Home » Books


Books by Peter Fraser on Film Review, Critique, and Analysis

Peter Fraser, Ph.D., Dean, Associate Professor, English and Communication Arts, General Education. — See Full Biography

ReViewing The Movies

A Christian Response to Contemporary Film (Focal Point) Paperback – October 9, 2000
by Peter Fraser and Vernon Edwin Neal

A film not made solely by or about Christians can still be uplifting and connect with us spiritually—as long as it conveys truth with cinematic excellence. Yet many of us are unequipped to determine which movies meet that qualification.

With film being one of the most powerful cultural influences in America, we Christians cheat ourselves and limit our opportunities to witness to the culture when we label all movies as either “completely corrupt” or as “harmless entertainment.” The one stance thoroughly excludes a possible source of greater understanding; the other allows ungodly values to freely enter our hearts. What we need is the balance discernment provides.

Images Of The Passion

The Sacramental Mode in Film
by Peter Fraser

The Christian faith has had a powerful impact on every sphere of art in the West. While the Church, particularly in the United States in the 20th Century, cautions against the potential dangers of film as a corrosive influence on society, films emerge which are recognized as masterpieces of Christian art. In this original new book, Peter Fraser analyzes sacramental films, where the narrative has been disrupted and redeemed by a divine presence, in an analogy to Christian liturgical and devotional patterns. This presence transforms the film’s narrative into the most recognizable of all Christian narrative patterns: the Passion.

Fraser examines the films which best portray Christ’s Passion, and he provides a theoretical discussion of this unique and neglected genre of filmmaking. Chapters offer a close reading of important films with spiritual content, including On the Waterfront, Diary of a Country Priest, Hardcore, The Mission, Andrei Rublev, Black Robe, You Only Live Once, and Rome, Open City. Fraser concludes with a chapter on the development of the Biblical epic. 

A Christian Response to Horror Cinema

Ten Films in Theological Perspective
by Peter Fraser

Christianity has had a powerful influence on every sphere of Western art, even art which on the surface might seem antithetical to the faith. This book argues that point with an analysis of the horror film genre, examining nine classics which illustrate the evolution of horror and reveal a culture haunted by fear of the unspeakable. The history and literary roots of the horror genre are also discussed.

The author concludes that our innate dread of evil and the imperative of warding it off are the key mechanics of the horror experience. Films covered include Vampyr (1932), The Mummy (1932), The Thing (1951), Night of the Demon (1957), The Wicker Man (1973), The Exorcist (1973), Halloween (1978), Ringu (1998) and Pan’s Labyrinth (2006).

Books by Larry Widen on Milwaukee Movie Theaters — History, Photos, and Memories

Larry Widen has run movie theaters, has worked as a photographer, teaches classes at MIAD and is an author of a variety of books, the most well-known being “Silver Screens”, plus cataloging Milwaukee’s movie theaters since the dawn of film.

Milwaukee Movie Palaces

A time capsule of unusual architecture in a medium size city – June, 1986
by Larry Widen and Judi Anderson

Milwaukee is a city of a million people making it one of the 20 largest in the country, but this book shows that, for its size, it contained more than its average of exceptional architectural jewels: the PABST, WARNER (now GRAND), ORIENTAL and late lamented EGYPTIAN being amoung the finest of their types in the nation. The Widens list some 162 structures which showed film primarily or somewhat and discuss the business, architectural, and technological trends which brought them to us.

Over 100 photos grace the book in black and white while the cover features a recent color photo of the interior of the auditorium of the ORIENTAL in all its East Indian flavor. While a slim book, it is an excellent introduction to the time and place and a fine journey back in time. It is an excellent work overall, done with care, artistry, and affection for its subject and a time long past. Available on Amazon

Silver Screens 

A Pictorial History of Milwaukee’s Movie Theaters – October, 2006
by Larry Widen and Judi Anderson

“Silver Screens” traces the rich history of Milwaukee’s movie theaters, from 1890s nickelodeons to the grand palaces of the Roaring Twenties to the shopping mall outlets of today. And the story doesn’t end there: in the past two decades, the revival of interest in preservation and restoration of theaters has confirmed that there’s still life in these beloved old structures.

With the publication of “Silver Screens,” authors Larry Widen and Judi Anderson help ensure that our old theaters, those being restored and those long since vanished, will remain forever embedded in our collective memory. 

Milwaukee Movie Theaters (Images of America) 

Golden Age of Movie Theaters – October, 2010
by Larry Widen

Prior to World War II, there were 90 single-screen movie theaters in Milwaukee. By 1960, that number had been reduced by half. With the arrival of television for the home market, the golden age of the movie theater in Milwaukee was dead. Yet their ghosts continue to haunt the old neighborhoods. Churches, warehouses, stores, nightspots, and other businesses now occupy the former Tivoli, Paris, Roosevelt, and Savoy Buildings. Others are simply vacant hulks, decaying from the inside out. The Elite, Regent, Lincoln, and Warner are but a few of the many silent sentinels from the days when Milwaukee was in love with the movies.