Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Gospel of John on film

The Gospel of John is a 2003 movie directed by Philip Saville and narrated by Christopher Plummer. We have a DVD set that has the film itself divided between two DVDs with special features on a third. The film has a dedicated web site here. [link broken as of 2/17/2010] I tired of Jesus' unrelenting cheerfulness. I also tired of the visual flashbacks during Jesus' extended monologues. For me, they were distracting.


from Wikipedia:
It is a motion picture that has been adapted for the screen on a word-for-word basis from the American Bible Society's Good News Translation Bible. This three-hour epic feature film follows John's Gospel precisely, without additions to the story from other Gospels, nor omission of complex passages.

The movie is #64 on the list of the 100 most spiritually significant films.

I think that in claiming to be the "visual Bible" it lies, because every visual image is one interpretation of the written text. Yes, it's word-for-word from one translation, but the way it's filmed interprets that text in a particular way.

It's on youtube divided into 19 parts. Parts 1-5 have been removed as of 2/17/2010]:
part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9, part 10, part 11, part 12, part 13, part 14, part 15, part 16, part 17, part 18 and part 19.

Hollywood Jesus has a synopsis, character descriptions and screen shots and notes that "Great historical care was given to the props, costumes and settings." Christianity Today calls it "a convincing and powerful portrayal of the Johannine Jesus". EW says that the director "relies far too heavily on Christopher Plummer's gaseous, PBS-goes-to-church narration" and calls it "altogether too faithful to its source" and "ponderously middlebrow". closes its review saying, "Well mounted and honorably executed, The Gospel of John is the most religiously significant film in years." PBS'review has screen shots, criticizes the bigotry and closes by saying "I've read the book. I've seen the movie. The book is better." PBS also has an article and some links here.

1 comment:

  1. I purchased this when it first came out -- I found it useful on occasion. I've never used the entire film, but used clips of it to contrast with clips of other "Jesus films."

    I love Brad Sherrill's interpretation of The Gospel of John that he does as a one man show. Very moving.