• 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.

    Wednesday, April 28, 2010

    Channel 4's Jesus Christ Movie Star Available on YouTube

    Way back in 1992 I caught the end of a documentary about Jesus films as part of Channel 4's Easter schedule. At the time I regretted missing the rest of it, and remember being intrigued by Jesus of Montreal. It was the first time I had heard of the film, although it would be eight more years until I finally got to see it.

    Fourteen years later Channel 4 revisited the subject, broadcasting The Passion, Films, Faith and Fury presented by Robert Beckford and included two excerpts with me. Participating in that documentary got me thinking about trying to track down the older one. The problem was that all I could remember was th subject matter, the approximate year and Jesus of Montreal. I also seemed to recall Baryy Norman's involvement but that seemed to clash with the idea that it was on Channel 4. Eventually I worked out that it must have been Jesus Christ Movie Star from Channel 4 in 1992, but any attempts to get hold of it failed.

    Then yesterday when Неделковски Ѓорѓи let me know that some wonderful person has posted it up on YouTube. It's in six parts (due to the way YouTube do things) and runs for just short of an hour. There are a couple of bits missing, presumably due to someone not starting the video again after the advert break, but the only major omission is (I presume) the section on Jesus Christ, Superstar, which is ironic given the programme's title.

    The documentary itself was actually quite good, with interviews with those involved in all of the recent major Jesus films: Max von Sydow, George Stevens Jr., Enrique Irazoqui, David Greene, Lew Grade, Robert Powell, Terry Jones, Martin Scorsese, Willem Dafoe and Denys Arcand. There were also a couple of experts: Harvey Cox (Harvard) and Sheila Johnston (then of The Independent now of The Telegraph) and it was narrated by Ian McShane who has a bit of experience with Bible films himself.

    For an hour long documentary it covers quite a lot of ground, and there are some real gems in the interviews. It was also apparent that someone had actually worked quite hard on McShane's script. There were a number of fine turns of phrase, perhaps all the more notable because of the relative paucity of well-crafted words in most documentaries today.

    I was also pleased to see a bit of footage from a film I was not at all familiar with, James B. Sloan's Barabbas from 1935. It prefigures 2001's The Cross and the film about Mohammed The Message with it's use of Point of View shots in order to comply with a ban on showing Jesus on screen.

    I'm not sure how long this film will remain up for, as it's not on the official Channel 4 YouTube Channel. That's good news for those outside of the UK as they will be able to watch it, but it's possible that 4 might ask for it to be taken down at some point. It is of course well within their rights to do so, but it would be a little churlish if they never intended to make it available in another format, so lets hope not.



    • At 8:45 am, April 28, 2010, Anonymous Justin (3 Minute Theologian) said…

      Do you want a DVD of it? the whole thing? (recorded on vcr in 92, and latterly transferred-- for private study purposes only, of course (!)

    • At 9:38 am, April 28, 2010, Blogger Matt Page said…

      Wow, thanks and yes please!

      I can't find any contact details on your site so is there any chance you would you be able to send me your email address (that link should work, but if not there's a link under my profile pic on this blog's front page).

      Thanks again,


    • At 1:05 pm, April 28, 2010, Blogger Raspberry Rabbit said…

      Well good, and if all this publicity gets my wee videos taken off my youtube channel you might have to send me one too


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