(Since it is Easter week I thought I'd repost this.)
Most people who know me know that I didn't care much for the movie, The Passion of The Christ. Not for the reasons mentioned in the media, the bloodiness or the supposed antisemitism, but because it was an mixture of a little bit of Bible and a lot of Catholic tradition, myth and superstition. It was really a Catholic sermon based on the Stations of the Cross, not the Bible. I'm pretty sure that most of the evangelicals who advocated for it and promoted it didn't even recognize these elements. (Did they recognize the exaltation of Mary the mother of Jesus in the scene where she offers Peter forgiveness for betraying Jesus and Peter responds that he is unworthy?) But to those of us who grew up in the Catholic church they were readily apparent and ubiquitous.
So what's your point, Big Dan?
I don't have any problem with a Catholic sermon per se, but I do have a problem with evangelicals and protestants ignorantly and so enthusiastically confirming Catholics in their unbiblical and contra biblical superstitions and traditions. Worst of all, to my mind, the evangelical communities tremendous energy in promoting The Passion of The Christ makes their disregard for a truly great movie about the life of Jesus that much worse.
What movie is that?
Why, The Miracle Maker, of course.
The Miracle Maker, is a claymation film like Chicken Run, or Wallace and Gromit. Most people tend to think of claymation as a kind of kids thing but Wallace and Gromit should have put the lie to that. Here the claymation adds to the film. It allows for the creation of a whole atmosphere, buildings, homes, animals, clothing, crowds, details of architecture and everyday activity which would not be possible in a live action film. The voices are done by a great cast of actors, including Ralph Fiennes, as Jesus, William Hurt as Jairus, and Miranda Richardson as Mary Magdelene.
What make this movie a stand out is the historical and scriptural accuracy. While The Passion of the Christ was steeped in Catholic religious tradition, from the costumes of the women to the events on the way to the cross. The Miracle Maker tries to get the historical material right and delivers what is, to my way of thinking, an extremely accurate portrayal of Jesus.
A couple of the historical accuracies I noticed. As the movie opens Jesus is working on a construction project in Sephoris. Nice detail. Sephoris was a fairly large city which was being built/rebuilt by Herod starting in about 4 B.C. as a regional capital. It was about 4 miles from Nazareth and was no doubt the place where Joseph the carpenter and his son Jesus earned most of their income. (Hmm… I wonder if Joseph didn't move to Nazareth specifically to work on the construction of Sephoris.)
When Jesus goes to be baptized by John he fully immerses himself in the water. When Jews baptized they didn't touch the people. The baptizer was there simply to make sure that the person was fully immersed. Sometimes they would push their heads under the water. I mention these examples only to show that somebody put a lot of thought and study into the script for this film.
The portrayal of Jesus is fantastic. He's not some grim, stoic, blond haired, blue eyed, Jesus but a laughing, crying, playing, teasing Jewish Rabbi. The scene around the healing of Jairus' daughter is fantastic. Jairus tries to hurry Jesus along and then Jesus stops to deal with the woman with the issue of blood. At this point news comes that his daughter is dead. All hope is lost. If only Jesus would have hurried. But then Jesus turns and tells him to keep believing.
After being tempted in the wilderness Jesus goes to his friend Lazurs' home. They're giving him a hard time about leaving his father's business. Jesus replies that instead of building furniture he's now building the Kingdom of God.
The response of the disciples to the resurrection of Jesus is very well portrayed. When Mary Magdalene, out of whom Jesus has cast the devils, tells Peter that she has seen Jesus risen from the dead the expression on his face says that he thinks that she's gone back to the way she was before.
My favorite scene comes at then end of the movie where Jairus' daughter is telling an even younger girl something about Jesus and she ends the moving by saying, "The Kingdom of God is here."
Here's a link to the movies official website.
Here's a link to its page on Amazon.com. Its selling for $13.
Here's the link to it's page on the Internet Movie Database, IMDd.