Jesus — the film phenomenon
Jesus, The Jesus Film Project (1979)
The Ten Commandments, The Greatest Story Ever Told, and The Passion of the Christ are among many films that have attempted to bring the Bible to the screen. In 1979, Warner Brothers released Jesus with the same intent. While it wasn’t a box office success, it’s apparently been translated in over 300 languages, and viewed billions of times on an international scale.
The project began with businessman Bill Bright, who wanted to create an accurate and entertaining depiction of Jesus’ life. With a team that included hundreds of secular and Christian scholars and leaders, producer John Heyman used the Gospel of Luke as the primary source of narration and dialogue. In stark contrast to the majority of films that illustrate Biblical events, Jesus does not embellish or stray from Biblical text. It simply conveys Scripture, enabling worldwide audiences to connect with the Christ message.
Although some critics have described it as dull, monotonous, and unimaginative, I was surprised to find the film inspiring and beautiful. After a slow start with the Adam and Eve story (Genesis chapter 2), scenes of Jesus being tempted three times by the devil grabbed my attention. Why? Because the devil, indicated simply by a voice and a serpent, had no face or human presence.
From a Christian Scientist’s perspective, this clearly illustrated the nothingness of evil. What’s more, excluding a human representation of the devil allowed me to focus on Jesus and his dominion over error rather than on a film maker’s interpretation of what a devil might look like.
Similarly, Brian Deacon’s portrayal of Jesus directed my attention to the Bible’s Christly message as opposed to his human performance. Deacon truly embodied the profound power and peace with which Jesus taught his followers. He became a window through which the biblically based words could shine. His performance reminded me to claim my own God-given peace and dominion over the world in order to heal as Jesus did. What some critics called dull and unimaginative proved to be a simple lack of distraction—for which I was grateful.
Jesus opens and closes with an Evangelical Christian perspective of creation and Jesus’ role in our lives today. While much of this does not align with Christian Science, there are pertinent points. For example, it’s emphasized that Jesus is the Son of God in a “spiritual, not a physical sense,” which supports our understanding that mortal man has no place in spiritual reality. Christian Scientists further understand that we, too, are the spiritual sons and daughters of God, and that Jesus’ example proves our eternal connection to our divine Father-Mother.
The beauty of this film lies in its simplicity, attention to detail, and complete reliance on the Bible as the source of its script. For these reasons, the film has exploded into widespread popularity.RSS feed
Topics: Christ Jesus