• Bible Films Blog

    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


    Friday, March 08, 2019

    April Release for Revival!

    If you follow me on Twitter, you may recall that a while ago to I posted a link to a story about  a very limited release for a new musical film about the life of Jesus. I've been meaning to write about it here ever since but have only now found the time.

    Revival! is the work of creator Harry Lennix, co-star of NBC’s The Blacklist. The musical blends together traditional spirituals such as "Down By the Riverside" and "Wade in the Water" with original gospel music such as the title piece "Revival". The mostly black cast includes some impressive singers including Chaka Khan, Destiny's Child's Michelle Williams and Grammy-nominated Mali Music in the role of Jesus.

    The film received a limited release to just ten theatres back in December, and whilst there is a piece on it by Variety, it was kinda hard to find its IMDb page. That may all be due to change. A trailer on the Tricoast website ends by announcing that it is "Coming to Theatres Good Friday April 19th" so it sounds like there might be a plan for a wider distribution.

    From the look of the trailer it looks like the film will be a mix of live on-stage footage and outdoor location shooting. According to the Religion News Services piece, it will combine those elements with "technological performances", though it's not entirely clear what is meant by that. Perhaps there will be some element of CGI. IMDb goes a step further describing it as a "hybrid of every film idiom: Broadway musical, Hollywood musical, animation, green screen technology, and sound stage". I'm guessing that the onstage footage will be taken from live performances of that stage show "Revival! The Experience".

    There is more information on the movie's official website including some more stills from the film, a change to sign up for more information and some merchandise. There is also a video featuring Harry Lennix (who also plays Pontius Pilate).

    The casting of Mali Music as Jesus will doubtless earn comparisons with the two films from 2006, Color of the Cross and Jezile (Son of Man) and I have been thinking of revisiting the former piece more recently. I'm interested in the fact that the latter (a recontextualisation of the story) attained so much media and then subsequently academic interest, whereas Color of the Cross which simply portrayed the characters as black - arguably a more daring approach - has largely been overlooked. It's interesting as well that Revival! not only largely casts black actors, but also features a female member of the historically male-only Sanhedrin, so it is crossing more than one boundary in terms of casting. I'm also reminded of the 2004 film Hero: The Rock Opera which featured a mixed cast but gave the role of Jesus to a black actor Michael Tait.

    I'll hopefully be able to review this nearer the time, but in the meantime, and particularly if you live in the US, it might be worth signing up to get more info.

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