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« Acts Points to a Physical Resurrection | Main | What about All Those Other Gospels about Jesus? »

August 16, 2010


I have not yet seen a movie about Jesus that shows him as the final sacrifice.

What about the second commandment?

Idolatry is the specific veneration of a surrogate, above God himself... I'm not sure how a movie about Jesus would rise to this level unless one was in essence worshiping the movie in some meaningful way?

I think the Passion is a bit much for an 11 year-old... I don't think I'd go younger than 13 or 14. 11 year olds are still "kids" in a lot of ways, not sure how useful the movie would end up being for the mental cost incurred.

I actually think the damage is not in the violence itself, but in the stark realities children specifically would be brought ace to face with. Children are far more prone to have a "Sunday School" idea of Jesus... he loves them, they love him, he's the Good Shepherd, etc etc. Not very frequently are kids confronted with the actual suffering of Christ, and seeing horrible things being done to the Lord they love without them fully understanding that this was actually part of what they believe in could be very traumatic indeed. The phrase "suffered and died" gets used a lot, but I'm not sure kids realize its import in a way that would prepare them to see the movie.

Of course, individual kids will vary, I'm sure... maybe show some still pictures from the movie first to introduce the imagery?

I liked Passion, but it's a poor evangelistic tool IMO. Better is the "Jesus Movie" and similar things. Passion would still be my favorite though...

Gospel of John.

I will have to agree Gospel of John.

I think it is wrong to show the passion of the Christ to an 11 year old. Images are so powerful. They get burnt on the mind. Have you ever seen something horrific and just wished you could erase it from your mind, but you can't? I wouldn't want a child to experience that. When I saw the film I was hit by the ugliness of sin by the explicit violence. But I think a child can come to appreciate that by learning the bible and being convicted by the spirit.

No movie is as good as reading the Word. Why does anyone need a picture of how man is carnal, and evil?
But more than that, The death of Christ that is our atonement, was not His death on the cross! If He died in our place, why then, do we have to die? Because His death, the death of His body was not the death that paid our price!

Try Matthew.
It's word for word from the NIV.

Except for Hollywood and bad neighborhoods, we've pretty much sterilized our culture in the west. Most societies throughout history have lived with extreme violence as a normative factor where even children have been exposed to it from birth. In one sense you can marvel at how good we've made the world by eliminating much violence from our culture. On the other hand, you could also say that we've also gone a long way toward removing a sense of our need for a savior. So it's an insidious catch-22 that has provided the engine for the cyclical progression of immorality -> judgment -> redemption -> complacency -> immorality ->... that we have recorded at least from the time of the judges. In Western culture, we are roughly in the immoral period and are due for judgment soon. In fact it is probably already starting.

But in this larger corporate context of normal existence, exposure to such as violence can take individuals in two directions: for those who are not of God, it will drive them to immorality out of hopelessness. For those of us who are of God, it will clarify what is not worthy for us to place our hope in and drive us to hope in God.

One thing Gibson's film did correctly, I believe, is play the dialogue in Aramaic. Now, when I view any Biblical film, the clipped British tones just seem ridiculous. I didn't realize until Passion how much a sheen of Hollywood existed in Biblical films due merely to the language.

That notwithstanding, I think Zeffirelli's Jesus of Nazareth is my favorite, mainly for its script, pace, and look. It is the first "dusty" Biblical film I remember seeing.

I think it is a detriment for films about Jesus to boast of using "only" the Gospels for dialogue. First, dialogue in the Bible is shorthand, for the most part, since it is not a word-for-word transcription of peoples' conversations. Secondly, when Biblical dialogue is spoken in play form, it sounds wooden and stilted. Anthony Burgess's script for Jesus of Nazareth at least expanded the dialogue to make it sound a little more conversational and human.

Movies about Jesus have to be two things:

1. Movies
2. About Jesus
The problem with most movies about Jesus, however well they may succeed on item 2, is that they are not good movies. Those few movies in this category that succeed on item 1 are usually not good movies about Jesus.

There is probably only one movie about Jesus that is both a great movie and a great movie about Jesus, and that's The Passion of the Christ. Mel Gibson, for all his faults, is an inspired filmmaker and the Passion is his best piece (making it better than Braveheart and Apocalypto...which were both exceptional movies). The scripting is artful, the production values are very high. And it does credit to both the full Deity and full humanity of Christ. And of course, it portrays Christ's suffering better than any work of art I am aware of. If, as Greg suggests, it goes over the top on this front (and I'm not sure that it does) you have to bear in mind that Christ also suffered profoundly in ways that we cannot see. The most human Christ portrayed in film was the Christ of this film. The interactions with his mother and his disciples interleaved with His suffering are incredibly poignant. Jim Caviezel is great in the role.

I don't frankly get the kudos going to Jesus of Nazareth, that portrayal seemed very wooden to me. And the film was really boring. One kid who commented at Rotten Tomatoes was honest enough to say this and to give voice to another problem with the ratings of Jesus movies: we're afraid that we might somehow be speaking against Jesus by criticizing these portrayals as the artistic horrors that they (mostly) are. It's really sad to think that the next best movie about Jesus is probably The Last Temptation of Christ. Of course, it is a horrible movie about Jesus, perhaps the worst one ever. The worst movie about Jesus is also not a very good movie about Jesus: that awful turkey, Gospel Road.

There was a B&W Italian film called The Gospel According to St. Matthew made by Pier Paolo Pasolini, a Marxist, Atheist, Homosexual. It's a pretty good movie by 1964 standards. But, surprisingly, it's also not a bad movie about Jesus. I'm probably too stupid to get the Marxist sub-texts that all the critics, and Pasolini himself, see in the film, so that's why they don't ruin it for me. I just judged the film on its own. The words in it are mostly drawn from the text of the Gospel without much commentary or expansion, though not every word of Matthew is used. The genealogy, for example, was skipped...probably a good artistic choice.

As for letting an 11 year-old see the Passion, I can think of worse things you could do to them. For example, you could let them see Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron or Avatar.

Still, I would not want an 11-year old to see the movie because they won't appreciate it yet. I don't want to spoil it for them.

I remember when this movie was coming out, and all the talk about how violent it was. (What was especially annoying was the hypocritical "concern" from the MSM and Hollywood. You know, the same people who produce and celebrate violence 24/7.)

Even more annoying was the whining by Christians about the blood and violence. Good grief, we're talking about torture and crucifixion! What did they think they've been reading about all these years? (And again, some of these same Christians have no problem going to films that depict violence often for no reason than shock value.)

Then I saw the movie and it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought.

As to the age a child should see it, it really depends on the child.

I personally feel that no film maker will ever be able to capture the personality of Jesus. He is perfect, we are not, therefore, how can we properly portray Him? It is one thing to speak of Jesus, it is quite another to act Jesus. I understand why film is a good way to expose people to Jesus, but I wonder if it is the best way.

Picasso's famous dictum about art is absolutely correct: "Art is the lie that reveals the truth"

No person can be adequately represented in any medium. The purpose of art is to drive home truths that the artist has recognized about his subject, but that art consumers might not have noticed (in spite of their familiarity with the subject). But all art will contain something not true to the subject. Perfect art will convey the truth its creator intended while not conveying the falsehoods it unavoidably contains.

There is no perfect piece of art. Least of all is there a perfect piece of art about Christ. But The Passion is a very good piece of art that conveys the humanity of the second person of the Godhead and his suffering on our behalf in a way that no other piece of art has surpassed.

Yes I do think it would be wrong to show an 11 year old girl the film. It's too brutal.

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