions. This will be considered in a comparative perspective in order to identify differences, possible common patterns and mutual influences which may have shaped the cinematic perception of this form of Japanese Buddhism in Europe and North America.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-96
Number of pages16
JournalContemporary Buddhism
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Religious studies
  • Philosophy


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