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MattPage

Who is your Favourite Film Jesus

Who is your favourite film Jesus?   67 members have voted

  1. 1. Who is your favourite film Jesus?

    • M. Norman (The Life and Passion of Jesus Christ, 1905)
      0
    • Robert Henderson-Bland (From the Manger to the Cross, 1912)
      0
    • Howard Gaye (Intolerance, 1916)
      1
    • H. B. Warner (The King of Kings, 1927)
      0
    • Robert Le Vignan (Golgotha, 1935)
      0
    • Robert Wilson (I Beheld His Glory, 1952; Day of Triumph, 1954)
      0
    • Jeffrey Hunter (King of Kings, 1961)
      1
    • Enrique Irazoqui (Il Vangelo Secondo di Matteo, 1964)
      5
    • Max Von Sydow (The Greatest Story Ever Told, 1965)
      2
    • Woody Strode (Black Jesus, 1968)
      0
    • Colin Blakeny (Son of Man, 1969)
      1
    • Donald Sutherland (Johnny Got His Gun, 1971)
      0
    • Victor Garber (Godspell, 1973)
      1
    • Robert Elfstrom (The Gospel Road, 1973)
      0
    • Ted Neely (Jesus Christ, Superstar, 1973)
      1
    • Pier Maria Rossi (Il Messia, 1975)
      0
    • Zalman King (The Passover Plot, 1976)
      0
    • Robert Powell (Jesus of Nazareth, 1977)
      6
    • Brian Deacon (Jesus, 1979)
      0
    • Chris Sarandon (The Day Christ Died, 1980)
      0
    • John Rubinstein (In Search of Historic Jesus, 1980)
      0
    • John Hurt (History of the World, Part I, 1981)
      0
    • Malachi Jara Kohan (Hail, Mary, 1985)
      0
    • Willem Dafoe (The Last Temptation of Christ, 1988)
      4
    • Jurgen Prochnow (The Seventh Sign, 1988)
      0
    • Lothaire Bluteau / Daniel Coloumbe (Jesus of Montreal, 1989)
      4
    • Mark Deakins (Lamb of God, 1993)
      0
    • Bruce Marchiano (Visual Bible: Matthew (1996) & Acts)
      0
    • Jeremy Sisto (Jesus, 1999)
      3
    • Plasticine / Ralph Fiennes (The Miracle Maker, 1999)
      5
    • Christian Bale (Mary the Mother of Jesus, 1999)
      1
    • Martin Donovan (Book of Life, 1999)
      1
    • John Kay Steel (The Revolutionary, 1999)
      0
    • Stephen Billington (Inquisition, 2002)
      0
    • Henry Ian Cusick (The Gospel of John, 2003)
      6
    • Jim Cavaziel (The Passion of the Christ, 2004)
      26

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60 posts in this topic

Good question, but that it so hard to say. It seems easy to say that "this particular Jesus" is intentionally ahistorical, but much harder to claim that "this other particular Jesus" is the real deal.

If there had been more dialogue in TPoTC, then Caviezel may have been a good frontrunner. Marchiano was good. But I guess I would want to establish criteria first in terms of authenticity. They would probably be something like:

1. A good approximation of the historical Jesus' racial features

2. A good portrayal of his personality

3. Accurately scripted dialogue and action

4. An obvious understanding of the psychology and motivations that were part and parcel of being both a 1st century Palestinian Jew and the Son of God.

Some of these things don't even seem to be qualities we can adequately judge from history, simply not enough information. Most Jesus portrayals have Him angry when we tend to read Him as angry and tender and serene when we read Him that way. He is often this melodramatic rollercoaster of emotion, just the impression that we get from only being able to read about Him in series of pericopes that fluctuate in mood very quickly.

Just from recent Jesus scholarship though, there seem to be two ways to get at what His actual personal presence was apart from what is embedded in the narrative of the Gospels.

- Sanders great book on the Historical Jesus takes you through every religious and cultural trajectory that could have informed Jesus' personal life. Whether we see him as a peasant poet or a misunderstood apocalyptic prophet has an effect on how we judge the accuracy of his portrayals. For someone inclined toward the peasant poet idea, then Caviezel or whoever played Pasolini's Jesus would be more accurate representations of what Jesus was really like. For someone inclined toward the apocalyptic Jesus, then Dafoe or von Sydow would probably fit much better in terms of personality. The moral of this story is that there are a variety of historical-religious roles that scholars ascribe to Jesus, and each one of these roles ascribes a much different personality to Him. (Unfortunately, I try to ride a balance between the poet and prophet motifs, which makes it hard for me to decide what His personality was like.)

- At the end of Wright's Jesus and the Victory of God is an attempt to broach the subject of Jesus' self perception. There were some books written on this at the end of the 19th century, but scholars stopped talking about it for fear of ending up in heresy (Wright deals with it deftly enough to stop just shy of heresy). Did Jesus know He was God? When and to what extent did He know this? How did He feel about this? All these questions would go into making up the "character" of Jesus. I guess if a method actor were to do Jesus, then they would have to know these issues and work through them to get at Jesus' motivations and the like. Wright ends up making some interesting comments that Jesus knowledge that He was God was the same sort of knowledge you have when you are loved by someone. It is a sort of knowledge, but a much different form of knowledge than 2+2=4. Considerations like these make it seem that playing Jesus as a method actor would be a very complicated job.

Sorry for the long post, just trying to tease out some way to answer that great question.

Edited by (M)Leary

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Is there one you think does come close to the Historical Jesus? Or do you mean the Jesus as portrayed in the Gospels?

(And not to toss more fat in the fire, but I personally would not want to try to make much of a distinction here. The Historical Jesus is the one that we meet in the Gospels, it is just that the Gospels give us an incomplete picture of Him. Any detail that we could uncover outside of the narratives will only serve to round out what we know of Him canonically.)

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Great post(s), (M)Leary! I think I shall have to give Wright another read in the near future.

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I don't know if anybody's ever posted this link on the board or not, but for the sake of completeness, I think these "Jesus videos" from vintage21.com need to be included in this discussion. (Scroll down to bottom of page. There's four.) monalisa.gif

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Great link Mike - I'll have to find a computer that canplay them so I can fully enjoy them!

Matt

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FWIW -now that I've seen the clips I think the images are Robert Wilson from I beheld his glory which I've not actually seen - although Robert Wilson is the only person to appear in two Jesus films as Jesus, and I have seen the other Day of Triumph which I believe was by the same people.

Actually that's true of the second & fourth ones - I'm not so sure about the others.

Matt

Edited by MattPage

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Not sure where to post this exactly, but do you Jesus Movie Boys know about the French film HE WHO MUST DIE (1956)? In case not, here's what was in an article by Nancy Mockros in the July 2004 Covenant Companion;

"The French film HE WHO MUST DIE (1956), which was also shown in the U.S., was about a passion play cast in a small Greek town. The Christ figure is a social revolutionary underdog who leads the starving outcast Turks to overcome his own oppressive Greek villagers. With interesting correspondences to the Pahreisees and Romans, HE WHO MUST DIE remains a forerunner of the "Jesus coming today" allegories featuring a passion play cast."

The bio blurb for Ms Mockros says that she "recently completed her Ph.D. from Fuller Theological Seminary, where her dissertation was on how Jesus is portrayed in film." In case you want to track that down.

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Ron wrote:

: Not sure where to post this exactly, but do you Jesus Movie Boys know about the

: French film HE WHO MUST DIE (1956)?

Yes, we discussed it intermittently in one of the Last Temptation threads, since both films were based on books by Nikos Kazantzakis.

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thanks for the heads up Ron,

Matt

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I don't know if anybody's ever posted this link on the board or not, but for the sake of completeness, I think these "Jesus videos" from vintage21.com need to be included in this discussion.  (Scroll down to bottom of page.  There's four.)

FWIW -now that I've seen the clips I think the images are Robert Wilson from I beheld his glory which I've not actually seen - although Robert Wilson is the only person to appear in two Jesus films as Jesus, and I have seen the other Day of Triumph which I believe was by the same people.

Actually that's true of the second & fourth ones - I'm not so sure about the others.

Matt

Not that I need to do anything to cement my Jesus film geek status, but the question of the identity of the actor/film of the 2nd and 4th clips in this link has bugged me for almost a year I guess. Mainly becuase I'm an obsessive completist, and I couldn't bear the fact that someone had a Jesus film I didn't even know about.

I'd also heard of a film called the Living Bible, which I'd not reallly been that interested in and assumed was a 70s tie in with the translation / paraphrase of the same name. Nevertheless, it came up on ebay the other day and I got it for

Edited by MattPage

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Fwiw I've been trying some information on "Cathedral Films" in general and theis "living Christ" series in particular.

If anyone is interested I've found this interview which relates to the casting of "Bob" Wilson in I Beheld His Glory

IMDB lists the production date for this series as 1951, but they also list the actor as Robert Wilson, but I can't say I'm convinced it is.

Actually looking a bit deeper it seems that there were two series made about the same time with similar names.

The Living Christ Series (which is the one I have) was made about 1951, and seems to star Robert Wilson, 12x30 minute episodes

The Living Bible Series (which is the one I have) was made about 1952, and seems to star Nelson Leigh, 24 or 26 episodes

There are a load of details on this page which includes a few pictures from a number of other films including FROM THE MANGER TO THE CROSS.

Matt

Edited by MattPage

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I voted for Caviezel, but I noticed that you didn't give Southpark Jesus his due.

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Also, what about Phil Hartman? He played a wonderful Jesus in an SNL skit, where he attempts to get this fervent housewife to stop praying to him for every menial thing.

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A good friend of mine likes to refer to Christian Bale as the "sexiest--Jesus--ever." Of course, you also then get to have the odd sensation of watching his performance of Jesus and following it up with American Psycho, which can just mess with you. Kind of like watching Shadowlands right after Silence of the Lambs...

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Well it could be argued that South Park Jesus is more a portrayal of "Jesus Christ - pop culture icon" than either the Jesus of the Bible or of History.

But in any case I left out cameos such as Ben Hur or The History of the World - part 1

And besides it would be too embarrassing if Hartman won...

Matt

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MattPage, I have seen clips of The Living Bible in other films, too, like The God Who Wasn't There -- the director told me it was possible to find this footage at archive.org, though I haven't found it yet, but I did find it for sale as a five-disc DVD set at Amazon.

Michael Todd wrote:

: Also, what about Phil Hartman? He played a wonderful Jesus in an SNL skit, where he

: attempts to get this fervent housewife to stop praying to him for every menial thing.

The fervent housewife was played by Sally Field, IIRC, right?

Don't forget the one where Jerry Seinfeld played Elijah, crashing a Jewish family's Passover seder -- at the end, one member of the family says, "You can't be Elijah! Because when Elijah comes, it means the Messiah is near!" Then the doorbell rings, Elijah goes to answer it, and there's Phil Hartman as Jesus -- and the two hug and slap each other's backs ("Hey, how ya doin'!").

I don't know which religion ought to be more offended by that one. smile.gif

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I'm rather fond of the Jesus in Bad Lieutenant, but he hasn't been included in this poll.

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Peter - thanks for the heads up. It will have to wait until Christmas.

Jeffrey - Ah I've not seen it - would I be right in thinking that it's more of a cameo though?

And is it a must see for me

(BTW Love the new avatar)

Matt

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FWIW I note that this thread has now been blogged both by Mark Goodacre's NT Gateway blog and Codex: Blogspot, with a few interesting comments on both. (Including my misspelling of Caviezel blushing.gif )

Welcome to anyone who has found this forum from either of those places.

Matt

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I wonder if this is kind of like - What music do you like best - and it is usually the music we heard when we hit puberty!

I loved Jesus Christ Superstar and was impacted by it as a student

Denny

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Don't forget the one where Jerry Seinfeld played Elijah, crashing a Jewish family's Passover seder -- at the end, one member of the family says, "You can't be Elijah!  Because when Elijah comes, it means the Messiah is near!"  Then the doorbell rings, Elijah goes to answer it, and there's Phil Hartman as Jesus -- and the two hug and slap each other's backs ("Hey, how ya doin'!").

Peter, I have not seen that skit, but it sounds hilarious.

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Yes, Jesus has a cameo in Bad Lieutenant... but it is a CRUCIAL cameo, and I remember him as vividly as anything in the film.

No, it's not a must-see. It's only for folks willing to brave portrayals of truly reprehensible behavior.

But it is, in my opinion, Harvey Keitel's finest performance.

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Thanks for the heads up

Matt

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I can't vote for any of them. I actually don't like seeing anyone on film portraying Jesus or for that matter, I don't even like films about Jesus.

Sorry. I'd rather just think of Jesus in my own head and heart. - and wonder what really happened.

Sara

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It is interesting that in BEN HUR we never actually see the face of Jesus. It has both effects - leaves Him to our imagination and/or makes Him seem not quite incarnated.

Denny

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