Since 1990 Dr. Francis Lu and Brother David Steindl-Rast have led annual 5- or 7-day film seminars at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California.  Films on a particular spiritual theme are shown and discussed, focusing on the participants’ personal experiences. “Love in Film: Relationships for Life” was one of two themes in 2014.


Twenty-Four Eyes DVD cover

Since the beginning of film, the many varieties and facets of love have enthralled audiences and evoked deep longings, pleasures, and fears. This seminar explores love in film along two dimensions. First, we explore the different kinds of love relationships: parental, friendship-based, romantic, and spousal. Second, we discover the polarities inherent within love: passionate/compassionate, obsessive/detached, fulfilled/unrequited, and comic/tragic. By viewing twelve to fifteen feature films from the silent era to the present, we deepen our capacity to appreciate the meaning and value of relationships as described by Thomas Merton: “Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone — we find it with another.”

Films shown in this order:

Titanic (clips shown)
Pather Panchali
City Lights
24 Eyes
The African Queen
The Magic Flute
Wuthering Heights
Letter from an Unknown Woman
The Bridges of Madison County
When Harry Met Sally
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
Babette’s Feast
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Love Among the Ruins

Bonus films:

The Misfits