• 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


    Tuesday, October 15, 2019

    The Human Touch: Jesus' Hands in Jesus of Nazareth (1977)

    I've been thinking quite a bit about Franco Zeffirelli's Jesus of Nazareth (1977) recently and been doing some close analysis on the shots. I'll write more at a later stage (maybe), but for now, I couldn't help noticing this time around, how in may scenes Jesus is surprisingly intimate with those who are coming, quite literally into contact with him. This is partly something that the camera does - more on that in another post, but also, it's noticeable how often he deliberately physically touches someone.

    These moments are not just casual, irregular moments in the film, they consistently occur at the emotional high point of the scene: the moment when someone is healed; or the moment someone decides to turn their life around.

    I think these are both of the daughter of Jairus, one as he is healing her, then one as if to comfort her afterwards.

    Below is Jesus with Mary Magdalene at the house of Simon the Pharisee. This is the only shot that could be described as a two-shot, but they are common throughout these scenes.

    This last one is (obviously) not Jesus, but two of his disciples, Peter and Matthew. This is from the end / emotional high at the end of Jesus' narration of the Parable of the Prodigal Son at a feast at Matthew's house. The two men, who previously were enemies, are reconciled. It's interesting that they have clearly been learning about this trait of Jesus' and have now started doing it instinctively themselves.



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