• 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.

    Friday, October 16, 2009

    Open Heaven Jesus Films Workshop

    This Sunday I'm going to be running a 45 minute session with Jesus films at my church Open Heaven. I don't often get a chance to play to the home crowd, so to speak, so it's something I'm looking forward to. (Actually, I like it this way. It means that when they do ask me to do something it's because it's really want it, rather than because they feel they have to).

    Anyway, I'm going to be looking at how different films portray the end of the story of Jesus. It's an exercise I've run before as part of the Jesus Films course I ran a few years back (download notes), and it worked fairly well as I recall.

    I'm going to show clips from the following seven films (chapters and timings included incase anyone wants to play along at home):
    The King of Kings (1927 cut) - ch.26; start- 2:22:55; end- 2:25:50
    Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo(1964) - ch.16; start- 2:06:36; end- 2:11:00
    Son of Man (1969) - ch.10; start- 1:26:50; end- 1:28:55
    Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) - ch.23; start- 1:36:39; end- 1:41:20
    Last Temptation (1988) - ch.29; start- 2:39:28; end- 2:41:05
    Passion of the Christ (2004) - ch.15; start- 1:53:10; end- 1:55:45
    The Passion (2008) ep.4 - ch.1; start- 19:42; end- 22:42
    There's a nice mix there of how the different films end the story, focussing on the different elements. Even the films that don't portray the resurrection bring out different aspects of the significance of Jesus' death. Son of Man is very depressing, whereas Last Temptation ends on a victorious note, even though it doesn't explore a bodily resurrection.

    It's also nice to have the BBC's The Passion to add into the mix. It's one of the more controversial endings, and has been read in widely different ways. For some it suggests Jesus' followers were hallucinating, for others it nicely brought out the apparently changed nature of Jesus' physical body.

    One of the things we will look at is the different biblical accounts of Jesus' resurrection which I've summarised below:
    Women at the TombWomen at the Tomb
    Empty TombEmpty Tomb
    Jesus appears(Res'n appearances)
    Soldiers Bribed

    Women at the TombMary at the Tomb
    Empty TombPete & Jon at Tomb
    Road to EmmausMary sees Jesus
    Appearance to 11Appearance to 11
    2nd appearance to 11
    Fish for breakfast
    What I find interesting is how the films that are more popular amongst more conservative Christians (The King of Kings, Passion of the Christtend to use the most artistic licence on this part of the story, whereas those that are more criticised by those groups (Last Temptation, The Passion) actually stick more closely to the text. It's also interesting that ending a Jesus film without showing the resurrection is often considered the product of modern scepticism even though it is actually continuing the traditions of the Easter passion plays.

    Anyway, it'll be interesting to see what they all make of the different films. I'll report back next week.


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