To many of us Fr Peter Malone MSC is a familiar face around Camberwell, Balwyn and Deepdene Parishes, you might have seen him celebrating Mass in one of our churches or sitting in the pews.
Born in Sydney, a priest since 1965 and reviewing films since 1968, he has taught theology and scripture at the University of Divinity (formerly Melbourne College of Divinity), at the National Pastoral Institute and the Heart of Life Centre for Spirituality and Pastoral Formation. In addition to his academic roles, he was the first President of SIGNIS – World Catholic Organisation for Communication – from 2001 to 2005. In 2008, the University of Divinity conferred on him the Degree of Doctor of Sacred Theology (Honoris Causa) in recognition of his “outstanding contribution to theological learning and education, especially for his significant contribution to bringing a critical Christian perspective to the study, interpretation and enjoyment of the visual media”.
Whilst negotiating the demands of his dual career, Peter has written more than 30 books that cover the subjects of theology, psychology and film.
Films have been a source of joy and inspiration for Peter from a young age. A turning point for Peter was in 1948 when watching Vivien Leigh standing in front of a train in Anna Karenina, stirring powerful emotions that led to a lifelong love of the movies.
The 20th century was the century for movies, then came television, video cassettes, DVD’s, streaming – so many movies to choose from. The question beckons “What’s your favourite film?” In his latest book Dear Movies Peter tries to answer that question. But don’t expect film recommendations. Dear Movies is a book of love letters to the cinema, 101 to be precise. When asked why 101?, Peter replies “Anyone can write 100!“
The letters are in no particular order, some films are well known, others are less known but each one has been chosen by Peter because of the effect they have had on him, influencing his life and outlook on so much. Film titles vary from The Godfather, Life of Brian to Sister Act, The Nun’s Story and many, many more. How many of them have you seen?
Each letter is under 1,000 words and easy to read. Each is written as he would have to any correspondent, beginning with a conversation with the film, an exploration of themes and how the film maker tells the story. Peter then invites us to discover our own Dear Movies and how they help us to explore values, their fables and parables. Peter asks us “How can the movies we enjoy contribute to our exploring values, gain insights into the spirituality of daily living and of more demanding challenges?”
The release of a new book is a unique event, the fruit of many months and years of work. However due to current Covid-19 restrictions there has not been the opportunity for the book to be officially launched. The book is available to purchase online from Coventry Press, cost is $44.95.
By Kate Baines