• Bible Films Blog

    Looking at film interpretations of the stories in the Bible - past, present and future, as well as current film releases with spiritual significance, and a few bits and pieces on the Bible.

    Tuesday, July 22, 2008

    Sydney's Stations of the Cross

    For some reason I seem to be writing about the Pope a lot recently, firstly the conference on his book in Nottingham here and then the celebration of Paul's 2000th birthday). His recent trip to Australia has also been in the news quite a bit, and whilst there he presided over a celebration of the Stations of the Cross for World Youth Day, Sydney.

    The official website for 'WYD SYD 08' has posted 20 minutes of highlights of the event which presents some creative and some bizarre sequences. The shots of Jesus across the crowd taken over Pilate's shoulder have an iconic power about them, but they are intercut with some odd footage of Jesus being hung upside down after his whipping. Even fellow Australian Catholic Mel Gibson didn't think of that one!

    Overall it seems fairly well done. Logistically these events always present huge challenges, and the organisers seem to have done a good job of heightening the power of the images by incorporating Sydney's major sites into the background of various scenes. The sight of Jesus dragging his cross in front of the Sydney Opera house, or him being crucified against the backdrop of Sydney Harbour Bridge (above) is quite striking.The accompanying music is an unusual blend of traditional church music, modern orchestration, and more contemporary music which, again, incorporates traditional elements such as the didgeridoo. In places the music is soothing, but often it's edgy, disturbing and uncomfortable listening - all in all quite powerful. There's the odd off moment, but overall it's bold and greatly enhances the production.

    One thing that's interesting about the highlights is its sensitivity to the anti-Semitism issue. It's hard to tell whether this was a feature of the event, or just how the online footage has been edited, but the appearance in front of the Jewish authorities is almost non-existent. Furthermore, because Jesus's road to the cross has been transformed into a trip along the harbour on a barge, there's no Jewish crowd to approve and support what is going on.

    Thanks to Brendan O'Regan at FaithArts for the tip off. Brendan also informs me that Jesus is played by Australian actor Alfio Stuto and finds echoes of Olivia Hussey's turn in Jesus of Nazareth in the portrayal of Mary.


    • At 3:21 am, August 04, 2008, Blogger Patrick said…

      Mr. Matt,
      As far as I know, the 'Jesus-being-hung-upside-down' was not entirely original to the Sydney WYD.

      A Filipino Jesus film, entitled Kristo also used the same approach, as far as I can remember; it's been about 3-4 years since I last saw it, so I can only remember it vaguely. A scene from that film portrays Jesus' scourging with Jesus being hung upside-down from a gallow of sorts, being rocked back and forth while soldiers at either end whip him.


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