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8 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Oh my gosh - look what the church dragged in!, 12 July 2000

Simply put, this is one of the worst films ever made, especially given its original lofty notions. The film claims to give a 'modern day' interpretation of Jesus Christ ("Jesse" in the movie). It claims to have everything in the Gospels translated in modern language and setting.

Rarely ever has there been such a lofty aim with such a loud thud. In other words, this movie is just no good. I base this decisive view on a number of points.

First is the issue of interpretation of Christ. In the New Testament, Christ is projected to be not a reformer but a radical social (not political for you Commies!) revolutionary. He overruled the norms and bigotries of his time. He reached out to the hated tax collectors who symbolized Roman oppression over the Jews (including the Clarence Thomas of his day, Jewish tax collectors). He spke to women on equal terms, reached out to hated ethnic minorities, loved the lowest of the low such as prostitutes and made radical declarations which overruled beloved Mosaic law. He claimed to be the Messiah. Yet, he was no affluent king who ruled with violence. Rather, he was a prince who came from the rags of the poor and lived among the rabble of the unwanted.

Yet, what do we find with this "Jesse"? We find nothing. Gone is Christ's radical compassion. Instead, we find someone who fits the reform-minded interpretation of Christ as seen by many today. That is, he is seen as a man who got along to get along who once in a while makes outstanding but far from revolutionary comments. Never does this Christ find time to make radical pronouncements about the social structure as Christ did. This Christ does not move forward or even stand still. Rather, he goes backward toward the 'dead center' theory of Christ, complete with the handing out of bread and cheese (more on that later). This Christ is not a radical but a dud reformer. If Christ were like that some 2,000 years ago, history would not have been made. Instead, jesus would have been seen as some guy who wanted to change things but was too busy messing around with his disciples in the river.

Race is a vital subpoint to this. Of course, attacking bigotry was central to Christ's message. By reaching out to hated ethnic minorities and women, plus placing the outcast in his own form on earth ("whatever you do to the least of these..."), Christ attacked bigotry and inequality. Yet, this new Jesse has nothing to say about bigotry or racism. I found it disturbing and all too telling about the film maker's far right view that Christ's 12 disciples were all white males. Hmmm....does not the fact that the director made a cameo as a risen confederate solder making the ascension to heaven give us a gesture toward the world view if not the politics of the film makers? All in all, the film has nothing to say about today's racial and ethnic hatred. With the church being so ignorant and harmful in this racial issue, the film does not act as a helper, but instead ignores the issue and allows Christians who watch it to not have their conscience awoken. Shame on them for missing that opportunity.

Next is the spector of anti-semitism. OK - this film is not racist or anti-semetic itself, but it sure flirts with traditional Lutheresque "Christ killer" remarks. The main leader is obviously a Jew. It is he who takes the charismatic lead in attacking Jesus rhetorically. It is he who takes the lead in putting Christ up on the cross and puts the crown of thorns upon his head. It is he who will suffer God's personal wrath. Given past Jewish suffering at the hands of "Christians," it is improper and morally offensive to have a blatantly Jewish person play the religious leader who goes on the offensive against Christ. I hope that the film makers did not do that on purpose - though I see no reason to believe that they did not, given the blatant "Christ killer" references.

This film is so God-awful that I had to take out the other major flaws of the film in this review. I have not mentioned the literal interpretation of Christ's actions in today's terms. For example, instead of passing out Whoppers or Big Macs (or even Hot Pockets!)to the hungry crowd, Christ feeds them with bread and cheese! Also, Christ in the 1990's is hung on a cross - not executed Texas-style. In short, this film has major cinematic and theological problems. It takes the radical Christ of 2,000 years ago and turns him into a would-be Mr. Rogers.