IMDb > The Book of Life (1998)
The Book of Life
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The Book of Life (1998) More at IMDbPro »

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Up 30% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Hal Hartley (a film by)
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Release Date:
26 May 1999 (Belgium) See more »
A controversial retelling of the Apocalypse See more »
The end of the millenium has taken on a certain significance in modern day prophecies. What happens... See more » | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
Provocative and funny See more (36 total) »


  (in credits order)

Martin Donovan ... Jesus Christ

PJ Harvey ... Magdalena (as P.J. Harvey)

Dave Simonds ... Dave

Thomas Jay Ryan ... Satan

Miho Nikaido ... Edie

D.J. Mendel ... Lawyer
Katreen Hardt ... Receptionist

James Urbaniak ... True Believer
Anna Köhler ... Hotel Clerk (as Anna Kohler)

Martin Pfefferkorn ... Martyr

Layla Alexander ... Waitress (as Olga Alexandrova)

Michael Ornstein ... Computer Wizard

Paul Albe ... Mormon Thug #1

Don Creech ... Mormon Thug #2

Joseph McKenna ... Man at Airport
Abby Royle ... Woman at Airport
Yo La Tengo ... The Salvation Army Band
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Georgia Hubley ... Salvation Army Band (as Yo La Tengo)
Ira Kaplan ... Salvation Army Band (as Yo La Tengo)
James McNew ... Salvation Army Band (as Yo La Tengo)

William S. Burroughs ... Preacher on Radio (voice) (uncredited)

Directed by
Hal Hartley 
Writing credits
Hal Hartley (a film by)

Produced by
Simon Arnal .... associate producer (as Simon Arnal Szlovak)
Caroline Benjo .... producer
Jerome Brownstein .... executive producer
Thierry Cagianut .... producer
Pierre Chevalier .... producer
Chelsea Fuhrer .... associate producer
Matthew Myers .... producer
Carole Scotta .... producer
Cinematography by
Jim Denault 
Film Editing by
Steve Hamilton 
Art Direction by
Andy Biscontini 
Production Management
Matthew Myers .... unit production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Richard Greenberg .... first assistant director
Art Department
Gerrit Gillis .... art department
Sound Department
Dave Paterson .... supervising sound editor (as David Paterson)
Jeff Pullman .... sound
Reilly Steele .... re-recording mixer
Editorial Department
Seth Anderson .... assistant editor
Other crew
Dmitry Beryozkin .... intern
Anne-Marie Hess .... production assistant
Susan Leber .... production coordinator
Alex Panagakis .... publicist
Harris Smith .... intern
Eric Young .... intern

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
63 min
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Satan:I talked to your boyfriend today.
Magdalena:You're so unimaginative.
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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful.
Provocative and funny, 2 May 2001
Author: deedee2005 from San Francisco

Unable to find a rental, I broke down and bought this film, and am delighted that I did. I've seen Martin Donovan only once before, in Onegin. I thought he was British! Surprise! There are so many great scenes and lines in The Book of Life, it would be impossible and unfair to list them all and I couldn't do it justice anyway. Jesus is portrayed as happy to be back among human beings helpless as they (we) are; he's compassionate, but weary of the job he's been charged to do. Who wouldn't be? And, God's kicked him out of heaven, for some reason which was not clear, or perhaps I missed. Another reason to be weary! Jesus and the devil have it out in a most amazing scene. Listen carefully, there are some great lines that are almost thrown away. I have one complaint that has to do with a common and incorrect reading of Scripture. Mary Magdalene was not a prostitute. She was possessed by demons which Jesus cast out, but she was NOT a prostitute. That was another woman.. .

This was also my first Hal Hartly film, and while I loved the antics, and interesting movements of the actors, the soundtrack, (P.J. Harvey singing "To Sir With Love" in the record store with music blasting in the background!) I was a little put off with the "ethereal" camera work. It definitely worked for certain moments, but I felt that it was somewhat distracting, and I wish this technique had been used a little less. I'm one of those whose optical nervous system can't handle broad sweeps or quick, jerky movements of camera work. Otherwise I give this film top rating, and am a new Hal Hartley fan.

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