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This is a great production which is far superior to any of the 'epic' real life re-tellings of the life of Jesus. If you look at the list of theological advisors in the credits at the end of the film you will see part of the reason why - rather than a dramatic Hollywood interpretation of the story, this work is part based on the thoughts of people who have spent a lifetime reflecting on what Jesus meant. That means rather more depth than we get with, for example, John Wayne as a centurion in The Greatest Story Ever Told. Plus the puppets and animation mean that the audience (or at least myself) aren't distracted by the sets and the actors. It's real, but has an other worldly edge that makes it different. Very strongly recommended.
I woke up this morning to the alarm on my bedroom TV. I could hear
voices... Ralph Fiennes?... Richard E Grant?... William Hurt?... When I
rubbed the sleep from my eyes, I realised that the program on BBC2 was an
animated version on 'Jesus of Nazareth'.
Not being a particularly religious disposition, this was not the reason that prevented me from getting up out of my nice warm bed. Alas, it was the unbelievable animation that bedazzled me. I come from a design/multimedia background, and so I found this example of animation very interesting, and the more I watched it, the more I was amazed.
The flow of the animations; the realism of the characters' features; the expressions on their faces; the interlaced, drawn animation 'dream-sequences'; all these aspects aggregated to form a top class exhibition of animationary excellence.
And to top it all off, the dialogue and storyline were superbly written in a way that would appeal to young AND old. I a twenty-nine year old man, but I have to admit that watching this brought a tear to my eye, and a lump in my throat.
Whether this was an empathetic reaction to the plight of Jesus, or an inherent appreciation of the animation quality... one can only guess.
10 out of 10 (and I only caught the last half hour!!) I shall be ordering a copy of this on DVD as a Christmas present. Thats the easy part... the hard part is deciding which one of my four favourite neices to give it to!
You remember all those Rankin-Bass holiday Specials from the 60s and 70s,
Rudolph and Frosty and Easter things? Well, this is a throwback to them-but
with a big budget, excellent voicers(Ray Fiennes, Richard E Grant, Julie
Christie, Ian Holm, etc.), terrific animation, great heart.
I liked most of all the straightforward, reverent way in which they portrayed Christ, sure it's from the Gospels without much(if any) contemporary shading-but that is really what the material deserves, in my thinking. If you are going to do the Easter story, and his parables, show the 12 apostles and etc-then this is the way to go about it. I enjoyed the mix of stop motion and toon animation, esp in the parables. There was an interesting mixture of styles too-some looked folky, some looked outta Marvel Comix(whenever Judas saw Christ as some revolutionary figure, for example), some more cutting edge.
It didn't have the walking on water or Sermon on the Mount scenes, but did include Lazarus, a flashback to the nativity, healings and etc. I think they did the gospels proud here,and have done a very good job of it. This deserves to become a classic.
***1/2 outta ****----very good.
When he decides to quit his job as a carpenter, everyone thinks Jesus
has perhaps flipped but his mother knows that this "father's work" that
he speaks of is in fact God's mission for him on Earth. Jesus sets off
to tell the people how things should be, gathering a group of men
(disciples) around him as he goes. His message is simple but it is not
met well by the religious leaders of the day. Seeing the passion and
zeal he brings to the people, these leaders plan to accuse him of
blasphemy and see him removed from the spotlight in a bloody and
Whenever I watch a film I try to view it as objectively as possible, ignoring my own preconceptions, media hype etc. With this film I will set aside my opinions on the subject matter but will admit that, if you are a Christian with kids then you'll probably love this movie because it does a great job of presenting Jesus in an accessible and convincing way without making it into a Pixar or Disney Happy Meal type product. The plot is well-known but the film still does a good job with it, careful with what it drops and what it includes, building the main blocks of the tale and allowing enough to be hammered home without doing so much that it would overwhelm with events. The animation is well done; the models are smooth and match the action well, while the variations into other styles is used to make a point or to expand the limited scope of the models and their backgrounds.
The voice cast is pretty close to being stellar and they certainly helped the film sell. Fiennes is OK as Jesus but I didn't think he delved deep for a character perhaps an unfair complaint since this is aimed at kids and therefore not a performance that called for complexity or interpretation. Holm is good as Pilate; Hurt is strong in a foundation role, important in building the story on a personal level for kids. Grant is a strange John the Baptist mainly because he sounds very like Richard E. Grant and it doesn't seem right! Stott is unmistakably but a very good Peter. Support from Massey, Molina, Peck, Thewlis, Christie and others all help the voice work add to the classy feel of this film certainly they raise the film above the Sunday school cartoon level that lesser actors could have seen it stuck at.
Overall a good film on several levels. Christians with kids will love it because it gets the message across without being "educational" in a way that puts off kids and without being the other extreme of being a glossy cartoon. However the casual viewer may enjoy it as well, because the voice work is roundly strong, the animation professional and the story told in a manner that is well delivered and watchable. Considering the millions who went to see the lesser "Passion of the Christ", this film deserves to have many more viewers.
Of the many life of Christ films, this should be rated as one of the best.
Some viewers have called it a "claymation" film, it is not. This is a stop
motion puppet film. Anyone who has the DVD version can view the "making of"
film and see that the figures are flexible puppets made of foam and plastic
and not the crude figures done for "claymation". There is a vast difference
in stop motion puppets and claymation figures.
What sets this film apart is that through the puppet medium, the figures look like people from the time and place of the original happening, not Hollywood actors in costumes and make up. Since the viewer does not associate a certain actor with the part, it is much easier to accept the puppet as the "real" character. You don't see Jeffrey Hunter, the actor in "King of Kings", playing a part but see more acceptable versions of Christ and the apostles.
The combination of 3D and 2D animation works well in separating the parable stories from the "real" action. It is a jolt at first, but becomes very acceptable as the film goes on.
Don't let the "puppet" idea keep an adult viewer away from this wonderful film. It is a concept that makes the Bible stories wonderfully accessible to all age groups.
I enjoyed this immensely, even though the reception on my TV was terrible. It makes the Bible stories more real than any other film I've seen. The claymation really worked and the change to animation for the parables and such was interesting. On the downside it seemed a little hurried, but trying to get all the significant events of Jesus' life into two hours is a tall order (and some were still left out, as others have stated). Overall an excellent presentation and ABC is to be highly commended for having the guts to show it.
Wow! This movie has such stunning visuals. The first time I saw an ad for it on TV, I could not tell that they were clay figures. They really looked lifelike. Not only this, but I thought this movie was really a lot better than most of the live action "Jesus" movies I've seen. Its dialogue was a lot more down to earth and probably closer to the way He would have spoken. Even though I was annoyed by the switching back and forth between drawn animation and claymation at first, it grew on me, and I think it had a good effect. Even though the voice actors were too dramatic at times, they really delivered a great performance overall. In short, this movie was a great ending to my Easter.
I don't care what most critics say. "The Miracle Maker" is going on my Ten
Best List for 2000. I don't care if TV movies are not supposed to be on a
Ten Best List. In my defense, I will say that it was a theatrical feature in
England and Europe, where they have the courage to release challenging and
original films like this one. Shame on Artisan for not giving this the
theatrical release it deserved. Unfortunately, in this age of films aimed
more and more at teenagers, films like "Pollock", "Dr. T and the Women" and
"The Miracle Maker" get lost in the shuffle.
While it is normally a caveat to condense a rich and lengthy story such as the life of Jesus Christ in a short running time, we already have a film that really goes into great detail about Jesus: Franco Zefferelli's 1977 masterpiece "Jesus of Nazareth". But this is a perfect film for enlightened children and even the parents will love it. The switching from claymation (which is not really clay, but that is unimportant right now)to regular animation is stunning, not distracting as it would be in a lesser film. It is easily the best animated film I've seen all year. Kudos to Mel Gibson and his production company, Icon, for putting the time and effort to making a wonderful film like this. I only wish Artisan had gotten behind it better, along with another Icon production "Felicia's Journey". I recommend both to anyone who wants to see pure cinema at its' finest.
**** out of 4 stars
A Surprisingly useful video. As a teacher of Religious Education this
movie was always going to be useful to me, but as a synopsis of the New
Testament based largely upon the Gospel of Luke, this video offers an
uncanny degree of insight. The creators have bothered to research
particulars and peculiarities of life at the time of Jesus, and
although there are particular details missing that disappoint me (e.g.
the absence of the Dove at the Baptism narrative), individual
cut-scenes from this movie make excellent alternatives to trying to get
pupils to struggle through texts from the New Testament in class.
The frequent transitions between clay and cartoon animation as a theatrical technique needs explanation before use, especially if only watching brief clips, but these do not detract from the pupils own ability to empathise with characters and evaluate stories based on its presentation.
As an overall synopsis various pericopes are omitted, but this can easily be forgiven a movie of a commercial length, and suitable for pupils to watch in the course of an afternoon.
I personally, as a passionate Christian and student of New Testament Theology, find it a moving and engaging presentation, and it is among the DVD's that I'll stick on on a lazy Sunday afternoon: it's fine for the kids to watch (although obviously they don't get much of its meaning), and I'll enjoy it, too.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"The Miracle Maker" is such a great film. It is easily one of the best
movies inspired in the gospel. While the script it's very faithful to
the Bible, the life of Jesus of Nazareth is portrayed in a very
artistic, poetic way combing stop motion animation with some
traditionally animated sequences and the result was simply outstanding.
Ralph Fiennes gives a great voice performance, and the rest of the cast
made a great work as well. The plot of this film describes the life of
Jesus Christ through the eyes of a young girl, Tamar, the daughter of
the Jairus (Which is not named in the Bible) and the result is
beautifully made, being a great movie for the whole family. I think
that even those aren't Christian would be able to enjoy this film due
to the high quality of this film.
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