• Bible Films Blog

    Looking at film interpretations of the stories in the Bible - past, present and future, as well as preparation for a future work on Straub/Huillet's Moses und Aron and a few bits and pieces on biblical studies.

    Matt Page


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    Tuesday, February 14, 2006

    The Cash-in of the Christ?

    Reading about a couple of the forthcoming bible films has confirmed what I expected after the box office success of The Passion of the Christ - a lot of people are now making films about Jesus. Jesus Christ is a central and pivotal figure in western history, and so the fact that some of these films have been made is nothing to do with Gibson's film. However, I imagine that most films about the life of Christ that in production, or have recently been released are either because artists interested in the subject matter have suddenly found people prepared to finance their films, or worse because they want to cash in on the newly discovered market, or alternatively because the film-makers want to correct some of the problems they see with Gibson's movie. (FWIW, many NT scholars have proposed that this is what the author of John is doing with his gospel).

    That said the 90s was also a pretty busy time for bible films being made, particularly as the millennium drew closer. In terms of feature length "films about Jesus" (a slippery term) from the 90s, I can think of 7 (Jesus, Miracle Maker, Book of Life, Mary the Mother of Jesus, Jesus Christ Superstar (Stage version), Visual Bible: Matthew, The Revolutionary) - the majority being released in 1999. So far in the 00s (noughties?), we have already had 7 (Inquisition, Second Coming, The Cross, Man Dancin', Gospel of John, Judas and The Passion of the Christ) with another few on release at the moment (Son of Man, Mary), and two more in production (The Nativity and Colour of the Cross). Even assuming that the two Jesus film projects that have gone very quiet (Gospel of Mark, and The Lamb) don't make it that's still 11 films and it's only 2006! (And I have probably missed one or two).

    That said, in terms of bible films in general, the 90s produced far more films, largely due to the Bible Collection who produced 13 films about the bible, 10 of which were Old Testament stories made in the 90s (Genesis: Creation and Flood, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Samson, David, Solomon, Esther, Jeremiah), with Jesus also being a 90s release, and only two New Testament films being made by them in 2000/02 (Paul, and The Apocalypse - I am ignoring the other four"Close to Jesus" films the Bible Collection churned out).

    Aside from the Bible Collection, there were 6 other films made in the 90s (The Prince of Egypt, La Genese, Noah's Ark, Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat, Visual Bible: Acts and The Emigrant, but only 3 so far in the 00s (Joseph - King of Dreams, In the Beginning, and One Night with the King and only Rabbi Paul that I'm aware of in the works (again there are a couple of Moses films that have gone very quiet).

    Meaning 90s:00s sums up as OT films 15:3, Jesus films 7:11, Other NT films 1:3. In other words a total of 23:17 with a third of the decade still remaining, but Jesus films have already outstripped the numbers made in the 90s even with the millennium. Given only 5 of these were released before 2004, I think The Passion has had a significant impact in this respect.


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    • At 7:36 pm, October 02, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      "One Night With the King" is so awesome! I got to see the rough draft in its entirety and encourage everyone to go to see it!! Based on the life of Esther, this movie was filmed with the utmost excellence. Anyone can learn something from her life whether it be perserverance, courage, or a deep love for others. Make it a priority to check it out! Begins Friday, October 13!!


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