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Peter T Chattaway

The Jesus Film

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And now the New York Times runs an article on this film:

Both patron and producer committed themselves to historical verisimilitude. The film was shot on location in Israel, and every day, film was sent to a panel of biblical scholars for inspection. "We were required to refilm three days' work," Mr. Heyman recalled in a recent e-mail message, "because we had shown eucalyptus trees in a variety of shots. Eucalyptus trees were introduced to Palestine very much later." The British stage actor Brian Deacon was selected, among other reasons, for his "ethnically correct" olive complexion. The cast is strangely filled with Jewish-sounding names: Rivka Neuman (Mary), Leonid Weinstein (James), Eli Cohen (John the Baptist). For extras, Mr. Heyman cast crowds of Yemenite Jews -- because, as Paul Eshleman, the director of the organization that distributes the film, told The Christian Century magazine in 2001, "their facial features have changed the least over 2,000 years."

Unlike biblical epics such as DeMille's "Ten Commandments" and George Stevens's "Greatest Story Ever Told," which add psychological back story and distracting celebrity cameos, "Jesus" presents itself as a literal adaptation. After an incongruous shot of planet Earth from space, screen text announces that the film is a "documentary taken entirely from the Gospel of Luke." A narrator reads from that text -- and then mysteriously disappears midway through the film. Little effort is taken to render Jesus as a three-dimensional character: his dialogue mostly consists of unabridged passages of scripture, and he's barely shown doing anything other than performing miracles and delivering speeches. In terms of special effects, the film offers poofs of smoke and gauzy halos to suggest miracles and angels; a hissing snake and a booming voiceover represent the devil. In the scene in which the Romans beat Jesus, their punches obviously don't connect.

Personally, I like incongruous shots of planet Earth ... Mary of Nazareth begins the same way ... smile.gif

Brian Helstrom, who oversees distribution of the film for the Church of the Nazarene, an evangelical denomination based in Kansas City, Mo., described a screening in a village in Phaphamani, an area of South Africa that had been largely passed over by missionaries. Because the town did not have electricity, the five generator-powered lights that Mr. Helstrom and his fellow missionaries mounted, atop a large screen, attracted a crowd of 350. He ran the projector, and watched the crowd react to what was probably the first film they had ever seen, let alone the first they had seen in their own language. "You could see them physically jump back at the sight of the serpent tempting Jesus," he recalled. "When soldiers whip Jesus, you could hear grown adults crying." After Jesus's death, but before his resurrection, a black South African missionary told the crowd that they had a chance to pray and to accept Christ. "He asked everybody who prayed to walk forward and come into light," Mr. Helstrom says. "One hundred forty-five people walked out of the darkness into light."

And here I thought the whole point of making films about Christ was to spread the gospel to modern western cultures in their own media -- it seems they've settled for overwhelming foreign cultures with the magic of modern technology (with the gospel mixed in for good measure...).

Will Mr. Gibson's "Passion of the Christ" have the same impact that "Jesus" did? The factors behind the success of the earlier film may be difficult to replicate. The number of people on the planet who have never seen a film before is shrinking. And the movie's effectiveness is due in part to the enormous expertise the Campus Crusade has developed in how to screen it. The group has tailored short introductions to the film, showing Christianity's compatibility with local religions. For instance, in Muslim areas, the introduction notes Jesus's presence in the Koran and his importance to Islamic faith.

Besides, even before its release, "The Passion" has developed a somewhat different profile. Rather than trying to minimize the differences between Christianity and local religions, the film has generated concern from critics who say it repeats classic anti-Semitic elements. And rather than telling the story of Jesus's life from birth to death, drawing lessons from a wide variety of incidents, it focuses on the last 12 hours, giving a greater emphasis to his betrayal and crucifixion.

Asked about Mr. Gibson's film, with its vastly larger budget and its celebrity gloss, Mr. Eshleman dismissed it with a classic criticism of Hollywood films "There's a lot of violence in `The Passion,'" he said. "You can't show it to kids."

Hmmm. And this takes us back to that OTHER thread ...

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MattPage   

: "One hundred forty-five people walked out of the darkness into light."

quite literally by the sound of it.

The "you can't show it to kids" is one aspect that bothers me because in the US you will be able to "show it to kids" so long as they're accompanied by their 'too-excited-by-the-thought-of Jesus'-gore-to-think-straight' parents.

Matt

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mike_h   

Just as well stick this notice in this thread. I finally got my Epic Survey of Jesus Movies aloft at the Flickerings web site: http://www.flickerings.com. Some of my reactions to films made it through these threads and emerged modified, and now that the bulk of the reactions are out there, there may be further modification. Any factual errors I would especially appreciate notice of, since this was a lot of material and I can never be sure I've gotten the "ts" crossed and "i's" dotted. Thanks for past and future input on what has been a rewarding crash-course (though I'm ready for a break) and hope others find it interesting. (Will wait for a second look at Mr. Gibson's film next week before rushing off to press with that one...)

[Note from SDG: I edited Mike's post to make the Flickerings link work.]

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SDG   

AFAIK, the American production From the Manger to the Cross dates to 1912, not 1905. The Pathe Life and Passion of Jesus Christ is variously dated 1902 - 1905 because it was expanded with additional footage over several years.

Also, FWIW, I disagree with you about the pageant-like artificiality of the Pathe film but that's a matter of opinion. smile.gif Your favorite moment is one of the most naturalistic touches; I appreciate that moment, but my favorites are the most stylized, including the Resurrection and the Ascension, the "materialization" birth of Jesus, and the scene in which the angel blinds Herod's soldiers to the Holy Family, effectively turning them invisible.

I like your survey of what went wrong with The Greatest Story Ever Told. My favorite bad scene from that bad, bad film:

Centurion: I have orders to bring you to Herod.

Heston [in "cold, dead fingers" voice]: I have orders to bring you to God.

[Centurions attack. They fight in river. Heston performs "combat baptism" on centurions, forcibly ducking them underwater while crying out:]

Heston: Repent! Repent!

After so incisively demolishing Greatest Story, I thought you went awfully easy on The Last Temptation of Christ.

Did The Gospel of John really include some of the "he said"s? I seem to remember them being taken out. I guess I might not have noticed if they weren't consistently taken out. Good point about some scenes, such as the boy Jesus in the temple, working better without any attempt to supply "apocryphal" dialogue for Jesus to speak.

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Hmmm, the Flickerings website isn't working right now ...

SDG wrote:

: AFAIK, the American production From the Manger to the Cross dates to

: 1912, not 1905.

Yes. It is the first feature-length film about Jesus, and I don't believe they were making feature-length films prior to 1912 or so. (From the Manger to the Cross happens to be on the same DVD as the Path

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MattPage   

HI Mike,

I'm keen to read this, but don't seem to be able to get the link to work.

Regarding the Pathe film, I found the more artifical moments the most memorable & the most interesting, and as such they might rank amongst my favourite moments, but they're also the bits that have dated the worst & are the most kistchy (sp?)

FWIW I'm not usually a big fan of Greatest Story either but I was making a montage of the various resurrection scenes from the Jesus films last night for a project I'm working on, and the opening shots of Easter Sunday in Greatest Story were amongst the best (surprisingly), just things like the way the light from the rising sun makes a cross. I have a feeling that without sound Greatest Story ranks a lot higher!

Matt

Matt

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SDG   

Matt and Peter,

Mike's link works fine, once you delete the extraneous period at the end of the ".com." His website is www.flickerings.com, and the Jesus films article is posted here.

I just fixed the link in his original post too, so that works now as well.

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MattPage   

...now that the bulk of the reactions are out there, there may be further modification.  Any factual errors I would especially appreciate notice of, since this was a lot of material and I can never be sure I've gotten the \"ts\" crossed and \"i's\" dotted.
Hi Mike,

Am I right in thinking that you'd like feedback on anything we find that might not be correct? If so I've put a few comments below. If not...um...I've put a few comments below...so...um...ignore them!

This is a great resource - best I've seen on the web. I had the idea to do something like this a few years ago, but never found the time. It made me think how did you ever find the time? What's your job? Did you do this as part of it? Or are you just an incredibly gifted writer who can get stuff down at the drop of a hat?

Either way I enjoyed the 1-2 hours I spent reading it (!) - (Put like that I could have watched another Jesus film in the time). Some great insights.

If the comments below are unhelpful let me know and I'll delete 'em.

Matt

PS - I tried to find your intro & found there wasn't one. I don't have one either, but that's largely because I'm too boring to bother about, but as I've discussed these films over the last few weeks with you I feel I've got to know you but am lacking on some of the basics. Love to know a bit more if you had chance to add an introductions post or send a PM.

============================================

: Intro - Edison Studios captured snippets of the original Passion Play in Oberammergau, Germany in 1898

The Oberammergau thing was a con - filmed on a rooftop in New York (IIRC), plus Passion plays have been going on for centuries. Oberammergau is just one (albeit famous) example.

: Intolerance - on the eve of a War to End All Wars

Maybe this is a UK thing, but WW1 actually had been in pogress for 2 years by the time Intolerance was made!

: Andronocles - Yet here are Victor Mature and Jean Simmons, King (or at least Prince) and Queen of Biblical Epics

Never read anything about this film in a Jesus film context save maybe the odd line in Babington & Evans's book Biblical Epics. Incidentally they devote their final chapter to Mature as the definitve Biblical Epics actor, giving him a clear nod over Heston (tho I can't remember why (I'll check if you want). FWIW they coined the phrase "Roman-Biblical" Epic to categorise the Christ vs Caesar genre, and this term has generally been the one used subsequently.

: The Robe went on to spawn two film sequels.

I think you have the upper hand on me on this one. What was the second sequel called? (or was it Andronocles?) Have you seen it?

: John Wayne as the Centurion intones a most infamous reading of the

: line "Surely this man was the Son of God."

Not factually related but reminds me of the story of them filming this scene where Wayne keeps saying the line without the sufficient gravitas

"Gee, surely he was the son of God".

Eventually Stevens goes up to him and says,

"Say it with awe John, say it with awe"

The next take comes and Stevens holds his breath. Finally comes Wayne's line

..."Aww surely he was the Son of God..."

(I'm fairly certain that's not true, but I felt it was about time it was shared.

: Godspell -

I was surprised you didn't cover this. But then it is terrible, even if it is interesting. If you ever get the chance to see "Son of Man" or Rosellini's "The Messiah" take it. Both ignored classics in my book.

: Life of Brian -

: As a juvenile, my reaction to Monty Python and the Holy Grail was falling

: off the theater seat laughing until I hyperventilated. Perhaps if I'd seen

: Brian as a juvenile, I'd have laughed just as hard.

This is probably just me being stupid, but I'm not sure I get what you mean here. Is there a word missing?

: Life of Brian -

: calls into question any higher aim of their idol-smashing other than

: sheer delight in breaking things. Pointing out human absurdities always

: loses something if absolutely everything is absurd.

This was the best lin I thought. It just encapsulates what I've felt about the film for so long, but have not been able to explain. Fantastic line.

: Jesus of Montreal - Apocalyptic

Um moving on from factual stuff, but I was surprised that you didn't mentionthe apocalyptic angle in this film. Not only is it the only film to include the Apocalyptic discourse (except the full version of Luke and Matthew's gospels), but the issues raised by Arcand's films either side (which I've only read about not seen) lead me to think that this is one of the key points of the film. Certainly having studied Mark 13 (which is the passage the film uses more than the other two here) recently I now see it as almost entirely about the fall of Jerusalem, and if you look at this film and the two either side as if Arcand agrees then it makes a lot of sense, particularly given the parallels he is drawing between Rome & Western Civilisation.

The Decline of the American Empire: The catastrophic fall of western society: the Barbarian invasion

Feel free to ignore that tho. I'm thikning about this a lot as my Eschatology course is nearing its end and the Barbarian Invasions is nearing its (UK) release.

: Jesus: Devil is a Frenchman

I think he's actually Dutch. Certainly the actor who plays him is, and thats how the accent sounds to me at any rate.

: John - he was half-hidden behind a plant, the director suggests

There are only 3 other films with this scene (King of Kings, Miracle Maker & Jesus 1999). Jesus uses the whole hidden behind a plant thing too.

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MattPage wrote:

: This is a great resource - best I've seen on the web. I had the idea to do

: something like this a few years ago, but never found the time. It made

: me think how did you ever find the time?

Heck, I'm wondering how I'll find time to READ it, it looks like that good a resource! smile.gif

: : Intro - Edison Studios captured snippets of the original Passion Play in

: : Oberammergau, Germany in 1898

:

: The Oberammergau thing was a con - filmed on a rooftop in New York

: (IIRC), plus Passion plays have been going on for centuries.

Hmmm, I'm guessing you didn't read my B&C cover story on Jesus movies, mike_h, cuz I think I mention this in there. smile.gif

: : Intolerance - on the eve of a War to End All Wars

:

: Maybe this is a UK thing, but WW1 actually had been in pogress for 2

: years by the time Intolerance was made!

Yeah, in fact, as we see in Legends of the Fall, back in those days, Americans apparently came to Canada so that they could volunteer for the war -- unlike all those Americans who came to Canada in the '60s and '70s to avoid getting drafted into the Vietnam War!

FWIW, though, there WAS a film in 1916 that reflected the American debate over the First World War -- that film was Thomas Ince's Civilization, which came out at a time when Woodrow Wilson won re-election partly on the basis that he kept America out of the war, and which reportedly put Jesus on the side of the pacifists ... but then, after Wilson threw America into the war in 1917, Civilization was reportedly re-edited to make Jesus more pro-war!

: Incidentally they devote their final chapter to Mature as the definitve

: Biblical Epics actor, giving him a clear nod over Heston (tho I can't

: remember why (I'll check if you want).

I know I'M definitely curious. Mature did The Robe and its sequel, plus he played Samson -- what else? Whereas Heston has Moses, John the Baptist and Judah Ben-Hur under his belt. Three films each, but Heston played three actual CHARACTERS to Mature's two.

: : The Robe went on to spawn two film sequels.

:

: I think you have the upper hand on me on this one. What was the second

: sequel called? (or was it Andronocles?) Have you seen it?

I'm only aware of the one, Demetrius and the Gladiators.

: : Godspell -

:

: I was surprised you didn't cover this. But then it is terrible, even if it is

: interesting. If you ever get the chance to see "Son of Man" or Rosellini's

: "The Messiah" take it. Both ignored classics in my book.

Son of Man was a really obscure teleplay (not really a film) that I don't think has ever been made officially available on video, so I'm not too disappointed that it got overlooked, but no coverage of Godspell or Rossellini's film? Those ARE oversights, methinks!

: : Jesus: Devil is a Frenchman

:

: I think he's actually Dutch. Certainly the actor who plays him is, and

: thats how the accent sounds to me at any rate.

Yes, that sounded like Jeroen Krabb

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mike_h   

SDG: I gathered there were various edits with the multiple releases for From the Manger to the Cross. Your mention of how the titles were added to the American release was news, and I would definately have felt differently about this film if I had seen it without those blasted intertitles. The tableaus are beautiful to look at and I just wanted to look at them without the title man shouting (so to speak) in my ear. And, yeah, Heston's forced-baptism in Greatest Story is a priceless moment of a transcendent kind of weird. (Somehow as I think about it right now, I get this image of William Shatner in Incubus flashing through my head...) I knew we approach Last Temptation quite differently, so I'm glad you didn't go harder on me than you did on that. smile.gif

MATT: Where can I get info on that Edison Passion con you describe? Sounds facinating and much more in character for the era than going off on location I guess. Good point on "War to End All Wars": that may have been just the American call to arms in 1916, and I ammended the line. As I did the Frenchman to Dutchman. The third sequel to The Robe, or at least third film from a Lloyd C. Douglas novel with some of the same characters rather, was The Big Fisherman, which I haven't seen. Perhaps it's less a real sequel to The Robe than just another story with some of the same characters. I'll look into it further. I really did want to get to Godspell, Rosellini, Johnny Cash, Son of Man and maybe Hail Mary. But I ran out of time. Only got the idea to plunge into this project at Christmas vacation. I'm really kicking myself though for passing up the chance to see a very rare screening of the Kazantzakis story made into the film He Who Must Die which played in Chicago last November. I'll probably add the upcoming Judas to the list and maybe catch up on some of the others at a more relaxed pace. Good heads up on the apocalyptic angle on Arcand: I'll have to keep that in mind as I look into his other films and then maybe revisit Jesus of Montreal.

Thanks for tips and encouragement. And thanks be to the malleability of the web I will continue to tinker with this stuff, and maybe add a few more movies. As I said elsewhere, the project has had that "oh, no, I've gone and involved myself in a land war in Asia" feeling to it, and I felt I had to go online with what I had this week to be ready for Gibson's film next week. But there's clearly some more homework to do, and maybe you guys will be able to change my mind on some of my opinions, who knows. Most of what's there is strictly "shoot from the hip" after one viewing (and one viewing after another!) with a bit of factoids gathered from the web. I really must sit down with one or two of the books on the subject (not to mention Peter's article!) and flesh some of it out eventually. But I do appreciate the further engagement here.

(BTW, I do have a day job: I've just been able to consider most of this part of it! We're finalizing the schedule for the Flickerings venue at Cornerstone Festival, and we may end up putting one or two of these films on the schedule. So there is that connection. Stay tuned...)

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MattPage   

: MATT: Where can I get info on that Edison Passion con

: you describe? Sounds facinating and much more in character

: for the era than going off on location I guess.

OTTOMH Its in both Campbell & Pitts

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MattPage wrote:

: : Where can I get info on that Edison Passion con you describe? Sounds

: : facinating and much more in character for the era than going off on

: : location I guess.

:

: OTTOMH Its in both Campbell & Pitts' "Bible on Film" and Kinnard &

: Davis's "Divine Images".

Yeah, I know of this primarily through Kinnard & Davis, though I think Lloyd Baugh's Imaging the Divine gets into this too -- and I think he even argues that Kinnard & Davis might have gotten some of their production information confused, re: those early short films.

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SDG   

SDG: I gathered there were various edits with the multiple releases for From the Manger to the Cross.  Your mention of how the titles were added to the American release was news, and I would definately have felt differently about this film if I had seen it without those blasted intertitles.  The tableaus are beautiful to look at and I just wanted to look at them without the title man shouting (so to speak) in my ear.

I'm getting really confused which film is under discussion. From the Manger to the Cross is the name of a 1912 American production, misidentified I think in your article as dating to 1905, with lots and lots of KJV title cards, location shooting, more naturalistic acting, etc. I am not aware of multiple release versions for this film, and since it was made in the US nothing was added "for" the American release.

The film that was released in 1905, subject to multiple releases, and not made in America was the Pathe Passion, which you have identified, not incorrectly, by the year of initial release, 1902. It has introductory title cards such as "The Annunciation" which may have been added for the American release, although whoever mentioned it wasn't me, because I didn't know it either.

I don't know if any of this is any help, although if you change the year of release for From the Manger to the Cross from 1905 to 1912, I think that will be a good thing.

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SDG wrote:

: From the Manger to the Cross is the name of a 1912 American

: production, misidentified I think in your article as dating to 1905, with

: lots and lots of KJV title cards, location shooting, more naturalistic acting,

: etc. I am not aware of multiple release versions for this film . . .

Actually, according to page 22 of Kinnard & Davis's book:

The most successful film produced by Kalem, it was kept in circulation for years, and a quarter of a century later, after Kalem had ceased to exist as a production entity, it was reissued (in 1937) with a synchronized music and sound effects track, together with newly-filmed close-ups, which were edited into the orgiinal footage.

Apparently the actor, Henderson-Bland, also wrote two books about playing Jesus, one published in 1922 and another published in 1939, so I'm sure he would have been available for the re-shoots, if anybody had asked him.

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MattPage   

You're right about Kinnard & Davis Peter, Looking att the evidence a while back I seemed to think it was they rather than Campbell & Pitts that had got it wrong.

As for the Mature / Heston thing. I had a brief look at Babbington last night and the reasoning was to do with the main theme of biblical Epics, the battle between the spirit and the flesh. For them Heston is just too aware, or too chaste in his roles, whereas in Mature embodies this battle both being beaten by it and overcoming it at times too. I think he argues that Steve Reeves is too sexual with no spiritual side, Heston is too spiritual, whereas Victor is in the middle.

Make of that what you will!

Matt

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mike_h   

I'm getting really confused which film is under discussion. From the Manger to the Cross is the name of a 1912 American production, misidentified I think in your article as dating to 1905...

Sorry for the confusion, thanks for the correction, I have ammended accordingly.

Incidently, I ran across this article at the British Film Institute on Edward S. Porter, according to which, "Porter's programme The Passion Play of Oberammergau, for instance, integrated magic-lantern slides and some 23 short films into a coherent show that lasted 40 minutes or longer, accompanied by a lecture and music sung by a choir. " The article goes on to say Porter hooked on with Edison in 1900, and speaks of that rooftop studio somebody else mentioned.

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Hope no one minds if I bring this thread back to its original topic. smile.gif

Over on the other thread devoted to the portrayal of Jews in life-of-Jesus films, I just posted the following excerpts from W. Barnes Tatum's Jesus at the Movies, which includes this fascinating section on the changes Campus Crusade's supposedly word-for-word adaptation of Luke made to minimize the possibility that the film might be perceived as anti-Semitic:

Jesus
the film avoids the implication that
all
Jews -- past or present -- bear the responsibility for Jesus' crucifixion. This avoidance expresses itself in at least four ways.

The first way has to do with the film's adaptation of the "passion predictions" (9:22; 17:25; 18:31-33). The initial "prediction" by Jesus given in conjunction with Peter's confession has been edited in the film to exclude any reference to the Jewish leaders -- the elders, priests, and scribes. The second "prediction" that refers to neither Jewish leaders nor to gentiles has been simply retained in the film. The third "prediction" that refers to the gentiles and omits any reference to the Jewish authorities has been included in the film word-for-word and relocated so that Jesus speaks the words in the house of Zaccheus just prior to his final departure for Jerusalem.

The second way the film avoids the implication that all Jews bear responsibility for the crucifixion involves the creation of a scene that has no basis in the gospel text. After Jesus' entry into Jerusalem and his actions in the temple, Pontius Pilate, Caiaphas, and Annas are seated at a table. The dialogue goes something like this:
Pilate
: I understand that many have already hailed him as king.

Caiaphas
: A king
(he chuckles)
... a king of beggars, whores, and thieves. We've seen his like before. They come. They make their claims. They go. They are forgotten.

Annas
: Don't be blind. His following is growing by the day. The people admire him...

Pilate
: ...and think he is a king
(he rises)
. Let me give you a warning. If this man should threaten the peace further, I shall look to you.

Caiaphas
: Perhaps he's right. It's time we confronted the Galilean.

The third way the film avoids the implication that all Jews bear responsibility for the crucifixion involves commentary by the narrator that has no basis in the gospel text. As the scene shifts away from the meeting among Caiaphas, Pilate, and Annas, Jesus reenters the temple. The voice of the narrator declares: "And as the hypocritical section of the scribes and Pharisees came increasingly under his attack, so his following among the Jews grew ... and so did the opposition of those he condemned."

Later, after the council of elders has conspired to put Jesus to death, and as they deliver him over to Roman authority, the narrator again says: "And they took him before Pontius Pilate, the most vicious of all Roman procurators, alone responsible for the crucifixion of thousands."

Still a fourth way the film avoids the implication that all Jews are responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus is by its characterization of Caiaphas, Annas, and Pilate near the end. Caiaphas and Annas involve themselves directly in all the events of Jesus' last hours. They are present in Gethsemane at Jesus' arrest; and they accompany Jesus as he makes the rounds from Pilate, to Herod, and back to Pilate. They even suggest to Pilate that he release Barabbas and do away with Jesus. Pilate releases Barabbas but does not verbally sentence Jesus. In an intriguing camera shot from the courtyard below, where Jesus stands, Pilate tosses toward Jesus and the soldiers a small scroll, presumably containing in writing the order of execution -- a scroll filmed in slow motion as it falls toward the viewer.

Therefore, by contrast to the gospel of Luke, the film gives Pontius Pilate a more active role in the final conspiracy against Jesus and describes him as one fully capable of passing the sentence of crucifixion. The film also places oversight for the conspiracy against Jesus squarely upon Caiaphas and Annas. According to the film, Jesus' death cannot be construed as an indictment of an entire people.Interesting, no?

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MattPage   

Yeah,

I watched bits of this yesterday and noticed a few more additions to the text of Luke, which furthers what I was saying a page or two back about the way the 2hr film version varies from the literal rendering that the 4 hour version takes.

In some ways this is not surprising. I mean of all the films about the life of Jesus this is the most Jewish. No major film has yet been made with a Jewish actor playing Jesus (alas Dreyer), but apart from Brian Deacon nearly all of the actors are Yemmenite Jews - so its perhaps not surpring to find sensitivity to the anti-semitism issue in a film that pays such attention to the Jewish angle.

Matt

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Question. Given the rumours regarding revisions to this film, I must ask, does anyone know if this 2-disc '25th anniversary deluxe commemorative edition' has the original 1979 version of the film or the shorter, more recent, revised version? I ask because it seems the original DVD is out of print now, and I don't own this film in ANY format (though I do own the Genesis Project's four-tape VHS set of Luke), and I am wondering if I should consider getting it.

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I only know this film to have been 120 minutes -- so I'm not sure about revisions. This version is apparently still available at the US Amazon site.

The recent version was a Brentwood release, while the "new" 2-disc package is from Madacy. The total length is 187 minutes, including 67 minutes for The Story of Jesus for Children.

Distributed by Madacy Christian Music Group

1707 Division Street, Suite 103, Nashville TN 37203

Tel.: (615) 252-4124 Fax: (615) 252-4130, e-mail: madacy@madacy.com

Sorry, I know that's not much help.

Edited by Tim Willson

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MattPage   

I have an 80 minute version, an 120 min version and the 4 hour Luke version. Plus a version in Gudjerati. But no DVD. YOu can download it for free from the web tho' (but I guess you knew that)

Matt

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Thanks, Tim -- if 187 minutes minus 67 minutes for the kids' video means this is the same 120-minute version of the film that came out in 1979, then I just might get this disc. Might.

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I recently posted some comments on the original 1979 film in the 'jesus point-of-view' thread; now I'm just adding a couple comments here about The Story of Jesus for Children, which I just finished watching for the first time.

I have to say I'm glad I had only the original film to watch when I was a lad. The new elements in the children's film are not especially well made -- so-so writing, bad acting -- and it seems to me that sometimes children can sense if a film is talking down to them, which this one definitely does. In addition, if having a narrator puts the Jesus of the original film at something of a distance from the viewer, throwing in extra scenes of children getting into fights etc. just distances us that much more from the ostensible subject of the film. In fairness, though, inserting all those shots of children at the feeding of the 5,000, at the crucifixion, etc. does perhaps give younger audience members someone to identify with, someone through whose eyes they can witness the events of the film.

Seeing this film so soon after the original was strange -- it's weird to think that most of the film was made (and seen) years before the children in the new scenes were even born. I began to wonder if the makers of this film might go all Lucas on us, and go beyond cutting new shots into the scenes, and go so far as to digitally add elements within the frame. It also seems to me that most of the characters in the original film have vaguely British accents, while the characters in the new footage tend to sound American, but perhaps the difference isn't as striking to other people as it is to me.

It's also interesting to see how they try to keep the children involved in the Jesus story even after Jesus is taken down from the cross -- the scenes of women going to the tomb, etc., don't really allow for new shots of children, etc. What they do is, they have the children remind each other that Jesus predicted he would come back from the dead, and this makes them smile -- but it also makes them look more 'faithful' than the adults, all of whom seem genuinely surprised when the tomb turns out to be empty.

I see that, according to the IMDB, the narration in the original 1979 film was provided by Richard Kiley -- which is interesting, since he also played Matthew, the narrator, in the Visual Bible's first film. He just might be the only actor who was involved in BOTH major word-for-word film projects.

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