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    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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    Wednesday, August 26, 2009

    The Passion of Joshua, the Jew

    Just came across this title on Amazon searching for films about Joshua. Released the year after The Passion of the Christ it was one of the many films to try and present itself as the anti-passion film.

    Precious little information remains at the official website, but it is available on DVD at Amazon which gives the following product description:
    The Passion Of Joshua The Jew traces the journey of a young scholar, believed by an influential rabbi to be the new Messiah, across land and sea, encountering believers of the Qur’an, the Gospels and the Torah, to his tragic destiny, paralleling the fate of Jesus of Nazareth, another Jewish scholar who fell victim to prejudice masquerading as authority.
    The Amazon page also includes this customer review which tells us a good deal more about the film.
    In 1492, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand declared Spain to be a Roman Catholic country, and that the Jews and Moslems who had peacefully coexisted as Spaniards for centuries were now given three months to leave the country...for good.

    THE PASSION OF JOSHUA,THE JEW is a very clever film that delves into the historical aspects of two families,one Jewish and the other Moslem,who had been friends and take different paths eventually in fleeing Spain.The script,though, centers on the Jewish family and they head for "safe haven." What essentially is the crux of this film is the family's arrival in a town where they must disguise themselves as Christians at the feast of "The Carazza" or Passion Play.This is the event of the Easter scene each year and everyone has a part.What so cleverly and sadly happens is when the son,Joshua, plays the the part of Jesus, The Messiah, actually believing that he IS the Messiah!.It ends up rather tragically.

    This film is a clever and stinging indictment on the Catholic Church and their persecution of the Jews in following years leading into The Inquisition.This is an odd,yet very interesting twist on how the Spanish Inquisition was very much another 33AD Passion Play gone bed!.Unique and highly recommended.

    That this film quotes and apology from the now deceased Pope John Paul with an apology to the Jews for The Catholics part in their mistreatment is all the more poignant at the conclusion of this film.
    Aspects of this sound similar to the 2002 film Inquisition starring Derek Jacobi, which was based on the short story "The Legend of the Grand Inquisitor", from Dostoyevsky's novel "The Brothers Karamazov". Producers Xenon pictures deal with a lot of Spanish related cinema, and the trailer and the host of Spanish-sounding actors' names suggest that not only will the film be set in Spain, but that is also seeking to give it a Spanish feel.

    Sadly the sole review for the film on Rotten Tomatoes, appears to disagree with the 4 star review above. It comes from Jay Weissburg of Variety. Here's a brief quotation:
    Bland direction is the least of the sins perpetrated by "The Passion of Joshua, the Jew," a historical pic billing itself as the anti-Gibson "Passion" but in reality little more than recruiting propaganda for Jews for Jesus. Conceived by helmer Pasquale Scimeca as a salvo against anti-Semitism, pic doesn't know how to handle its theme, and ends up championing the concept of the Christianized Jew rather than the universality of a Jewish Jesus-like figure during the Spanish Inquisition.

    ...the pedestrian nature of his screenplay, coscripted with Nennella Buonaiuto, also works against any well-meaning aims. Heavy-handed parallels between the Inquisition and present-day, with Jews and Muslims pointedly shown as brothers-in-exile, pushes the bounds of preachiness. Scene set-ups lack spontaneity.
    Both reviews mention the leading character's involvement with a passion play so it appears that this film also plays around with some of the ideas in Jesus of Montreal. The links between this film and Passion of the Christ, Inquisition and Jesus of Montreal might be enough to tempt me to overlook the Variety review and invest in a copy. Watch this space.



    • At 12:43 am, December 14, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      eu assisti o filme achei muito bom ... levando para lado historico como o fanatismo religioso foi cruel com pessoas inocentes ... Mais que eu entendi foi muito bem,,, QUE O DEUS É UM SÓ NÃO HA OUTRO ... O DEUS DOS Judeus, Mulçumanos dos, eo cristão ... Ponto final!


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