The life story of Jesus is told from his humble birth through his teachings, crucifixion and ultimate resurrection.The life story of Jesus is told from his humble birth through his teachings, crucifixion and ultimate resurrection.The life story of Jesus is told from his humble birth through his teachings, crucifixion and ultimate resurrection.
Every Jesus film will have faithless critics that caricature the movie. Every Jesus film will have some of "the faithful" bickering over whatever artistic license filmmakers employ.
So, is Son of God worth the risk? Financially, Hollywood will likely say yes. The buzz for Son of God is big. Perhaps it will match viewership with The Bible miniseries that the movie is derived from.
But is the Son of God worth a trip to the cinema? It depends on perspective.
The dramatic introduction, as with the rest of the story, is narrated by John--Jesus' closest friend and disciple. Seeing everything from the garden to the promised land in a minute is dazzling. We have The Bible miniseries to thank for this.
Some blame the miniseries adaptation for disjointed early parts of the movie. I actually found it unified and quick-paced in the scripting though not in the editing. Dramatic pauses between lines could have been cut throughout. However, the miracles, teachings and confrontations with pharisees, political revolutionaries and Roman forces are woven tightly. Nicodemus (and Matthew) gave dimension to the pharisees. Unfortunately the Barabbas, Malchus and Pilate characters lack depth.
Nearing the crucifixion, the tension ramps well. There was a poignant contrast of prayers by Roman rulers, the Jewish High Priest and Jesus. The whipping and journey to Golgotha was less intense than Gibson's Passion of the Christ. Still, I noticed several weeping in the theater.
After Jesus' last words, "Go into all the world and preach the good news..." Peter gives what I took as the point of this film, "My brothers my sisters, we have work to do."
For people of faith, I believe we should work to extend grace toward filmmakers, understanding their humanity and forgiving whatever errors we perceive. Major motion pictures about faith stories will be blessings--not perfect miracles.
For filmmakers who are eying this type of production, I'd say there is much more work needed to create authentic stories that will resonate with this audience's sensibilities.
For this year of the Bible to be worth the risk, and go beyond 2014, filmmakers and the faith community alike will need to work out differences in artistry and theology to make successful films that will endure.
- Mar 3, 2014