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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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    Tuesday, May 04, 2010

    Would Pullman's "The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ" Ever Get Made into a Film?

    I've written a brief piece for the ReJesus blog on Philip Pullman's latest novel "The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ". It's an overview of what's been said about the book thus far, rather than a review as such (because I haven't actually had a time to read it yet), but I've found the debate so far, not least the different ways Pullman has come across in the different interviews.

    Being a fan of Jesus films I've obviously been wondering, in the midst of all this publicity, if the book might ever get made into a film. There are a number of reasons why it wouldn't: the controversy; fear of boycotts, or much worse; the poor box office takings; a perceived lack of interest in films about Jesus; there being a number of other potentially controversial films about Jesus in the pipeline; and so on.

    On the other hand there are a few reasons to think that this film might, one day, make the transition to the silver screen. (What follows is pure speculation). Firstly, because controversial films about Jesus have been made before. Studios may be wary about such projects after everything that happened with Last Temptation of Christ, but it did mark something of a watershed: it's hard to imagine such large protests ever being held again. Following on from that there is some common ground with that film because that story also started life as a controversial novel. And there are a number of similar plot elements between Pullman's novel and Scorsese's film, particularly if you view the (scoundrel) Christ as a stand in for Judas. Not to mention the sceptical reading of Paul that both works adopt.

    Then there's also the fact that Pullman has already have films adapted from his books. It's true that The Golden Compass (from the "His Dark Materials" trilogy) did poorly at the box office, but I don't think many people have blamed the author for this. A different film in a different genre by different filmmakers might be an attractive prospect for another studio.

    So it will be interesting to see if a studio does decide to pick this up, and whilst I doubt I would agree with it's overall thrust, if done right it could make for an engaging exploration of the historical Jesus.

    (Incidentally the photo above is taken from ABC's 2004 film Judas which I reviewed back in 2005 for Open Heaven)


    • At 4:35 pm, May 04, 2010, Blogger Unknown said…

      I first heard about Pullman's new book this morning on National Public Radio ("All Things Considered" I think) here in the States and was immediately intrigued. I would definitely go see it if it made it to the big screen. Unfortunately I live in the South and if there were any boycotts the theaters might be too fearful to show it. Although when The Passion came out churches were giving out free tickets left and right.

      In the interview this morning Pullman clearly stated he's not out to claim his book as truth but to tell a story. It's sad that some stories are too controversial to tell (even though they're just a story).

    • At 10:13 am, May 10, 2010, Blogger Matt Page said…

      It's interesting because he often comes across as being quite a fair and reasonable man when you hear hi being interviewed, but in other (written?) interviews he seems more strident. I can't quite work out which is the real Philip Pullman, but perhaps it's the differences between the two media (print and radio) rather than changes in himself.



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