Saturday, April 1, 2017

Jesus: the movie

One thing I sometimes do as Easter approaches is watch a Jesus movie to get into the mood. There are many to choose from, of course, but my favorite one is the 1999 miniseries Jesus, which stars Jeremy Ssito (Six Feet Under, Law & Order), Debra Messing, and Gary Oldman.

You can read reviews of the film: Devout, Wise and Loves To Dance at Weddings ... and ... Jesus — The Mini-Series

This movie is pretty unusual in a number of ways. For one thing, it's the only Jesus film I'm aware of that shows Joseph as part of Jesus' adult life .....

And it shows Jesus and his father doing carpentry ....

Another unusual bit is that the movie shows Jesus as being in love with Mary of Bethany. After Joseph dies, Jesus tells her he has to leave romance behind to give everything to his mission, but one can see he's pretty devastated about this decision. Also unique is a sort of oblique reference to the Infancy Gospel of Thomas in which the boy Jesus brings birds to life. And when Jesus goes into the desert and is tempted by the devil, he's a very strange devil ...

This Jesus laughs, tells jokes, dances, and he's good friends with his mom ...

One disappointing thing in the movie was that it portrayed Mary M as a prostitute, something that's been shown to be false. But still the movie does try with this relationship ... when Mary and Jesus are talking, she aays that if she were only a man, she would be his most loyal disciple, and he replies, "Those who speak for me are my disciples."

One of my favortie parts of the movie is when Jesus meets the Canaanite woman. It shows him changing his mind and when the disciples kvetch, he tells them, "I saw a girl dying. Would you rather I let her die? This woman has taught me that my message is for the Gentiles as well. If I can learn, so can you".

There's so much more that makes this movie special: maybe these video clips will illustrate.

- Jesus healing ...

- Jesus with the adulterous woman ...

- Mary M and the resurrected Jesus ...

20 comments:

  1. I haven't seen this one yet. My favorite one remains the Zeferelli one (not sure I spelled that right). I am a sucker for the classics, "The Robe", and the " Ten Commandments " (Jean mentioned that was going to be on). I don't like "Passion of the Christ". Because I don't like Mel Gibson, and besides it's a violence porn snuff film. I wouldn't say that to very many people, though. Some people think it's a sacramental.

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  2. I like the Zeffirelli movie too. The Passion of the Christ seems to dwell too much on the gory stuff but it did have some nice flashback parts of Jesus with his mother and other earlier events. But, yeah, it's just too grim for me.

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  3. I think that these dramatic iterations of Scripture are fascinating. Bombastic and pretentious as they are, it is testimony to the power of the story.

    I love the end of "The Robe" when John Wayne as the centurion says, "Truly this man was. The sunna God."

    And there's Victor Mature in Samson. So much beef in that show, I start feeling like I need some ketchup in the side.

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  4. I remember The Robe :) Also one of my favorites was Ben-Hur. One that was really strange was The Last Temptation of Christ. There was a great part in that where Jesus and the disciples are heading into Jerusalem and Peter asks Jesus if they will be met by angels - Jesus just smiles ... link

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  5. Ben Hur, that brings back a memory. When I was a grade schooler, the Knights of Columbus used to sponsor a movie once a year for the school kids. One year it was Ben Hur. My folks had seen it, and Mom said no way was she going to let a kid see something that violent, so she pulled us out of school that day. What would she have thought of some of the ones nowadays!

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  6. Dino deLaurentiis did a movie version of the Lagerkvist novel, Barabbas, in 1961. I have never watched it because I was afraid it would be too different from the book and wreck it. In my late teens, after my beloved English teacher died, I power-read through the Scandinavians one summer: Ibsen, Hamsun, Lagerkvist, Lagerlof, Laxness, and Undset, while sitting on my grandparents' dock on the Houghton Lake. I think it was my way of connecting with Mrs. Roberts and honoring her memory. A novelistic novena, if you will. Sometimes I think that summer completely rewired my brain. My grandmother was quite worried.

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  7. I liked Ben--Hur because I had read the book but also because Charlton Heston was in it - when I was a kid he was my hero for being in all those classic science fiction movies like Planet of the Apes and Soylent Green.

    My sister and I spent the summers as kids living with my grandparents. That was the best part of my childhood :)

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  8. 1.Although I am a music lover, I am not a TV or Movie fan. However I think there is great potential for an historical novel/film that covers the years before Jesus begin his public ministry.

    Jesus probably went up to Jerusalem for the festivals many times during his life time (John says he did so during his public ministry.) I would set the opening scene with Simeon and Anna after his birth, then cut to the scene of him in the temple with the teachers as an adolescent.

    I would put most action during the journeys back and forth from the temple and have Jesus meet Peter Mary Magdalene and others coming in from other villages.

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  9. 2 Mark portrays Jesus as having conflicts with all the leading groups (priests, Sadducees, scribes, Pharisees) right before his death. I would have him becoming increasing disillusioned with the temple with each visit. I would have him initially attracted to the Pharisees who were the reformers, but then becoming disillusioned with their rigidity.

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  10. 3. John the Baptist is an important figure in Jesus life . Luke says he lived most of this life in the desert. We also know the Essenes were out there. I would have Jesus thinking about going out to the desert to join either John the Baptist or the Essenes as a protest against what he experiences in Jerusalem.

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  11. 4. Women were important in the life of Jesus, his is a very atypical figure for how much we know about the women he encountered in his ministry. I would have these temple trips be an important mechanism for unmarried men to meet unmarried women. I would have Jesus discussing with your young friends (e.g. Peter, Mary Magdela) what is going on in the temple, the Pharisees as an option, and what is going on out in the desert as an alternative society. The dynamic would be that just as Jesus is becoming more involved with Mary , he is also becoming more concerned about temple Judaism and more attracted to the desert.

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  12. 5. Finally John the Baptist announces his ministry of baptism in the Jordan and all Jerusalem is abuzz, and Jesus has to decide whether to go out in the desert with John. He has a miraculous baptism but then Jesus disappears in the desert. Everybody wonders what is going on. He encounters Satan who make clear the consequences of the option that Jesus is considering, the hopeful Galilee ministry option that might avoid inevitable conflict with Jerusalem

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  13. 6. The story ends with the beginning of Mark. Jesus arrives back in Galilee. His friends all know that the Galilee option is on, there are flashes of Jesus beginning to preach, heal etc. His friends are all thinking yes it is going to succeed but Jesus alone gazes ahead to Jerusalem and the inevitable.

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  14. I guess this is a kind of Prequel to the Gospel

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  15. Jack, If you were to do that in modern dress, I think perhaps you would be describing the making of a None.

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    1. Tom, like all the historical Jesus people, I am just projecting my sociological opinions back into the first century.

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  16. Jesus, the first None :)

    Jack's idea is interesting because there's not much about Jesus that we know of before he went public. And maybe there would be a tension between those who see Jesus as mostly God, someone who always knew exactly where he was going theologically ... and those who see him as more human, someone whose views could have been formed by experience.

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  17. Made too many clerical errors in the last comment. I always see what I intended to write never what I actually wrote.

    It is very difficult to portray historical and sociological background from the text of the Gospels. Better to talk it out in conversation among Jesus and his peers.

    The Pharisees are the ancestors of modern Rabbinic Judaism because they were already developing a model of Judaism that emphasized daily life as much as Temple worship. Jesus would have appreciated that.

    Mark the earliest gospel was not as critical of the Pharisees as later Gospels, when the descendants of the Pharisees became more powerful and more in conflict with the followers of Jesus after the destruction of the Temple.

    Yes this was written for the Nones. But it was also written for Jews. They recently criticized Francis because in his daily homilies he does not give a nuanced view of the Pharisees. He uses it as a convenient label for things he dislikes much like he uses Gnostic.

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