Biblical epic from the book of Acts and Paul's epistles covering the conversion of Saul of Tarsus and his ministry to the Gentiles now known as Paul. Pursued by fellow Jew, Reuben, who ... See full summary »
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F. Murray Abraham,
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Maria Grazia Cucinotta,
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Regardt van den Bergh
Biblical epic from the book of Acts and Paul's epistles covering the conversion of Saul of Tarsus and his ministry to the Gentiles now known as Paul. Pursued by fellow Jew, Reuben, who wishes him dead, Paul takes the Gospel of Jesus thru-out the known world to Rome. Written by
Not paying attention to the opening credits as I was testing my new 42" plasma HDTV, I was torn between assuming that the lead actor portraying Paul was Richard Chamberlain or a look-alike. I settled for the latter but after looking at the other supporting actors, I changed my mind and decided it was Chamberlain after all beneath that beard. What threw me off? The actress who portrayed Dina. I could have sworn that was my favorite underrated actress Linda Purl. So while there were many Italians in the cast, the lead actors were English-speaking and Linda was there, so the lead must have been Chamberlain. But I was mistaken because not only was the actor who portrayed Paul looked like a Chamberlain doppelganger to me, but the Dina wasn't Linda Purl either.
Bailey, who portrayed Barnabas, is a staple supporting actor in many TV series and so for while he had me puzzled as to whether he was another impish doppleganger. He did a great job as a dedicated and slightly comedic disciple.
How about the actor who portrayed Agrippa, a King of the Herodian line who succeeded Antipas? He had a vague resemblance to Sean Connery but I thought "Naah! Couldn't be." Until I heard him speak with that distinctive Connery voice and lisp as well as that masked Scottish accent. Trouble is, the actor for Herod Agrippa is not in the IMDb cast line up at all. I wouldn't be surprised if Connery dubbed for that movie as a sideline though.
The photography, sets, costuming and location shots are great. I particularly liked that slow zooming shot of Apostle Paul as he was in a prison cell in Caesarea Philippi. For one thing, it didn't look like a cell at all but sort of like a garden architecture with what seemed to be a trellis roof covered with straw with beams of sunlight streaming through. Paul is shown writing and the actor's overdubbed voice is reciting that Apostle's lovely epistle on faith, hope and love.
I completely understand why the screen playwrights had to jumble the characters with roles exchanged (as the dialogue indicated) and added a few extra ones. That must have been for the sake of establishing a connecting storyline for all the events in the apostle's life, for brevity and continuity.
My only complaint is that some of the Roman soldiers were skinny and puny. The Roman infantry was the terror of the classical world and they were made up of wiry, sinewy tough men.
Above all, this movie was faithful in presenting some of the earliest doctrines and practices of the Church pushed forth by Paul and Peter.
Peter spoke of his experience seeing a pagan family imbued, filled with the Holy Spirit and exhibiting the charisms. He told the other disciples of his vision when God explained to him that Gentiles may be included in the community despite their non-Jewish customs "as what God hath made clean, thou shalt not call unclean."
There was the First Ecumenical Council at Jerusalem where it was decided that Gentile converts need not submit to Mosaic Law. Of course, James the bishop of Jerusalem who finally worded the encyclical enjoined converts to refrain from blood and the meat of strangled animals, but that too was later put aside thus entirely liberating the gentiles from kosher dietary laws. The film also showed that while Peter was the leader of the early Christians, he did not rule alone but always in unity with the rest of the apostles. Neither was he free from criticism as Paul called attention somewhat harshly to his off and on conformation to Mosaic Law depending on who were watching.
Christian baptism was shown to be done either by aspersion or by immersion. Paul himself was shown as having been baptized by aspersion as they were in the city of Damascus and far from the River Jordan.
Paul's personal suggestion for disciples not to marry to facilitate their mission was well covered too in a dialogue with Barnabas.
This is a movie that should be shown on the networks during Holy Week instead of the 10 Commandments which after all, is not really about Christianity per se but about Judaism.
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