Jump to content

roger young's 'jesus' (1999)


Peter T Chattaway
 Share

Recommended Posts

Links to the Hail Mary and Passion threads where this movie has been mentioned recently.

I just finished watching the American broadcast version of this film for the first time ever. When I wrote an article on Jesus movies for Books & Culture four years ago, the producers sent me a copy of the European version (which was broadcast on European TV several months before CBS broadcast it in the States), so until now, that had been the only version I had ever seen; but an e-pal of mine videotaped the show (for some reason I didn't tape it myself) and sent me his copy, which I had been sitting on ever since -- until today.

I have not seen the European version since way-back-when, so I only noticed three things that seemed different to me, all of which were omissions (if anything was ADDED, I missed it): (1) No fart joke in the play that Livio (Police Academy's G.W. Bailey) puts on for Pontius Pilate (Gary Oldman) at the beginning of part two. (2) When Jesus says "they know not what they do" and Livio replies, to himself, "We know exactly what we're doing," I believe the European version continued this line so that he goes on to say, "We're killing you," which I remember thinking was unnecessary; frankly, I still think Livio's line is unnecessary, even in this shorter version. (3) In the European version, Jesus walks out of the Upper Room and ends up in the modern era, wearing jeans IIRC and walking with some children, while LeAnn Rimes's hit song 'I Need You' starts up; but in the version my friend taped off of TV, Jesus walks out of the Upper Room, we fade to commercial, and when we come back, we go straight to the end credits. Hmmm, I wonder what the DVD is like, compared to these tapes.

At the moment, I don't really have anything to add to the review I wrote at the time. I still think this film presents a very interesting attempt to explore the humanity of Christ, but while it thankfully doesn't make him the neurotic mess that Scorsese's Jesus was, it also doesn't make him seem very, well, um, authoritative. And the film as a whole is just too pedestrian.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Firstly Peter I have to express my appreciation for the one man crusade you've been fighting to get as many Jesus film threads on the board at once! :wink: I love it. When it comes to talking intelligently about foreign film I'm well out of my depth, but back in Jesus film world I can quote tiny bits of detail to my hearts content.

I really like Roger Young's version. Its probably the one I'd be most likely to show to a non-Christian if asked (actually The Miracle Maker would be a good shot as well, it would depend on the person I s'pose - its also only 1 of 3 we have in our church library - restraint on my part as the resources manager!). It certainly does have its flaws. The authority issue is one thing, but also Jesus's goofing around does get a bit wearing - OK we get it he was fun! Also the trial & crucifixion scenes are all over very quickly, tho' that does give us a bit more time to see miracles & hear teaching. Oh and the auburn hair - a let down.

In terms of pluses, barring a little over emphasis on the goofing as noted above, I like the overall portrayal of Jesus. Someone you could relate to and admire, a good emphasis on humanity (from someone with a more positive view of humanity). It pushes the envelope a bit without going to Scorcese's extremes. The additional sequences (of which their are a lot) are generally fairly plausible, I liked the death of Joseph scene, and the Mary scenes.

In terms of the differences between versions, I have both versions on tape. I taped it off Sky when it was shown over here, and a friend imported it from the states. There are a few more differences than you picked up, which fortunatly I have some of them written down

1 - The Mary scene pushes things a bit further in the US version - I think the US version implies Jesus has expressed feelings / been involved with for Mary in the past.

2 - In the US version there is an extra scene in which Mary the Mother of Jesus recalls Jesus as a boy healing a bird (which I believe is in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas)

3 - There's also some differences in the future dreams. I think the CBS version cuts stuff at the start and puts them in later.

Actually IIRC there was a list of them at Hollywood Jesus (Oh look - there's Darrel Manson's review). The same page (not sure whether this was Darrel or not) lists other changes CBS made

4 - Cut out the nail scene

5 - Cut out the screms of Jesus

Actually now I see the full list there are loads.

Full list of differences is here

I'm most surprised by the cut to the ending as the "European" ending seems from my perspective to be a bit more, um, American.

Matt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

MattPage wrote:

: When it comes to talking intelligently about foreign film I'm well out of

: my depth, but back in Jesus film world I can quote tiny bits of detail to

: my hearts content.

Dude, if I ever write that book I've been wanting to write for so many years, you KNOW you'll be at the top of the thank-you list! smile.gif

: 1 - The Mary scene pushes things a bit further in the US version - I think

: the US version implies Jesus has expressed feelings / been involved with

: for Mary in the past.

Hmmm. I may have to re-watch those bits of the European version, since that's the section of the film I was most interested in.

BTW, speaking of sexuality and romance in Jesus films, I do think it is interesting that this film manages to distance Jesus from anything scandalous or unseemly by making his love interest, as it were, Mary the sister of Lazarus and NOT Mary Magdalene. And yet this film also emphasizes the sexuality of Mary Magdalene in a way that no Jesus movie apart from Scorsese's has ever really done -- the first time we see her, we get a good long look at her bare back as she gets up out of bed and slowly puts her dress on; and then there is another shot, much later in the film, in which we see Mary and one of her clients 'in the act' -- this second shot takes place shortly before the scene in which Magdalene witnesses Jesus forgiving the woman caught in adultery.

I am not entirely sure I approve of these flourishes -- I happened to re-watch the first half-hour of The Last Days of Disco the night before, which includes the sequence where Chloe Sevigny and Robert Sean Leonard dance into his bedroom, and then he shuts the door, and then we fade out, and then we fade in on the outside of Leonard's apartment, as Sevigny makes her early-morning exit. We don't need to actually SEE the sex to know that something dehumanizing and shameful has transpired.

: 2 - In the US version there is an extra scene in which Mary the Mother of

: Jesus recalls Jesus as a boy healing a bird (which I believe is in the

: Infancy Gospel of Thomas)

Oh, right! If there was ANY one scene which caused me to think, "I don't think I saw this in the other version," it was this one, precisely because it was such an odd thing to throw into the story that I'm pretty sure it would have stuck in my memory the first time around. (It is especially odd when you consider that this film follows a Johannine template, and John's gospel specifies that the miracle in Cana was the first of Jesus' miracles.) Technically, I believe the Infancy Gospel of Thomas has Jesus turning a clay bird into a real bird, but yeah, it's in that league.

: 3 - There's also some differences in the future dreams. I think the CBS

: version cuts stuff at the start and puts them in later.

Hmmm. But it still has the dreams and nightmares, right?

: 5 - Cut out the screms of Jesus

Hmmm, Jesus did scream in the version I saw yesterday. But perhaps there were even more screams in the European version.

: I'm most surprised by the cut to the ending as the "European" ending

: seems from my perspective to be a bit more, um, American.

Yeah, exactly!

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

: Dude, if I ever write that book I've been wanting to write for so many

: years, you KNOW you'll be at the top of the thank-you list!

Nice! Actually I've written 3 chapters towards my book working title Moses in the Movies (which is actually on the back burner right now), but I quote a bit from your article in Biblical Archaeology (Review?) so coming back at ya.

BTW, speaking of sexuality and romance in Jesus films, I do think it is interesting that this film manages to distance Jesus from anything scandalous or unseemly by making his love interest, as it were, Mary the sister of Lazarus and NOT Mary Magdalene. And yet this film also emphasizes the sexuality of Mary Magdalene in a way that no Jesus movie apart from Scorsese's has ever really done -- the first time we see her, we get a good long look at her bare back as she gets up out of bed and slowly puts her dress on; and then there is another shot, much later in the film, in which we see Mary and one of her clients 'in the act' -- this second shot takes place shortly before the scene in which Magdalene witnesses Jesus forgiving the woman caught in adultery.  

I am not entirely sure I approve of these flourishes -- I happened to re-watch the first half-hour of The Last Days of Disco the night before, which includes the sequence where Chloe Sevigny and Robert Sean Leonard dance into his bedroom, and then he shuts the door, and then we fade out, and then we fade in on the outside of Leonard's apartment, as Sevigny makes her early-morning exit. We don't need to actually SEE the sex to know that something dehumanizing and shameful has transpired.

The European version only shows the Magdalene stuff before the "John 8" passage, and I don't think it shows them in the act, just the bit straight afterwards, where a blow of the wind gives us a DeMille-esque titillation/morality combination. The Hollywood Jesus link is very precise on all the differences IIRC

Not seen Last Days of Disco but I guess its the same with Bob & the Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme woman in Lost in Translation

: Hmmm. But it still has the dreams and nightmares, right?

Yeah, I think they just move one shot (the girl at the stake) from the start to the gethsemane bit. I can't remember which version does which tho & the Hollywood Jesus list seems to contradict itself on this point.

Matt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Just a note to the effect that, as reported over on the Judas thread, CBS is apparently editing this mini-series down to two hours for a re-run on March 28. I wonder if they will add any footage that only made it into the European version, like those bits from the crucifixion scene which go out of their way to place the blame for Jesus' death on the Romans, or if they will add any footage that has not been seen yet at ALL.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

(on Roger Young's Jesus, from the Last Temptation thread)

From John's perspective its clear he and Jesus haven't seen each other for years - given that everyone else that had ever existed has been sinful, its perfectly legitimate for John to have assumed Jesus was too, so his statement is perfectly valid.

The gospel stories make it perfectly clear that John understood that Jesus was not like everyone else -- that he was the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, whose sandal John wasn't worthy to unstrap -- so much so that John hesitated to baptize Jesus on the grounds that it was he, John, who had need to be baptized by Jesus.

John was a prophet anointed by the Holy Spirit from birth. As a very fetus he leaped in the womb at the very sound of Jesus' mother's voice. To imagine him thinking of Jesus as an ordinary sinful person who needs to confess his sins and be baptized for repentance is, I think, a bit ridiculous.

2 - Jesus is responding to two conditions here \"that he confesses his sins\" and \"That he dedicate his life to God\". There's no reason per se why his \"Of course\" should be replying to both, rather than just the latter.

Of course there is. John has just listed two conditions for Jesus to receive baptism, and Jesus' response indicates acceptance of John's terms. That is the only natural and honest way to interpret his response.

3 - It would be pedantic of Jesus to point out at this point that he has never sinned, and that isn't the type of Jesus they seek to portray.

The Jesus of the gospels certainly didn't hesitate to challenge and confound other people's mistaken assumptions about him. Beyond that, Jesus just couldn't agree to something under false pretenses for the sake of avoiding "pedantry."

Whatsmore it would have meant the film would have to go into a discussion of why Jesus thought that, and its unlikely the Baptist would have believed him.

Are you serious?

And if he didn't believe him he wasn't the type to just let these things pass.

Neither was Jesus the type to just let these things pass.

4 - Furthermore Jesus is accepting the conditions of baptism not admitting his own sin. To turn it into that is to interpret the statement and may or may not be fair enough, but its adding to the statement rather than accepting it at face value.

I disagree. The requirement was not "Confess your sins, if any." To agree to this stipulation was tantamount to an admission of sin.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I guess I might as well quote one of my posts from that thread, too, then. smile.gif

- - -

SDG wrote:

: I don't accept that Jesus "shared in corporate sins" or had anything to

: "confess." Beyond that, by inviting Jesus as an individual to "confess

: your sins" and then baptizing him "for repentance," it is clear that John

: means that Jesus must confess personal sin, which Jesus could not agree

: to do.

You are quite possibly right that "your" indicates personal sin on Jesus' part in this film, but you are certainly wrong when you say that being baptized "for repentance" entails an admission of personal sin on the part of the baptizee -- at least when that person is Jesus.

I cannot put this better than Catholic scholar John P. Meier (pages 110, 113-114):

Certainly Jesus' acceptance of John's baptism means that Jesus saw himself very much as a part of the people of Israel -- which in John's vision of things means part of a sinful people threatened with divine destruction. Jesus accepted John's baptism of repentance as the divinely appointed means of passage from this sinful Israel to a group of Israelites promised salvation on the day of judgment.

[ snip ]

Here again we face a cultural and religious gap between the 1st and the 20th centuries. Modern Christians, especially Catholics, think of repentance and confession of sins very much in terms of the personal sins of the individual penitent with an uneasy conscience. For example, despite all the exhortations of the post-Vatican II church, some Catholics who frequent the confessional still tend to see confession as a time for excessive introspection and the dredging up of every past peccadillo that can be recalled. The spotlight is focused on the private conscience of the individual, judging in isolation his or her actions. In this, such Catholics remain heirs of what Krister Stendahl years ago branded "the introspective conscience of the West." At the time, Stendahl was warning against interpreting Paul, who was actually focusing on the fate of whole peoples within the sweep of salvation history, in terms of the later perspective of an Augustine or a Luther, the perspective of the tortured conscience of an introspective individual trying to find a gracious God.

The same warning holds true, a fortiori, of our interpretation of Jesus -- especially since we have had our introspective tendencies both deepened by Freud and cheapened by Californian psycho-babble. Confession of sin in ancient Israel did not mean unraveling a lengthy laundry-list of personal peccadilloes, with the result that worship of God was turned into a narcissistic reflection on self. Confession of sin in ancient Israel was a God-centred act of worship that included praise and thanksgiving. Confession of sin often meant recalling God's gracious deeds for an ungrateful Israel, a humble admission that one was a member of this sinful people, a recounting of the infidelities and apostasies of Israel from early on down to one's own day, and a final resolve to change and be different from one's ancestors. Even apart from the question of one's particular personal sins, one was part of this history of sin simply because one was part of this sinful people.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The gospel stories make it perfectly clear that John understood that Jesus was not like everyone else -- that he was the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, whose sandal John wasn't worthy to unstrap -- so much so that John hesitated to baptize Jesus on the grounds that it was he, John, who had need to be baptized by Jesus.

Man I'm stupid sometimes. Can't belieev I forgot about that!

John was a prophet anointed by the Holy Spirit from birth. As a very fetus he leaped in the womb at the very sound of Jesus' mother's voice. To imagine him thinking of Jesus as an ordinary sinful person who needs to confess his sins and be baptized for repentance is, I think, a bit ridiculous.
Yeah I thought about the leaping bit, but that doesn't mean that he'll know Jesus has never sinned as an adult

: Of course there is. John has just listed two conditions for Jesus to

: receive baptism, and Jesus' response indicates acceptance of John's

: terms. That is the only natural and honest way to interpret his response.

No he accepts the terms, but thats not the same as saying "yes I'm sinful" there's a big gap between those two points

: The Jesus of the gospels certainly didn't hesitate to challenge and

: confound other people's mistaken assumptions about him. Beyond that,

: Jesus just couldn't agree to something under false pretenses for the

: sake of avoiding "pedantry."

Yeah but as I said It would be out of character for the Jesus in the film. I'm happy to accept that the film doesn't make him as contraversial as he was, but I don't accept that the film makes him a sinner.

:: Whats more it would have meant the film would have to go into a

:: discussion of why Jesus thought that, and its unlikely the Baptist would

:: have believed him.

: Are you serious?

Yeah, I don't see this John the Baptist just sitting back and accepting anything that this Jesus said.

: Neither was Jesus the type to just let these things pass.

Again I'm not talking about the real Jesus, I'm talking about the one in the film

: I disagree. The requirement was not "Confess your sins, if any." To

: agree to this stipulation was tantamount to an admission of sin.

Well the stipulation wouldn't have been "Confess your sins if any" because it had never needed the if any before or after, and given the way the film portrays John, he has no reason to add this caveat in. Surely you can see that changing "Of course" into "yes I confess I am a sinner" involves interepretation?

Ultimately I think the film sells John's prophetic nature a bit short, not Jesus's sinless nature, and its main weakness is Jesus's lack of authority.

Matt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You know, it occurs to me I never linked to my original review of this film in this thread.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Crap, I forgot all about this broadcast -- I should have taped it, so I could compare and contrast it to the other two versions of the film out there.

- - -

Second Coming of 'Jesus' Fails to Attract

Television audiences did not show the same sort of passion about CBS's Jesus Sunday night that movie audiences did about Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. A repeat of the second part of the network's 2000 miniseries drew a 7.1 rating and an 11 share, well below the ratings for NBC's Law & Order: Criminal Intent at 9:00 p.m., which nabbed a 9.5/14 and Crossing Jordan at 10:00 p.m., which scored a 9.8/17. The movie was second in its time period in the 9:00 hour and third in its time perioid at 10:00 p.m. hour. The original telecast, which included a two-hour opening episode about Christ's early life, drew 21 million viewers and was the highest-rated miniseries of the 2000-2001 season.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 years later...

It's being re-issued to DVD this week. But which version will the disc include: the American version or the European version? (It's probably hoping too much for BOTH to be included on the disc.)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...