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Magdalena: Released from Shame


M. Leary
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I just caught this recent Jesus film that I believe was funded by or is related in some part to the Jesus Film resources. It attempts to tell the Jesus story from the perspective of women involved in Jesus' ministry, narrated after the fact by Mary Magdalene. To do this it starts all the way back at Eve, runs through high points in the OT, and then four or five pericopes that have Jesus healing or ministering to women. Even though its selectivity is different than other evangelistic Jesus films, it is fairly typical in its presentation of a canonical Jesus.

I really like the idea of Mary Magdalene narrating the story of Jesus, as she has pride of place in the Johannine resurrection narratives (and her appearance in the Gospel of Mary is very intriguing in this respect). And church tradition poses her as an interesting witness, both in portraying her pre-exorcism life as perhaps worse than it actually was and then highlighting her penitance and closeness to Jesus. In the west at least she becomes highly idealized in this way. There is a nod towards the end about how Jesus legitimized women, and frequent refrains that Jesus was interested in restoring the "honor" of women. But it is nowhere near contemporary feminist readings of the gospel in its use of Mary Mag. as a key figure in the gospels.

Off-hand, I can't remember which other Jesus films dwell so much on Jesus restoring people's "honor." I suppose the writers of the script thought this was the best way to signify Jesus' effect on women.

Oh, and the film was directly released to the internet.

Edited by MLeary

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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MLeary wrote:

: Oh, and the film was directly released to the internet.

You say this, and you don't provide a LINK!?

"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.

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So am I in a minority that has seen it on DVD?

Bizarrely I caught it whilst on holiday in Morocco. We were staying at a friend's house who had been given it at a conference where they were giving them away to anyone for free. Which was strange cos I've not been able to get hold of a DVD / review copy. Initial emails were replied to and then nothing.

Anyway here is my review, and there are various other posts on this by me here.

Somewhere inside me is a piece about how this compares to the later gospels, taking an established (and authoritative?) evangelistic text, and adding fresh material that addresses the concerns of the target audience more directly.

But I never got that review copy. This might prompt me to try again.

Matt

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MLeary wrote:

: Here.

Wow. I thought only Google Video allowed full-length films; YouTube used to have a 10-minute limit, no? At any rate, I have no idea when I'll have time to watch this, but for now, we might as well embed it here:

"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.

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Somewhere inside me is a piece about how this compares to the later gospels, taking an established (and authoritative?) evangelistic text, and adding fresh material that addresses the concerns of the target audience more directly.

There is a lot to that Matt. Especially since with the case of this film you have a direct comparison to the Gospel of Mary, which essentially is "fresh" gospel material that re-narrates Jesus from Mary's perspective. It is interesting to note the way that one shot does not reverse when we would expect it to, because it would draw undue attention to its actual source material. That is pretty much entry-level source criticism, the redaction here being this odd "restoration of honor" theme that the film harps on so much. There are a lot of seams in the film like this, around the original Jesus film material.

Is this the first actual synopticizing of the Jesus film? It would seem so. (Seem...seam...get it? a little biblical criticism pun there.) It adapts original source material to enable the narrative development of a different nuance. If we had a third film produced the same way we could start developing theories of dependence and everything.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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MLeary wrote:

: Is this the first actual synopticizing of the Jesus film? It would seem so. . . . It adapts original source material to enable the narrative development of a different nuance. If we had a third film produced the same way we could start developing theories of dependence and everything.

Assuming I understand what you're saying here, I think this is at least the second "synopticizing" of the Jesus film. The 25th-anniversary DVD edition of the Jesus film came with a bonus film called The Story of Jesus for Children, which mixed footage from the 1979 film with footage shot in 2000, featuring children who have a storyline of their own but are also "there" in the crowds when Brian Deacon speaks, etc. I haven't watched Magdalena yet, but I'm guessing it's basically The Story of Jesus for Women.

Oh, and while we're at it: Link to the thread on the Jesus film. And, come to think of it, link to the specific post in which I blurb the Children film.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"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.

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Assuming I understand what you're saying here, I think this is at least the second "synopticizing" of the Jesus film. The 25th-anniversary DVD edition of the Jesus film came with a bonus film called The Story of Jesus for Children, which mixed footage from the 1979 film with footage shot in 2000, featuring children who have a storyline of their own but are also "there" in the crowds when Brian Deacon speaks, etc.

Brilliant! So we already have two redacted documents from which to establish dependence theories.

This is all tounge-in-cheek of course, but I find it fascinating that the development of the Jesus film would unwittingly mimic what some see as the development of the gospels themselves.

Edited by MLeary

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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Yeah, but I need to track down The Story of Jesus for Children somehow.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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