• 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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    Thursday, March 30, 2006

    A Coptic / Arabic Jesus Film?

    Jeffrey Overstreet has discovered news about plans to make a Jesus film in Arabic. It's a plan between Coptic Christian Fayez Ghali, and a Muslim producer Mohammed Uchub/Ashub/Ashoub, and has already caused quite a stir, even though it would appear that the film is a long way from being made. In particular, when they requested authorisation from Al-Azhar, an ancient mosque that has extended to become an academic institution, and the "highest authority in Sunni Islam",1 they were told that "the image of the prophet [Jesus should] not appear".

    Peter T Chattaway has rounded up a number of different news articles on the story, so I recommend you read his post and the various links he has assembled.

    One thing that does seem strange is that there are already two films that provide something of a precedent here. Firstly, the Jesus film (1979), has, of course, been translated into Arabic already. Secondly, as others have pointed out, The Passion of the Christ played in Egypt without problems. Indeed some cited its generally positive reception as evidence of its anti-Semitism.

    Part of the reason I was slow out of the blocks on this one is that I'm not overly optimistic that it will ever get made. I hope it does. Whilst I eagerly anticipate seeing this years' films such as Son of Man and Color of the Cross, which have black actors playing Jesus, I long for the day that a Jewish / Middle Eastern actor plays him. I am amazed that no-one has done this yet. Of course Carl Dreyer spent 16 years trying to make a film about the Jewish Jesus. (There is an interesting Variety article on this). It seems strange that so long after that project failed we are still awaiting another one - despite the frequent aspirations to realism that Jesus film directors routinely trot out. Anyway, hopefully this will be the first film to use someone from Jesus' part of the world to take on the role.

    1 - "Al Azhar objects to Egyptian-made Jesus movie", Middle Eastern Times, International Edition. March 20, 2006
    2 - "Egypt: Muslims Oppose Planned Film On Jesus" - AllAfrica.com

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    • At 3:47 am, March 31, 2006, Blogger RC said…

      Great post...thank you so much for sharing...I had no idea about any of those films where a black man plays Jesus...very interesting...thanks for sharing...I'm glad I found your blog this evening.

      --RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com

    • At 6:07 pm, March 31, 2006, Blogger Matt Page said…

      Thanks for your comments RC. Glad you liked the article.


    • At 9:23 am, September 11, 2006, Blogger Matt Page said…

    • At 3:26 pm, January 31, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

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    • At 7:58 am, May 21, 2009, Blogger Hwa Sung Ryu said…

      I think these kinds of films will be important, theologically as well. I think any Jesus films are like our generation’s commentaries to the story of Jesus. With our imagination, we fill the blanks. It is like putting our imagination into the story of Jesus.
      I hope that they will be able to make one, with their own Egyptian, Coptic, or Arabic imagination.

      Since you have researched many movie makers, I wonder whether you can give some general advice for those who want to make another Jesus movie. What kind of advice would you give? I would love to see your posts in relation to this, if you already written something like that. Everybody likes to do their own way. But I want to hear your opinion. It may be a thought for your new post????

    • At 9:51 am, May 21, 2009, Blogger Matt Page said…

      I could probably go on for hours, but the things that spring immediately to mind are:

      1 - Cast a Jewish person as Jesus.
      2 - Show him with short hair.
      3 - Base it primarily on Mark's gospel
      4 - Show some Jewish neutrality to Jesus so that not all the characters can be divided into the camps of proto-Christian, or Jesus' enemy.

      Just a few off the top of my head.


    • At 4:02 pm, February 18, 2010, Blogger Witlessd said…

      Looks like the filming of Fayez Ghali's script is still on track, as the director has been announced as Ahmed Maher.

      The article is here, from Al-Ahram:


    • At 12:13 am, May 05, 2010, Anonymous softball bat said…

      I like so much the religious films, they are so interesting for me, I'm catholic so I love The Passion of Christ, I hope watch more films like those.

    • At 9:48 am, May 05, 2010, Blogger Matt Page said…

      Thanks for dropping by



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