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


Br. David Steindl-Rast
Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB

Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB

About the author

Brother David Steindl-Rast — author, scholar, and Benedictine monk — is beloved the world over for his enduring message about gratefulness as the true source of lasting happiness. Known to many as the “grandfather of gratitude,” Br. David has been a source of inspiration and spiritual friendship to countless leaders and luminaries around the world including Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Thomas Merton, and more. He has been one of the most important figures in the modern interfaith dialogue movement, and has taught with thought-leaders such as Eckhart Tolle, Jack Kornfield, and Roshi Joan Halifax. His wisdom has been featured in recent interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Krista Tippett, and Tami Simon and his TED talk has been viewed almost 10,000,000 times. Learn more about Br. David here.