• 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


    Tuesday, October 24, 2006

    Color of the Cross Interview

    Color of the Cross opens this Friday, and Mark Goodacre has discovered an interview with its exec. producer, director and star Jean Claude LaMarre, who made the film with £2.5 million of his own money. The full article is available at metromix (part of the Chicago Tribune), and goes into some depth. Here are a couple of interesting excerpts
    If Christianity's symbol of all that is good -- Jesus of Nazareth -- is white, what does that imply about black people?

    His movie, LaMarre says, was designed as a refutation of that moral equation. His disciples sit down to a last supper that's a multicultural feast shared by African-American, white, Jewish and Christian actors. On the cross, LaMarre's Jesus cries out to God in Hebrew. Other characters deliver their lines with a roly-poly inflection that, for some viewers, will spark memories of Yiddish-speaking grandparents.
    I think this will be one of the most interesting aspects of the film, and the one that's hardest to work out from all the publicity surrounding this film; how will it handle the race issue? Will it insist Jesus was black, and portray other races (such as white people) as the villains, or will it present a multicultural vision with Jesus having both black and white followers?

    Later on it says this:
    LaMarre chose to center his script on the Thursday of Holy Week. He says that the biblical narrative of what transpired on that day prior to Jesus' capture is tantalizingly thin, allowing LaMarre free rein for his imaginative powers. The resulting script emphasizes the social and political setting of Jesus' ministry.


    Frustrated by the pacifism of Jesus, whose preaching focused on the world to come, Judas becomes estranged, leading him down the road to betraying his master. LaMarre's script is also driven by a love triangle. Judas has a thing for Mary Magdalene, who won't give him the time of day.
    These are two interesting plot details. The article acknowledges that this storyline is used in DeMille's The King of Kings (1927), but of course it's used in a number of other films including Mary Magdalene (1914) and Jesus Christ, Superstar (1973). Judas being a zealot who becomes disillusioned with Jesus's pacifism is also a fairly common version of events.

    What is interesting is that the film focuses on Maundy Thursday. I'm unaware of any film that has done this before, and it certainly whets my appetite for it. It's always nice to see something unusual in this genre. Hopefully though it will, like The Passion, also include a few flashbacks, or similar device so we get to see some of Jesus's teaching. Some of the beatitudes would become very interesting spoken by a black Jesus.



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