Back to the movies!
Opening everywhere this past Friday, Son of God, the new feature film on the life of Jesus landed in theatres February 28, 2014. Earlier today (Saturday), I watched this presentation and true to my promise, bring you this review.
Be forewarned: I don’t feel the compulsion to pull back from revealing too many spoilers – after all, this is the greatest story ever told – and it’s already BEEN told – in movies, on television … and yes – the GOOD BOOK!
If there’s something I reveal in this article about the life of Jesus that you’re not familiar with … well … shame on you READ THE BOOK!
Of course I enjoyed the film – that’s a given. It’s a faithful representation from the gospels, filled with the stories and events you’ll all, no doubt be familiar, and I hazard a guess – will be looking for.
The actor, Diogo Morgado, was outstanding as Jesus, playing this same role on History Channel’s The Bible miniseries – in fact, much of the same footage was used in this presentation with additional scenes shot to add depth to the story.
And right here comes my first critical comment. No, it’s not that they used film a lot of us have already seen … it’s over use of the word, story.
I didn’t really get a sense of a story, or running narrative for a good portion of the first half of the film. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and I’m not saying they failed in any way. But, if you compare this Jesus movie with … say … The Jesus Film from the late 70′s – they are completely different, even though they tell the same story.
The Jesus Film was much more linear, faithfully following the gospel of Luke. Son of God was put together like a series of highlights from Jesus’ life.
Everything you want and expect to see is there …
Jesus filling the nets of the fishermen …
Healing the sick …
Feeding the 5000 with a few loaves and fishes …
Jesus walking on water …
Reading from the Isaiah scroll …
Raising Lazarus from the dead …
Driving out the moneychangers …
The Last Supper …
Trial, execution and resurrection …
Really, everything you expect to find in a Jesus movie!
All of these events play like scenes from an extended montage … UNTIL …
Until they come to the Last Supper. At that moment, real drama enters the picture and remains until the very end. This was a movie that just gets better and better the longer you watch. And wait until you get a load of Pontius Pilate … they found the meanest looking actor in Hollywood to play this character – you’ll see.
From my perspective, this movie earns a gold star for NOT ending on the crucifixion – but a resurrection! This was a Christian film, playing to a ready-made audience of Evangelicals - from the makers of the TV show, Touched By An Angel.
I did find ONE THING lacking from this movie.
In fact, it was as if they went out of their way to avoid controversy of any kind. I read some reviews online that called the movie bland – and I think it was the lack of controversy that fueled those assessments. For example, there was a woman named Mary traveling with the apostles and Jesus, and I can’t recall anytime during the movie when this Mary was referred to as the Magdalene.
It’s as if they wanted to acknowledge there were women among the disciples – and there were, just read the gospels – so they used Mary as the token female disciple and simply avoided any controversy by providing no backstory.
The film-makers were also careful not to make Mel Gibson’s mistake of offending every Jew on the planet - by focusing the negative spotlight on ONE Jew; Caiaphas.
It’s their stance of non-controversy that might really be the message of the film.
As I was telling some friends earlier, when I watch a movie, I’m always looking for the hidden message. It’s my belief that people don’t spend the kind of money it takes to make a movie without embedding some kind of social or political statement.
I think they went out of their way NOT to offend. And that’s okay, as long as the facts aren’t distorted - history rewritten … and watered down.
Did the Jews kill Jesus, or was it only one Jew … or was it the Romans? Or, did Jesus Himself lay down His life for the mission he came to fulfill?
That question was artfully skirted. So in fairness, let me restore a little controversy where there was none.
The Jews killed Jesus.
Just ask the apostle Paul, who wrote in 1 Thessalonians 2 …
… the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus and their own prophets …
Obviously, Paul is not condemning ALL Jews, but he’s not condemning just ONE Jew either. Actually, it was the “unbelieving Jews,” that rejected Jesus and ultimately killed Him.
If you’d argue that the Romans killed Jesus, remember, that the Jewish elders in Caiaphas’ court condemned Jesus to die first – the Romans merely carried out the sentence – the execution.
But John, you ask, what about the fact that Jesus came to fulfill His mission to give His life for the sins of the world? After all, Jesus Himself said:
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
— John 15:13
Weren’t the Jews that rejected Jesus just playing their part in God’s grand plan?
Maybe so, but so was Judas, and Jesus didn’t let him off the hook either …
… but woe to the man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! Good were it for that man if he had never been born …
— Mark 14:21
The Jews responsible for killing Jesus may have been fulfilling their role in the big picture, but that doesn’t excuse their actions.
There, controversy RESTORED!
I hope you go see Son of God. I enjoyed it and would watch it again in a heartbeat.
Keep the faith,
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