Jump to content

Paul the Apostle


Peter T Chattaway
 Share

Recommended Posts

Well I guess this is the best place to write my thoughts on Peter and Paul which I finally saw on Tuesday having ended my new film fast thing at the weekend.

Overall I found it a bit like I find Acts the book. The first half is really interesting, varied, and keeps a lively pace, but then it sort of peters out (no pun intended).

Hopkins, is, as you'd expect, great, and he gets a really good mix of the hothead we know him to be from his writings, without playing him as the vitrilolic bigot that he's so often thought to be like by people today. This view always seems a bit out of context, and casts him as someone who would be unlikely to acheive what he did. (Intriguingly I think if you look through the New Testament for bigotry Jesus could come off worse than Paul with his comments to the syro-phoenician woman - wonder how long it will be before society decides their done with Paul and turns on Jesus, anyway...). But Hopkins does this better than any of the other actors I've seen play Paul, although surprisingly he delivers Paul's most vitriolic line (why don't they just go and castrate themselves?) cooly and calmly, as if he's talking about removing a toenail clipping rather than, well... you know..

I've actually realised that I left behind the notes I made duiring watching the film, so when I've found them I'll post more extensively. The thing I most liked about this was the way the script made constant biblical references like little Pauline phrases (like he had not yet realised their full power), or Psalms or bits of prophets. Paul's command of the OT was pretty staggering when we consider that his OT wasn't all in one nice little volume and he didn't have a concordance, nor could he leave a gap and find the quote later. He seems pretty steeped in the OT - I imagine he would have had to have memorised huge parts of it to be able to pul out all the passing references and connotaions he does. And the film gets this.

I was less convinced with his use of some of Jesus's materieal, as he doesn't really do this much in his letters. I'm sure he knew bits of it, ut he doesn't seem to use it and I'm not sure he would have known bits verbatim as the film suggests particularly as some of those bits probably hadn't been written in the form we know them either. But it is interesting how that as Paul goes on he uses Jesus's words less and less and starts to use his own more. Perhaps this is suggesting that as he went on he had more confidence in his own stuff.

The real let down is Peter. Early on he seems to have decided he couldn't lead people despite a great Pentecost preach and called James in to do it for him. He then feels unhappy about the situation but tends to moan about it rather than do it. But he and Paul get on well and he seems to inspire Paul at the start but then doesn't speak to him for 8 years, and then there is the council of Jerusalem and the clash of Gal 2, and then never speak again. After this Peter wanders around going to Babylon (?) and eventually re-tracing Paul's steps, and only returning to real on the edge preaching once Paul dies, but its only a matter of weeks before he'll die too, and it just seems like a ditthering old man trying to make somthing of him.

This is all wrong for a number of reasons. Firstly Peter is played into a weak role. Its not Robert Foxworth's fault he can't match Hopkins, but the script for Peter is poor too. Key Petrine moments are erased completly - notably, Peter's last main solo narrative with his vision and Cornellius. Bu later on we delve into fiction (or perhaps its less well known legend with the closing scenes), but ignores more popular "legends" such as the Quo Vadis moment. By ending on the weak Peter, the film ends badly really. once Paul is dead then fun has gone too.

There are a few moments in the second half which let Paul down too. Dramtically the shoipwreck is potentially an exciting scene, but all we get is refenece top a storm and then everyone arriving on the beach clinging on to driftwood, and the legal drama is left to the scne with Festus and Agrippa. I do find this a bit tedious in Acts, but I wondered if you got some of the teams that have made good legal dramas in whether a much better job of this could have been made.

Problem is I can't remember the good stuff as well, but there was lots of it. The first half really was very well done. I'll maybe post once I've got some more notes.

Matt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

MattPage wrote:

: I was less convinced with his use of some of Jesus's materieal, as he doesn't

: really do this much in his letters.

Actually, what's striking about his use of Jesus's material in his letters is that he always uses it in a "Don't you remember me telling you this?" kind of way -- since the film shows Paul delivering BOTH oral AND written tradition, it is only fitting that it should show more of the oral part than Paul's letters show.

: The real let down is Peter. Early on he seems to have decided he couldn't lead

: people despite a great Pentecost preach and called James in to do it for him.

I didn't think this film HAD a great Pentecost speech. My problem is not so much with the character of Peter himself as it is with the filmmakers' decision to skip everything up to the martyrdom of Stephen, and to portray the church as this tiny, fragile, frightened, uncertain group of Jews in Jerusalem who could barely understand what Paul was up to. This is one of those things that A.D. Anno Domini does a LOT better -- it begins, in fact, not with Acts, but with the end of Luke, and shows how the Resurrection itself led to Pentecost, which in turn led to the creation of the diaconate as an outreach to Hellenistic Jews, which in turn led to the role that Philip and other Hellenistic Jews played in reaching out to the Samaritans and so forth, which in turn helped pave the way for Paul when he finally got on board. (However, alas, A.D.'s Paul sounds NOTHING like the Paul of the epistles, which, as you note, Anthony Hopkins embodies so, so well.)

: After this Peter wanders around going to Babylon (?) . . .

Based on a literal reading of one of the Petrine epistles, I think. Many people think Peter was actually using a nickname for Rome, though.

: There are a few moments in the second half which let Paul down too. Dramtically

: the shoipwreck is potentially an exciting scene, but all we get is refenece top a

: storm and then everyone arriving on the beach clinging on to driftwood . . .

Well, TV budgets, y'know. smile.gif

: Problem is I can't remember the good stuff as well, but there was lots of it. The

: first half really was very well done. I'll maybe post once I've got some more notes.

Looking forward to it!

"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

: I was less convinced with his use of some of Jesus's materieal, as he doesn't

: really do this much in his letters.

Actually, what's striking about his use of Jesus's material in his letters is that he always uses it in a "Don't you remember me telling you this?" kind of way -- since the film shows Paul delivering BOTH oral AND written tradition, it is only fitting that it should show more of the oral part than Paul's letters show.

Ooh good point - although I think I still find the types of things he uses and the way they are worded a bit too canonical at this point.

: I didn't think this film HAD a great Pentecost speech.

Sorry it doesn't, but the film seems to ignore the fact that thousands of people were added to the Christians at Pentecost, and that Peter went around being bold, and cut in at a point when he's not doing much and show hims as dithering. That was more what I meant anyway.

: This is one of those things that A.D. Anno Domini does a LOT better -- it begins,

: in fact, not with Acts

Not seen it since I was a kid sadly.

: After this Peter wanders around going to Babylon (?) . . .

Based on a literal reading of one of the Petrine epistles, I think. Many people think Peter was actually using a nickname for Rome, though.

Actually I thought that Babylon was so universally understood as code for Rome that when he said it I expected that to be what he meant (particulraly given that was where he ended up), so I was quite shocked that it was interpretted as literally babylon in this film.

: There are a few moments in the second half which let Paul down too. Dramtically

: the shoipwreck is potentially an exciting scene, but all we get is refenece top a

: storm and then everyone arriving on the beach clinging on to driftwood . . .

Well, TV budgets, y'know

Yeah but even Paul the Emissary managed to get a decent version of this - all you need is a blue screen and a hose.

Won't be able to post the rest until after the New Year I'm afraid.

Matt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Ok here's a random collection of thoughts:

I found it interesting that the film stresses the change of name being fom the Hebrew Saul to the Roman Paul. I'd never really twigged that that was what went on. It certainly makes more sense of where the name change occurs in Acts, which was something that had always puzzled me.

I found the stoning scenes quite interesting as well. In Jesus films we never really see one (save Life of Brian of course which doesn't really help factually), only Jesus stopping one. Here we see a few, and there are a few interesting details. In one of them its actualloy a woman who throws the first stone which I thought was a curious twist on JOhn 8. One thing I've always wondered is how come Paul survived so many stonings. I mean unless you run out of rocks or the stoners have a really bad aim, it's difficult to visualise. And the film did this well. (FWIW I'm sure that at one point the actor who plays Steven is an extra who throws a stone in another scene - irony). Also ineresting that in some of the scenes the crowd gets stoned just for being there.

THe way the restrictions get handled is thought provoking as well. I guess going into the film I thought Paul had agreed on certain compromises which he then seems to flout later in his letters. The film takes the view that the Jewish church rejects salvation by faith alone, but agrees with Paul pretty much, but then quickly goes back on it, leading to the agument with Peter and Paul from Gal 2. I presume thieir version of things sees Acts as airbrushing, or rather consolidating a longer debate into one incident.

I hadn't realised btw that Silas was being played by Gimli (John Rhys-Davies). ANd for British viewers the main Juadiser in the film is played by the guy who plays Howard (as in the legendary Howard and Hilda from Ever Decreasing Circles starring Richard Briers)

THe slave girl of Philippi here is "gifted" rather than demonised, and this generally fits with the way the film downplays the supernatral elemnts of the story. So Pentecost occus before the film, the visions are restricted to bright lights, Paul's sight is restored but it only looks like some dried skin is soohed or something, the death of annanias and Saphira is ignored (again, a bible film that cuts out the troubling bits), Peter's escape from jail is an earthquake rather than an angel, the supernatural intervention surrounding the shipwreck is missed out and we just see them washed on to the beach. THere are some supernatural elements, but they are generally sidelined. Its particularly interesting then that the film gives us the definition of a miracle as an "event that produces faith"

As I think I said above one of the things I liked about the film was the way it worked later themes in as if Paul is developing them,or coining them and coming back to them. I particularly liked the way it works 1 Cor 1 in there. (one day I might do a film series / or essay on the se of this passage - it also occurs in the MIssion, 3 Colours Blue and 4 Weddings and a funeral).

I was also surprised that Cornellius' vision was absent. It sems to me that Acts really hinges on ch 8-10. The executiom of Steven forces many members of the church to leave Jerusalem and thus take the message further afiedl, then Paul is appointed to the gentiles and Peter has his vision. This film makes little of the first aspect, and nothing of the last.

I also thought the idspute between Paul and Barnabas was handled effectively and the whole portrayal of Paul as a great man, but one hwo is flawed is the films real strength.

One other thing I though was interesting was how at times the film casts both Peter and Paul as Jesus, through certain scenes / shots that are very reminiscient of Jesus. Peter gets this early onin an upper room, and Paul somewhat later on as he stands silent before Nero.

So that's about it. Hopefully I'm getting Paul the Apostle soon.

Matt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

MattPage wrote:

: I was also surprised that Cornellius' vision was absent. It sems to me that Acts

: really hinges on ch 8-10. The executiom of Steven forces many members of the

: church to leave Jerusalem and thus take the message further afiedl, then Paul is

: appointed to the gentiles and Peter has his vision. This film makes little of the

: first aspect, and nothing of the last.

This is partly why I say A.D. Anno Domini (1985) is good for the first half of Acts and then I recommend Peter and Paul (1981) for the second half. A.D. also makes the point that Stephen himself was a HELLENISTIC Jew -- the first Christian to be killed by the Sanhedrin was already on the margins of Palestinian Jewish culture -- and that the appointment of the Deacons, all of whom had Greek names, was kind of a prelude to the mission to the Gentiles.

"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

Just noticed the sub heading of this thread (Bible Collection's final video), and it reminds me of something I've been meaning to post for ages. Ebay keeps coming up with other titles it claims are from the series, mainly New Testament stories focussing on some of the minor characters in the Jesus story. So there's a Thomas, a Mary Magdalene, a Joseph, and a few others. Does anyone know anything about these? I assume they're not quite legit, and probably any god, but I just wondered what the deal with them was.

Matt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sounds like these films.

"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

  • 4 months later...
  • 10 years later...

This is one of half a dozen films I mentioned in a recent post on cinematic portrayals of Gamaliel.

 

It's actually one of the more extensive treatments of Gamaliel that I can think of; only 1985's A.D. Anno Domini goes further in making Gamaliel a major character, I would argue, and even *then*, it doesn't make Gamaliel part of the story after Paul's conversion the way that Paul the Apostle does.

"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...