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March 02, 2014

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"In the film, Jesus invites the disciples to “change the world” and “change their life.” There’s no real explanation of Jesus’ death and resurrection, not even so much as a “given for you” after “this is my body.”...I tried to imagine what a filmgoer who knew nothing about Christianity would think Jesus’ message was, and the best I could come up with was, “Be kind to sinners.” I think I would be confused about why people died for that."

And thus, this movie constitutes "another gospel"...because it avoids the gospel altogether.

Were we expecting anything different from the folks who put this out?

It may simply be that having an actor play Jesus is an impossible task.

A perilous one too, if you ask me. I have always felt strong discomfort with portrayals of the incarnate Christ on the screen. In Orthodox icons, for instance, we do not see a humanized or mundanely realistic portrayal of Christ (or of any other figure, for that matter), but, rather, a heavenly window that eschews earthly and humanistic details. Seeing a mere man portray the Lord in a film or TV show, on the other hand, invariably has this, since it is a mere man who will act the part. This is fair enough in portraying historical characters who were indeed mere men, but what man can play the role of one who is simultaneously God eternal and man? It strikes me as profane.

I think people go to movies like this more to confirm or magnify what they already know. The faithful, if they like the movie, feel good about what of the movie is consistent with their faith. Those who are not believers but who think, say, Jesus was a good teacher, can leave such a film thinking, "My, that Jesus chap was all right!" Looking for theology or the Gospel in these works, however, other than that of a mirror, seems a lost cause.

Amy, let's collaborate on a Jesus movie and do this thing right once and for all! You expressed some of the same feelings I have about Jesus movies in general.

I'm going to go see that movie anyway, though.

Sam, it was better made than the usual Jesus movie, that's for sure. Most of the supporting cast was excellent, especially Pilate. If you read the review I linked to at the end, I think Ben Witherington did a good job covering the things I didn't spend time on here.

I, too, left the film disappointed. It seemed to focus more on the political aspects and, like the article here stated, less on who Jesus is...the Son of God. The actor seemed restrained to the point of having to force the words out, and there was no sense of power or authority, just...niceness. The movie succeeded in humanizing Judas, the religious leaders, and Pontius Pilate. They portrayed well the sense of internal struggle these men likely went through.

The movie I have most enjoyed as showing a fuller picture of Jesus is The Visual Bible: The Book of Matthew. The man who played Jesus, Bruce Marchiano, portrayed Him with confidence and joy, compassion and strength, humility and humor, passion for His mission and love for the Father and for people He encountered. I like, too, that this movie was a word-for-word rendering of Matthew.

When you step back and think about this, Jesus could have come at any point in history...like when there were cameras and film. Isn't it interesting that He chose to come when there wasn't any film and instead chose to have the accounts written down instead. Perhaps these accounts were not meant to be visualized...there's just too many things we will do wrong which will not bring proper honor to God.

I think Jim Caviezel brought what you're missing here to his portrayal of Jesus. Some actors have that powerful, compelling screen presence and some don't. It sounds like Son of God was an unfortunate combination of bland directing and a watered-down script.

I liked it.

Perhaps if I didn't already know the story, I would not have gotten the full impact. There are things that I wish had been added, or things that could have been played differently, but there is only so much that you can do in the limited time that a person can sit still in a seat. Overall, I liked it.

If it gets people to actually read the gospels to find out more about this person, then hopefully they get a fuller picture.

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