• Bible Films Blog

    Looking at film interpretations of the stories in the Bible - past, present and future, as well as current film releases with spiritual significance, and a few bits and pieces on the Bible.

    Tuesday, May 08, 2007

    The Miracle Maker and the Women at the Tomb

    Following the new special edition DVD release of The Miracle Maker, I've been revisiting that film, notably to listen to the director's commentary. However, I also recently watched the resurrection scenes at Easter with my daughter. She was only 10 months then, so I'm sure she got very little out of the experience, but I was intrigued to notice a detail in those scenes that has previously escaped me.

    I've noted before that this film contains as much post-resurrection footage as practically any film, and that it focusses its attention on the more voluminous accounts in Luke and John. Harmonising the various accounts of the resurrection is a tricky business. Different gospels record different people arriving at the scene and omit the accounts found in the others.

    Watching the resurrection scenes again at Easter I noticed three women who make fleeting appearances on the first Easter. We first encounter them as Mary rushes away from having met Jesus. The shot is so brief that I couldn't even to get a screen shot that wasn't blurred. Mary is rushing to get Peter and John to tell them of her discovery. The film diverts from John at this point, as in his gospel Mary rushes to get the disciples before she has seen the risen Jesus rather than after.

    Peter and John then rush to the tomb, with Mary following a way behind them. When Peter emerges we see this shot. Mary is now talking to the three women she passed earlier. However, it's unclear who these women are meant to be. Matthew's gospel records only two women going to the tomb - Mary Magdalene and "the other Mary": Mark records three - "Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome".

    Since we have already been shown Mary Magdalene going to the tomb alone, then these three women must represent a combination of the other three women recorded as witnessing the resurrection - "Mary the mother of James, the other Mary and Salome". Most scholars would, I imagine, equate "the other Mary" with "Mary the mother of James", so it's unusual that they show three figures here rather than just two. But it's interesting how the film-makers make this visual allusion to the other two resurrection accounts, without going into the details.

    This is probably because whilst the story is primarily seen through the eyes of Jairus's daughter Tamar, it also encourages the viewer to look at the story of Jesus, and, in particular, his resurrection, through the eyes of both Mary, and indeed Peter. Each of the three characters encounter the risen Jesus, and in each case we are shown the moment they see him and begin to realise what has happened through a point of view shot. To tell the story from the perspective of these women (in addition to that of Cleopas and Jairus) would, no doubt, be somewhat overbearing.

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    4 Comments:

    • At 4:11 am, May 09, 2007, Blogger Peter T Chattaway said…

      To tell the story from the perspective of these women (in addition to that of Cleopas and Jairus) would, no doubt, be somewhat overbearing.

      It might have been easier to follow both Cleopas and the women if the film had followed the tradition which says that Cleopas and "the other Mary" were husband and wife, in addition to being the uncle and aunt of Jesus (cf. John 19:25). I believe St. Jerome and others have used versions of this tradition to support the argument that "James the brother/kinsman of the Lord" was identical to the James who was the son of "the other Mary". Or maybe I'm getting my Jameses and Cleopases mixed up -- just like people keep getting their Marys mixed up!

       
    • At 6:01 pm, May 09, 2007, Blogger Matt Page said…

      It does get confusing who said what about which Mary / James. I was familiar with the view that Cleopas's companion was his wife, but not of the other stuff. Thanks for highlighting it.

      Are Cleopas and Mary meant to be related on Jesus's mother's side or on Joseph's side. And which one (Cleopas or Mary) was meant to be related to them (presumably not Mary and Mary being sisters!)

      Matt

       
    • At 4:51 pm, May 10, 2007, Blogger Peter T Chattaway said…

      Are Cleopas and Mary meant to be related on Jesus's mother's side or on Joseph's side. And which one (Cleopas or Mary) was meant to be related to them (presumably not Mary and Mary being sisters!)

      According to Hegesippus, an early church historian who is cited by Eusebius, Clopas was the brother of Joseph (and Clopas's son Simeon was the second bishop of Jerusalem, after James the Just). And believe it or not, there are traditions, based on this passage in John, to the effect that Mary and Mary were sisters -- but I suppose the word "sister" could be interpreted to mean sister-in-law or kinswoman or some such thing.

       
    • At 4:56 pm, May 10, 2007, Blogger Matt Page said…

      Thanks Peter

       

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