• 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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    Friday, March 21, 2008

    The Passion - Part 3 Scene Guide

    See all posts on this film.
    The Good Friday Episode of The Passion was also going to be the most critical. Moreover, this was the first episode I hadn't had the chance to watch in advance, which means I've not really had the chance to reflect on it before writing the comments below.

    As with the previous two episodes I'm giving biblical references in my usual scene guide format (citation guide). Passages in square brackets are extra-biblical episodes. My overall review of this programme is here.

    Last Supper - Mark 14:17
    Washing Disciples' Feet - John 13:1-8
    Love One Another - John 13:34-35
    Peter's Denial Predicted - Mark 14:26-31
    Judas's Betrayal Predicted - Mark 14:18:21
    Teaching at the Last Supper - John 13:33,36; 14:15-20; 16:21-22; 17:7-9
    A New Sacrament - Mark 14:22-25
    Gethsemane I - Mark 14:32-34
    [EBE - Judas and the Temple Guards]
    [EBE - Caiaphas and his Wife]
    [EBE - Pilate and his Wife]
    Gethsemane II - Mark 14:35-42
    Arrest - Mark 14:43-50
    Pilate's Wife's Dream - Matt 27:19
    Trial Before Caiaphas - Mark 14:53-64
    Peter's Denial - Mark 14:66-73
    [EBE - Jesus Put in a Cell]
    Trial Before Pilate - Mark 15:1-5
    [EBE - Pilate's Wife Pleads with him]
    Barabbas Freed, - Mark 15:6-15a
    Jesus is Condemned and Scourged - Mark 15:15b
    [EBE - Disciples in Hiding I]
    [EBE - Judas and Barabbas]
    Via Dolorosa - Mark 15:20-22
    Crown of Thorns - Mark 15:17
    Judas Hangs Himself - Matt 27:1-5
    [EBE - Caiaphas and Joseph]
    Crucifixion - Mark 15:22-27
    Priests Try to Change Jesus's Sign - John 19:20-22
    The Two Thieves - Luke 23:39-42
    Mary and John - John 19:26-27
    Jesus's Death - Mark 15:34-37
    Originally this show was to be stripped throughout Holy Week in 6 half hour episodes, and it was obvious that tonight's episode was originally intended to play on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. The dividing point was obviously just as Jesus was put in his cell. It'll be interesting to see how HBO broadcast this next Easter, as the natural scheduling dates, were it to be shown in 6 half hour episodes, would be:
    Ep.1 - Palm Sunday - Triumphal Entry (1st half of our part 1)
    Ep.2 - Holy Monday - Clearing of the Temple (2nd half of our part 1)
    Ep.3 - Tue/Wed - More Teaching (Our part 2)
    Ep.4 - Maundy Thursday - Last Supper / Gethsemane (1st half of our part3)
    Ep.5 - Good Friday - Crucifixion (2nd half of our part 3)
    Ep.6 - Easter Sunday - Resurrection (Our part 4)
    Following on from that it's interesting to see how the different episodes can switch their emphases between the various gospels. Overall this production harmonises the gospel with the greatest emphasis on Mark and John. In tonight's two-parter it was interesting to see that the first half could have been taken almost entirely from John, but that the second part felt more like Mark, though unique elements from all three gospels were included.There were far fewer extra-biblical episodes tonight (only a quarter) and most of these were fairly brief. However, the ones which were given more time this evening were very impressive. The most interesting one was where Judas and a newly freed Barabbas end up in the same tavern but for very different reasons. It was quite unlike anything I've seen before in a Jesus Film. That's actually quite strange though because scenes where two characters who are unknowingly related to one another happen to be in the same place are very common in film in general. I guess this just shows how keen the film makers are to make this film more down to earth.

    The other extra-biblical scene that was good was the one between Caiaphas and Joseph of Arimathea. I'd seen Joseph's lines in several places, but Caiaphas's retort was new to me and carried a real punch.

    I also liked the scene with Judas and the Temple Guard. There's been a small amount in the press (mainly the Daily Mail) about how this film seeks to be more sympathetic to Judas. I have to say though that having now seen all of Judas' involvement, I don't think film has done much in that way that other Jesus films haven't done already. The idea of him being caught between two father figures was newish, and there was an interesting explanation as to why Judas took the money (the Temple Guard forced it on him to clear their own consciences clean), but there was no more sympathising with him than there was in King of Kings, Jesus Christ Superstar or Jesus of Nazareth. There was something in this scene that was reminiscent of Edmund and the White Witch's in 'The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe'.Likewise there was some talk about this version of Mary being less serene than previous incarnations. There was a scene in episode one between her and Jesus where this was in evidence, but I'd been expecting something more tonight. It never really materialise, although full credit to Penelope Wilton for here performance at the crucifixion. It was outstanding.

    The other thing that has been in the papers was, of course, the position that Jesus was crucified in (as picked up by The Daily Telegraph). Having seen it, I didn't find it anything to get worked up about, but it did make me think about crucifixion in a new way. That said, it seemed strangely out of keeping with this production that Jesus got to hang onto his loincloth.

    There was also some interesting camera shots. Michael Offer had described the way they were going to shoot the moment the cross was erected, but I couldn't quite see how it was going to be any different to King of Kings. It was.I should also mention Joe Mawle's performance here as Jesus. Both the crucifixion and the scene in Gethsemane were incredibly moving, and the subtler, arguably more difficult, scenes such as his two trials were played very well too. Likewise James Nesbitt really showed his pedigree in this episode as well getting the historical Pilate's petulance off to a tee.

    Finally, there were various comments made about the shot of women showering Jesus with petals in Episode 1, and this scene is recalled by Jesus as he walks along those same streets in this episode in very different circumstances. I've been meaning to say that I think the petals shot is a reference to Last Temptation of Christ and the idea of Jesus flashing back to his triumphal entry on his way to the cross was, no doubt, commenting on a similar idea in The Passion of the Christ.


    There are also comments on this episode by Doug Chaplin at MetaCatholic, and Gemma Simmonds at Thinking Faith (how do they get them up so quickly?). I expect one from Michael Bird at Euangelion shortly.

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