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Friday, March 17, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Movie Review

"Rape of the Soul": Seeking to dispel the cigar theory

"Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar," Sigmund Freud once noted.

But the creators of a new documentary, "Rape of the Soul," see phalluses everywhere — especially in religious paintings, even one that was revered by St. Francis.

Movie review 1. stars


Showtimes and trailer

"Rape of the Soul," a documentary by Michael A. Calace. 140 minutes. Rated R for sexual references and images. Metro.

Michael A. Calace directed, wrote, produced and stars in the film. He spots subliminal sexual imagery hidden in other paintings, along with demonic trees, "morphed smirking devils" and a fire-breathing dragon that stands on Jesus' shoulder. Sometimes you see what he's talking about; much of the time you don't.

Unfortunately, he never justifies the creation of a 2-hour-and-20-minute movie on the subject.

The mixture of talking heads and still photographs quickly grows monotonous; only the paintings offer some visual relief. Calace's script may suggest the form of a mystery, but it comes across as a presumptuous sermon — filmed, according to narrator Robert Swan, "to heal the many that have suffered from such uninvited violation."

Along the way, Calace and others also discuss Nazi propaganda, predatory priests, child pornography, mass hypnosis, the suspect publications of the Oregon Catholic Press and "the scandals exposed by Silver Sword International" (Calace's production company).

— John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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