• 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


    Sunday, September 03, 2023

    Is The Book of Clarence Movie Based on the Bible?

    (Edit: my review for this film is now live).
    The trailer for the film The Book of Clarence landed this week and given the publicity for the movie talks about Jesus, a lot of people will be wondering, is the Book of Clarence in the Bible? Is there a Clarence in the Bible and if so where in the Bible is Clarence?

    The answer to all these questions is fairly simple. There isn't a Book of Clarence in the Bible. There isn't even a character called Clarence in the Bible, even if many of the other characters in the film, are mentioned in the Bible or are known from other historical evidence. As far as we know, the movie is not even based on a true story, rather it's an original idea from British writer and director Jeymes Samuel

    Yet, based on what we know so far, it's fair to say that the film will be loosely based on the Bible. Jesus and the disciples are characters in the story doing broadly similar things to the stories about them in the gospels. Characters also recognised in Roman history, such as Pontius Pilate (who looks like he is being played by James McAvoy) will feature as well.

    In this sense, then, it looks like the film will follow a roughly similar path to Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979). Clarence is a fictional character around the fringes of the Jesus story who has some similar  experiences to Jesus and becomes some kind of figurehead. Plus, of course, both films are comedies.  

    So while The Book of Clarence will draw on the stories from the gospels, Clarence himself is a fictional character who is not even mentioned in the Bible.

    If you liked this post you might enjoy:
    > my review of The Book of Clarence (2024)
    > my book "100 Bible Films" (BFI/Bloomsbury, 2022)

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