Constantine's Sword

Ex-Priest Explores History of Religious Hatred

Constantine's Sword
A compelling addition to the genres of history and memoir, Oren Jacoby's documentary adapts and updates author and former Catholic priest James Carroll's book about the dark side of Christianity. In Carroll's search for understanding of atrocities committed in the context of religious intolerance, he considers the history of anti-semitic violence, investigates religious infiltration of the US military and its influence on the country's foreign policy, and considers his responsibility as a priest for fomenting intolerance between religious groups.

Review By Jim Ridley, Village Voice

X marks the spot, literally, where Christianity and the Catholic Church fostered the centuries of religious hatred and anti-Semitism that culminated in the Holocaust. So argues James Carroll in his 2001 book Constantine's Sword and in this searching, intellectually lively documentary. Carroll, the former priest turned National Book Award–winning novelist, journalist, and memoirist, claims the die was cast in the year 312, when Constantine I claimed his decisive Roman victory under the sign of the labarum. Once the cross displaced life-giving emblems (shepherds, fish) as the symbol of Christianity, the religion made Christ's death its rallying point—providing a handy weapon against the fingered murderers, Europe's thriving Jews. (In the sharpest of the movie's recontextualized film clips, Dustin Hoffman as Lenny Bruce takes the rap with a shrug.) How long could the damage linger? Fast-forward almost two millennia to the U.S. Air Force Academy in the evangelical hotbed of Colorado Springs, where Jewish cadets—including the children of a Reagan White House associate—face thousands of brass-sanctioned flyers for The Passion of the Christ and insistent proselytizing. Journeying from Colorado to Rome to Auschwitz with his own tangled father-son military history as a running thread (and director Oren Jacoby heightening the tone of moral imperative), Carroll runs the risk of conducting a Gray Line whirlwind tour of religious intolerance. But if his film is more provocative personal inquiry than reportorial knockout punch, it still pokes needed holes in the concept of papal infallibility and provides historical context for the dangers of linking the church and military. If nothing else, it demonstrates why we should feel cold shivers whenever President George W. Bush bandies the term "crusade."

Constantine's Sword

Fri September 12, 2008, 7:00 & 9:00, Muenzinger Auditorium

USA, in English, Color, 93 min, 1.85 : 1 • official site



10 films for $60 with punch card
$9 general admission. $7 w/UCB student ID, $7 for senior citizens
$1 discount to anyone with a bike helmet
Free on your birthday! CU Cinema Studies students get in free.


Pay lot 360 (now only $1/hour!), across from the buffalo statue and next to the Duane Physics tower, is closest to Muenzinger. Free parking can be found after 5pm at the meters along Colorado Ave east of Folsom stadium and along University Ave west of Macky.


Park elsewhere and catch the HOP to campus

International Film Series

(Originally called The University Film Commission)
Established 1941 by James Sandoe.

First Person Cinema

(Originally called The Experimental Cinema Group)
Established 1955 by Carla Selby, Gladney Oakley, Bruce Conner and Stan Brakhage.

C.U. Film Program

(AKA The Rocky Mountain Film Center)
First offered degrees in filmmaking and critical studies in 1989 under the guidance of Virgil Grillo.

Celebrating Stan

Created by Suranjan Ganguly in 2003.

C.U. Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts

Established 2017 by Chair Ernesto Acevedo-Muñoz.

Thank you, sponsors!
Boulder International Film Festival
Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts

Looking for a gift for a friend?
Buy a Frequent Patron Punch Card for $60 at any IFS show. With the punch card you can see ten films (a value of $90).

Cox & Kjølseth
: Filmmaker Alex Cox & Pablo Kjølseth discuss film topics from their own unique perspectives.

: Pablo and Ana share Zoom-based briefs on what's currently playing at IFS

Search IFS schedules

Index of visiting artists

Wed Sep 27, 2023

Thank You for Smoking

At Muenzinger Auditorium

Sat Oct 28, 2023


At Muenzinger Auditorium

more on 35mm...