Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Messianic Movies

Messianic Movies

Movies about Jesus Christ are always interesting. The latest one is Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, which seems to be breaking opening day grossings in the States.

Religious movies are often controversial because the subject matter is a sensitive one. There have been reports of Passion being violent and anti-Semitic. Film-makers who dare to tackle such subjects tread on a dangerous minefield.

One is reminded of Martin Scorsese's highly controversial adaptation of The Last Temptation of Christ, from a novel by Nikos Kazantzakis. There was great outroar over a dream sequence of the Anointed One making love to Mary Magdalene (non-Christians often confuse Mary Magdalene with the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ. Mary Magdalene was a prostitute who repented and became a close disciple of Christ). Eminent film critic Robert Ebert gave a very fair and good review of the movie.

My favourite actor, Willem Dafoe was the unlikely choice for Christ in Scorcese's movie. I think he did a great job and I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, which was incidentally banned in Malaysia. Mel Gibson's Son of God is played by another one of my favourite actors, Jim Caviezel, who was great in the acclaimed Terrence Mallick war flick, The Thin Red Line. I think he makes a great Jesus Christ.

My favourite Jesus Christ movie so far, or rather TV mini-series, is Franco Zeffirelli's Jesus of Nazareth with a mesmerising performance by Robert Powell in the title role. I think the film managed to capture the tense moments leading to Jesus' crucifixion. It is quite an accurate depiction of the life of Jesus according to the Gospels. I'm eager to see how Mel Gibson's work compares with this 70s production. I would think Gibson would have gone to great lengths to ensure all the facts are historically correct, since he even bothered to have the actors speak in Aramaic, the language spoken by Christ.

A piece of trivia I read about the movie: It's actually Mel Gibson's hands that nail Christ to the cross during the Crucifixion scene. Reason for Gibson's hand cameo: "It was me that put him on the cross. It was my sins [who put him there]." The movie was a a labour of love for Mel Gibson, and according to him it was, "good for the soul". Didn't know Mad Max is such a spiritual bloke.

Can't wait to watch the movie.

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