• 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.

    Saturday, March 12, 2016

    Video Clips for The Young Messiah

    I first blogged about the film adaption of Anne Rice's novel "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt" almost decade ago. So it's a little frustrating that now it has finally made it to the big screen - albeit under the new name Young Messiah - I have no way of seeing it (at least until it either gets released in the UK or comes out on DVD). But perhaps I should really say "seeing all of it" because at the time of writing quite a large proportion of it is available to view as clips online. That's hardly unique for films these days, least of all Bible films, the amount of footage available before the release of 2014's Noah was considerable. But I thought I may as well post all the links so that anyone who wants to whet their appetite before going to catch it this weekend, or who wants to catch a glimpse of what those in North American are getting to see, can join in too.

    Given the nature of the clips here it's hard to put them in chronological order. The majority of the film is not set during the gospel stories but rather between the nativity narratives and the time we next encounter Jesus at the age of 12. Indeed most of the film takes place when Jesus is seven and therefore consists largely of fictional/legendary stories of Jesus, or the events of the Nativity told via flashback - which can of course happen in almost any order. Anyway, here are the links:

    As you'd expect there are various TV Spots and teaser trailers around at the moment, but this is the main one and it contains a number of points of interest. Firstly, there's the scene which, with a nod to the "Infancy Gospel of Thomas", features Jesus bringing a bird (back to?) life. This incident was also included in the US (but not international) cut of Jesus (1999). It's also noticeable that there's quite a few shots of the film's biggest name, Sean Bean. I get the impression though that Bean is not really in this film for that long. Bean, of course, has Bible film form having starred over twenty years ago in the Bible Collection's Jacob back in 1994. I also like the use of the words from Phil. 2.

    The Divine Plan
    This is one of the more recent clips to emerge and might be one of the best. I think it's strong precisely because it's stripped away of any miracles and doesn't feature the child Jesus and just comes down to the two actors playing Joseph and Mary going head to head. For all the healing birds, big sets and large crowd scenes of some of the other clips I suspect that this is a far more intimate film resting on the performances of its leads and, if so, this scene is quite promising.

    The Decision
    This is one of the scenes that stars Shaun Bean and it hints at another earlier in the film. I'm not familiar with the books, but I wonder if the intended trajectory for Bea's character is to be the centurion at the foot of the cross. That said Bean's character would be rather old by then so perhaps not.

    The Story
    This is the annunciation retold by Mary, an there's good and bad here. On the plus side telling the story from Mary's perspective works well and gives it a more subjective angle. It also saves the need for expensive/potentially cheesy/distracting special effects. Interestingly Jesus (1999) and The Miracle Maker (2000) also have Mary retelling the story to Jesus - although in both cases its the adult Jesus. I also like the way it emphasises how young Mary would likely have been. "I was just 14 when you were born, a girl really". On the downside the line about only telling you this story once seems bit odd. Why on earth would she only tell him once. And how come she was later happy telling it to people (who may have told it to others) such that it ended up in the gospels.

    The Fight
    This is quite an odd scene where Jesus gets bullied and, because - of course - the Prince of Peace can't fight back - has to rely on someone else to do his violence for him. I'm not sure this scene really works, both because of that, and because the child actors aren't particularly convincing here.

    The Nativity
    ...specifically the arrival of the magi, which I notice is on foot.

    The Way of Prayer
    This was another of my favourite clips featuring a nice recontextualising of Psalm 23 as Jesus and his family have to walk through an avenue of men hanging on crosses. Again it recalls Jesus (1999) where John the Baptist and Jesus reminisce about seeing a similar scene as children and, of course, Spartacus (1960).

    The Power of Healing
    This is another shot of Jesus performing some kind of miracle, though it's not clear from the clip shown here exactly what healing occurs.

    The Enemy
    Perhaps this is the strangest of all these clips, most notably the question of who the guy with the blond hair and armoured fingers is. Putting this together with other clips suggest some kind of devil/demon type character )IMDb lists him as "the demon", presumably based on the credits.

    Joining the Family
    Here the Holy Family encounter an escaped slave woman and Jesus offers her a pair of shoes and persuades his family to take her with them back to Nazareth.

    Child's Questions
    Again this is one of those more intimate scenes and whilst Jesus is a bit too holier than thou (which I guess is the point) I buy his interaction with Joseph here, not least because bits of it reflect how I interact with my seven year old (who was sick whilst I was in the middle of writing this post).

    Ambassador Video
    This isn't a clip or a trailer, but something encouraging people to hire out theatres to hold special preview screenings. I'd be interested to know how many people went for this option. It's a little ambitious - "We're particularly looking for gold and platinum ambassadors" - at $100k for the later I rather imagine they are...


    As it looks like it will be a while until I can review this film, for now I suggest you read Steven D. Greydanus' enthusiastic take on the film ("Jesus has given so much to Superman over the years, it seems only right for Superman to give a little back."), Peter Chattaway's, as always, informative review and for balance a rather more scathing assassination courtesy of The Guardian ("Like a gif from Upworthy.com come to life").

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