• 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 01, 2007

    The Cross (2001) - Scene Guide

    Here's the Scene Guide for Lance Tracy's The Cross (my review). This one is a little different from normal, as one of the DVD options is to have bible references turned on. So the references given here are mainly the ones cited by the DVD itself. Those in brackets are additional ones I have included.
    [Opening Shots]
    Road To The Cross - (John 19:17, Matt 27:55-56)
    Magdalene Cured - (Mark 16:9)
    Crucifixion - (John 19:18)
    Boy Jesus - (Luke 2:41-52)
    Father Forgive - (Mark 15:24, Matt 27:39-43)
    John Baptist - (Matt 3:1-17)
    Mother Son, Son Mother - (John 19:25-27)
    Who Is The Greatest - {Luke 24:22-27}
    Foot Washing - (John 13:1-38)
    Betrayal - (Matt 26:36-50)
    Gethsemane - {Mark 14:32-42}
    Arrest - {Mark 14:43-52}
    Trial - (Luke 22:54)
    Denial - (Matt 26:69-75)
    Roman Trial - (John 19:1-16; {Matt 27:25})
    Beating, Judas' Suicide, Peter Weeps - (Matt 27:26-30, 1-10)
    Crucifixion - (Luke 23:36-43, Mark 15:33-37, 2 Cor 5:21)
    Resurrection - (John 20:1-18)
    Peter & John At Tomb - (John 20:1-18)
    Mary Sees Jesus - (John 20:1-18)
    Mary Tells The Disciples - (John 20:1-18)
    Of all the gospels, this one relies most heavily on John. Much of the information from Gethsemane to Jesus's death is largely common, but where there are some differences, they often chose John in preference to the others. In particular the resurrection sequence almost solely reproduces John 20.

    This film also is one of the few to base Mary Magdalene more on scripture than tradition, although there is still a good deal of artistic licence. So nowhere does this film treat Mary as a prostitute. Instead we see Jesus heal her after she has self harmed / attempted suicide, and then exorcise her. Whilst we have no idea what impact, whichever demons Jesus cast out, had had on her this was an effective visual way of communicating the information, just as in Gibson's The Passion of the Christ the brief shots there communicate his take on Mary.

    One aspect that didn't ring true for me was Caiaphas recollection of Jesus as a boy. Early on in the film we flashback to the incident in Luke 2:41-51 where Jesus goes missing and is found "sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions". In this film we're shown a younger Caiaphas as amongst those teachers, and later on in the film the older Caiaphas recalls the incident and knows that these two Jesuses are one and the same.

    When I interviewed Lance Tracy, I wanted to ask him about the use of Matt 27:25 in the trial before Pilate. Whereas this sentence is only used once in just one of the gospels, here the crowd repeats it several times. Given the long association of that verse with anti-Semitism I was a bit troubled by it. However, this is also offset by the small size of the crowd in this scene. This is one of the few films where Pilate's court is shown, but is not crammed full. Such a small crowd off sets the possibility that this crowd could represent all Jewish people even at that time, and is a nice way of dealing with the scripture whilst still including it. Personally I wish they had just had the crowd utter it once (or not at all), but this is one of the most interesting scenes in the film for how it is shot.

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