• 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, February 27, 2007

    Book Review: Filmstar Jesus Christus

    One of the things I have most enjoyed about running this blog, is making contact with others around the world who are also interested in this area. Back in July Thomas Langkau made contact and as a few emails went back and forth we became friends. In the process it emerged that he was in the process of writing a book on Jesus films, which has just been published

    "Filmstar Jesus Christus" is, as far as I'm aware the first book on films about Jesus to be written in German. Unfortunately, I've not really spoken much German since doing it at GCSE, almost half my life ago. It does make me wish I'd kept it up.

    However, the book doesn't just settle for going over old ground but in a different language. Instead it takes a fresh approach of concentrating on Jesus films since 1990. There is obviously an overview of the different Jesus films from the last 110 years, and the book's German perspective brings certain films to light that have passed without comment in other volumes. There are a few comments on films that have considered how Jesus would find the 20th Century such as The Second Coming or Hal Hartley's excellent Book of Life. There are also comments on films that explore religious themes such as Bruce Almighty and The Exorcist.

    The main body of the book focuses on 15 Jesus biopics since Jesus of Montreal. That starting point is significant as Lloyd Baugh claimed that films about Jesus had nowhere else to go. So Langkau picks up where Baugh, Tatum (initially), and Stern et al. left off. The fifteen films in question are:
    The Bible Collection: Jesus (1999 - Young)
    Jesus (1999 - Moati)
    The Passion of the Christ (2004 - Gibson)
    Es wäre gut, daß ein Mensch würde umbracht für das Volk (1991 - Niebeling)
    Jesus Christ Superstar (2000 - Morris / Edwards)
    Life of Jesus: The Revolutionary (1995 - Marcarelli)
    The Garden of Eden (1998 - D'Alatri)
    Judas (2004 - Carner)
    Visual Bible: Matthew (1993 - van der Bergh)
    Gospel of John (2003 - Saville)
    Mary of Nazareth (1995 Delannoy)
    Mary the Mother of Jesus (1999 Connor)
    Maria, figlia del suo figlio (1999 Costa)
    Close to Jesus Series (1999-2001 Mertes)
    The Miracle Maker (1999 Hayes Sokolov)
    I've actually only seen 9½ of these films, being only halfway through the Close to Jesus Series. The approach taken to each one varies. There's more attention on the more significant films. The Bible Collection: Jesus and The Miracle Maker get a scene guide table each comparing the screenplay of the four gospels. The Passion of the Christ, however, gets a comparison between the film, the gospels and source writer Emmerich's work. Other films, such as the films about Mary are collected together into a single chapter. The flexibility of this approach works allowing each film to be discussed in the way most appropriate to it and its readers.

    The appendices are useful as well. In addition to a film credits section, and several bibliographies, there is a list of useful websites, documentaries, and finally pictures of the DVD front covers of the 15 films featured.

    Due to my inability to speak German, I'm unable to offer any comments on the quality of the analysis. However, it's clear that this work is thoroughly researched and offers a fresh perspective in this field. Anyone who speaks German, and has an interest in this field would be advised to get a copy.



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