Monday, January 12, 2009

Finding Jesus Christ: "The Gospel of John," the movie

Click here for an explanation about this series: "Finding Jesus Christ."

Point, click here, and buy. That's all you have to do for today.

The movie "The Gospel of John" is what we'll be discussing in our "Finding Jesus Christ" series. This is a dramatic presentation of the actual word for word text of the Gospel of John of the New Testament. The narration, cast of characters and (at times extensive) dialogue is served straight-up. There is no politically correct editing out of Jesus' conflicts with the Jewish religious leaders, nor any embarrassed censoring of some of the bizarre claims that Jesus made ("I am telling you the truth! Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves."). You can open up the actual Gospel text and literally follow the movie all the way through chapter by chapter. The film also manages to steer clear of Mel-Gibson-type emotional manipulation or Oliver-Stone-type speculation. You are left with plenty of room to come to your own conclusion about Jesus, his claims and his life.

All the actors' performances must be based upon some kind of interpretation of their characters, of course. But these performances, in my opinion, stay within the bounds of being both appropriately restrained and yet emotionally compelling. Normally I could never sit through a performance of Jesus by an actor, but Henry Ian Cusick's portrayal here is the first I've seen that I am genuinely pleased with.

You may be wondering whether the dialogue will be in some unfathomable kind of Shakespearean English ("Say not ye, there are yet four months and then cometh harvest? Behold!"). Rest easy. They used a modern English translation that was taken from a version of the Bible called The Good News Bible. You'll be able to follow what's going on just fine.

I'm guessing the movie will take about twelve days to arrive at your house by standard shipping, and it'll take another week before you get around to watching it. That means we can start discussing "The Gospel of John" in about three weeks. Talk to you then.