• 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.

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Visual Bible's Matthew:Ch.8-9

    (From a series of posts working through the Visual Bible's Matthew).
    Having listened to 3 chapters of Jesus teaching, the next 2 chapters of Matthew's Gospel follow him in action. To start with there are a flurry of miracles, a leper is healed, as are the centurion's servant and Peter's mother-in-law, then a demoniac is exorcised. Jesus then offers a couple of pithy sayings to his would-be followers ("foxes have holes...but the son of man has nowhere...", "let the dead bury their own dead") before calming the storm, dealing with the Gadarene demoniacs and healing a paralytic. He pauses briefly to call Matthew the Tax Collector and offer the sayings about wineskins and patches on clothes before ending on another flurry of miracles, haling Jairus's daughter, a haemophiliac, two blind men and a man who cannot speak.

    It's an action packed segment, but whereas the inaction of the Sermon on the Mount forced the filmmakers to plumb their creativity, here things are more standard. There are a few exceptions. Having healed the leper Jesus proceeds to roll on the floor with him. I know for some people this is a really good moment, but personally it leaves me cold. Perhaps I'm a Pharisee?

    Another interesting moment is when the demons are cast out of the men from Gadara. The filmmakers swap their standard camera for a low hand-held one and give us the shot from the point of view of the pigs/demons. It works reasonably well, although the death of the pigs is less attention grabbing than it is in the text.

    The key moment in this section however is the calling of Matthew (pictured above), and to underline the position outlined in the prologue, Matthew the narrator points to himself. The significance of the moment is underlined by the music swelling up at this point. It's a little over-sentimental, but it does highlight a key theme of the film, that the old man we meet at the start of the film had his life irrevocably changed by this encounter. Matthew's acceptance of Jesus' call doesn't go down too well with the disciples. Peter looks a little put out, but our attention is drawn to an, as yet unnamed disciple who positively glowers as Matthew begins to walk along with Jesus. This is the second time in as many chapters that this disciple has looked angry and bewildered at Jesus' actions. Looks like there could be trouble...

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