• 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


    Thursday, July 13, 2006

    Jesus of Nazareth (1916) Final Scenes Guide

    It seems worth rounding off my look at From The Manger to the Cross (1912), and the modified version of it Jesus of Nazareth (1916/1919?) by posting a scene guide for the closing scenes. As I noted in my discussion of the film, it is basically From The Manger to the Cross with a tagged on burial, resurrection and ascension.

    I noted earlier how these final scenes use a different actor from Robert Henderson Bland who played Jesus in From the Manger to the Cross. Furthermore, whilst posting this, I've also realised that these few scenes actually utilise two different actors to play Jesus as should be obvious from their pictures on the right. Anyway, here is the detail on those extra scenes:
    Guide to scenes taken from From The Manger to the Cross
    Burial - (Mark 15:42-47)
    [extra-biblical episode - The Resurrection
    Women at the Tomb - (Mark 16:1-8)
    Ascension - (Luke 24:50-51, John 14:6)
    What is interesting about these extra scenes is that it shows what the bible doesn't describe - the actual moment of resurrection - and then skips the stories the bible does include, namely the discovery of the empty tomb, and the various reactions to it, and the appearance to various disciples. Whilst films from The Life and Passion of Jesus Christ (1905) to The Passion of the Christ (2004) have shown the resurrection despite it's omission from the gospels, most of them have also shown some reaction to it (although Gibson's film is a notable exception). Here though we only see one woman joining two others. I read this as Mary Magdalene telling some of the other female disciples about his resurrection, although it is hard to tell with such a brief scene (11 seconds and a very poor quality picture). However the shot is interpreted it is hard to fit this scene into any of the post-resurrection accounts that any of the gospels give. Mark lists 3 women who find an empty tomb and run off scared. Matthew has only two women who find an empty tomb and then meet Jesus. Luke has more than 3 women finding and empty tomb and telling the disciples, and John has Mary alone finding the empty tomb, telling Peter and John, and then meeting the risen Christ on her own.

    The final scene is the ascension which possibly goes further than any other film in showing Jesus flying off into space, and ends on the sign of the cross. I'm still wondering what the best cinematic depiction is of this scene. I quite like the ones in The Life and Passion of Jesus Christ (1905), where he, quite literally, goes up into heaven in one (smoothish) move, and the one in Dayasagar (1978) where he grows showing the transition from a man to a man of heaven, and the influence his life would have after his resurrection. I also like the brief version in Pasolini's film, and the shot of the event from Jesus' point of view in Jesus (1979).

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