The King of Kings

May 21, 2012

The Gospel According to Matthew

May 20, 2012

In the opening scene where the viewer is introduced to the Virgin Mary, she is standing looking blankly into the camera in front of an arch way.  By positioning her in this spot, we get the sense that she is indeed Devine and cherished by God.  Also, while Mary stands there, we see Joseph walking away from her with no music or dialogue, only the sounds of nature.  The lack of background noise, just the birds chirping gives a dramatic feel and sets the tone for the rest of the film.

This is obviously not a big budget movie.  Little expense was spent on special effect to make the miracle scenes more real.  In a very simple way, the miracle is presented to the audience and then with a cut to another person or scenery, it goes back to the miracle at hand and it has occurred off camera.   This does not take away from the power of the miracles, in a way it adds to the mystery of Jesus’ powers and abilities.  The only miracle we see on screen occurring is when Jesus walks on water which was done very nicely to give the desired effect.  The only part where some kind of effects or special techniques had to be used was when Judas hung himself.  I am not quite sure how they accomplished this scene without hurting the actor.

Throughout the film, there are long stretches of dialogue where Jesus speaks directly into the camera.  By having this happen, it is as though Jesus is speaking directly to you, the viewer.  This can evoke a greater sense of connection to the story.  There is a part of the film (57:25) where Jesus is giving a speech as he stands at the edge of a building while his disciples are below him on steps.  This was a visual indication that Jesus is above all men and closer to God.  Another speech of Jesus’ which makes the viewer feel that they are there is when the camera is not simply focused on one specific aspect.  The camera is almost like a personal view of an audience member walking through the crowd to get closer to Jesus as he speaks.

A striking moment during the crucifixion scene is when I realized that there is no sound from the scene at hand, only music playing.  We do not hear cries from the Virgin Mary, anything the guards may be saying, the smack of the hammer as they nail Jesus to the cross- Nothing.  I feel that this relates to the fact that Jesus remains silent during his crucifixion, and the music, as well as the facial expressions of the witnesses, conveys all the emotion needed.


The Prince of Egypt

May 20, 2012

The film The Prince of Egypt opens with clouds blocking the sun than dispersing to allow the sun to shine through.  When looking at the graphics, I feel that this opening scene is a foreshadowing of the film.  It is the story of Moses and after the ‘darkness’ which will consume Egypt with the plagues and enslavement of the Jewish people, the light will finally prevail once Moses leads the Jews to freedom.

The song at the beginning of this animated film also evokes emotion from the viewer.  The song may be viewed as a little intense for an animated film, but it accurately portrays the life of an enslaved Jew.  The lyrics speak of feeling the whip on the skin and the sweat on the brow, which is also presented in the graphics.

24:35 into the film, animation with the hieroglyphics on the wall tells the story of Moses’ childhood and how he has become the Prince of Egypt.  Amazing visual effects are also seen at 34:55, the sand storm.  The ways the graphics are presented on the screen make it look so real and vivid.  At 44:10, we see Moses as he encounters the Burning Bush.  It is interesting to note that the voice of God coming from the bush is that of Val Kilmer who the voice of Moses in this film is also.  I believe that this was done because it gives God a sense of commonality with the ‘common’ man.  The way Moses hears God is through him so it stands to reason that the sound of Moses’ God would have the same voice as himself.

Later on, when Moses goes before Rameses (voiced by Ralph Fiennes) to tell him to let the Hebrews go, Moses has a stick and as he holds it up, it coils into a live snake.  The sorcerers Hotep, voiced by Steve Martin and Huy, voiced by Martin Short, laugh at his ‘tricks’ and tell him to pick up his stick.  At 55:45, after they say this, there is a shot of the snake on the ground and it hisses at the two sorcerers.  The way the snake hisses and after what has just been said, it almost makes me think that the snake is not simply hissing at them but that he is actually sticking his tongue out at the two.

Earlier in the film, we find out that the Pharoah ordered for the babies to be killed in Egypt which is why Moses’s mother put him in a basket and floated him down the river.  Because of these actions, the viewer thinks of the Pharoah as a horrible person.  Later, (1:11:50) we see Rameses telling Moses yet again that he will not let the Hebrews go.  At this point, Rameses points with a very certain stature to the way he stands.  In the screen shot, you can see the sculpture outside the window of this father and the two are standing the same way.  I feel that this makes the viewer realize that Rameses is becoming just as horrible as his father was.

 


The Last Temptation of Christ

May 20, 2012

Danielle Mitchell

The Last Temptation Of Christ

In the opening of this film, there are a lot of jump shots.  These jump shots covey an intense, unsettling feeling with the viewer, which are full of dramatic tones and suspense.  When we see Jesus in his home and Judas enters to find him building a crucifix there is great rage in Judas.  He says that Jesus is a ‘Jew killing Jews’ and how will he ‘pay for his sins?’  Jesus states ‘With my life.’ This foreshadows what will happen later in the film.  Jesus does pay with his life but rather than for his own sins, it is for the sins of the rest of the world.  The man for whom the crucifix was made is charged with multiple offenses but the most striking is for prophesying a messiah will come.  It is interesting that it is Jesus who builds a crucifix for a person accused of a crime such as this.

About 15 minutes into the film, Jesus enters the place where men pay for sex.  On the door there is a picture of coiled snakes.  The snake is associated with Satan and evil, does this mean that prostitution is a sin? A symbol of the sinning taking place behind closed doors?  When we encounter Jesus as he draws a circle on the floor of the desert to sit in and wait for God to speak to him, the screen suddenly goes black and when dim light comes back it is the temptation screen where Satan tempts Jesus.  The sudden darkness can be associated with the coming of Satan since he and evil are often represented as darkness.  Also, however simply the temptation scene is constructed, it was beautifully done.  It gets to the point of the temptation and without a lot of complicated events.  In this case, less is certainly more.

This script was beautifully written. Each word, phrase, speech has such purpose and conveys great amounts of emotion.  I am a big fan of Martin Scorsese’s work and Willem Dafoe is one of my favorite actors.  The two together, along with all the others, create such an amazing film I could hardly take notes while watching, all I wanted to do was focus on the film.


The Passion of Christ

May 14, 2012

A lot like  controversial movie The Life of Brian, Mel Gibbson’s The Passion of the Christ was also a very controversial movie. Which I’ve seen a bunch of times. I thought this to be a great movie. Speaking in the language of the the ancient Romans gives you a real feel and sense of the time in which you are viewing. I also did think the actors did an amazing job as whom they were supposed to be. The physical suffering of Jesus was portrayed very strongly throughout the entire movie; the agony and pain of the whippings, the pain of walking from Jerusalem to Golgotha, the pain of being nailed to the cross and lifted up was so strongly depicted in this movie that sometimes it became hard to watch. The imagery is extremely grotesque. Blood is everywhere, and the flesh of the character playing Jesus is heavily abused. The movie overall does well at staying with the message of the Scriptures. Even though it does seem to me that Gibbson added a few parts it still doesn’t change anything or the way the scripture really portrays to us Jesus’ last 12 hours. One part i remember  that i do not remember from the scriptural was while while Jesus carries the cross. He falls, as he falls Mary has a flashback to his childhood and he falls and Mary goes running after him and scoops him up in her arms. This part although not in the scripture brings great emotion to the scene. Showing the relationship and bond between mother and son. The passion of the Christ was said to be an anti-Semitic movie, which i do not agree with. In the movie Gibbson portrays the Jewish people to be how they were portrayed in the scriptures. Nothing more, nothing less. Overall i think this to be an excellent movie that stays relatively close to the true meanings and depictions in the scripture.

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The life of Brian

May 14, 2012

The life of Brian was a movie that i have never heard of or ever seen before. After watching it I begin to see how interesting it was and did a little background information on it. As i was looking through the background information i was trying to see what it was everyone had been talking about. Upon doing research I found out that this movie was banded in the the UK and was considered blasphemous. Some of the bans were just removed as of the late 2000’s. So knowing this about the movie when i watched it i found a few parts that would appear blasphemous but to me as a christian watching it was not offended by the movie at all. One big part would have to be the end of the movie when Brian is crucified on the cross. As he hangs the line of one of the other men on the cross is “it’s not so bad once your up here”. If it was Jesus whom they were saying it to i can see it as being offensive but it was not actually Jesus, so the movie to me in this scene did not offend me. I found the people who filmed and directed the movie to be more offensive. As i was doing research i found this quote that bashes the christians and my faith. The director, Terry Jones stated one day in response to the films poor publicity “Any religion that makes a form of torture into an-icon that they worship seems to me a pretty sick sort of religion quite honestly”. I found the movie to be entertaining not so much as offensive, it wasn’t a direct depiction of Jesus and my faith.

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Son of Man: A Modern Political Statement and Portrayal of Jesus & His Story

May 8, 2012

Son of Man, a 2006 film by Mark Dornford-May, is a revitalizing and innovative interpretation of the story of Jesus. Dornford-May in my opinion not only unraveled the story of Jesus in a new way, but also brought to life the idea of what would it be like if Jesus were amongst us today—not in the United States but rather in an impoverished country in Africa. This is impactful because Jesus’ story did take place amongst the poor, and over two thousand years later, such places of poverty still exist. It made me think of how thousands of years have passed, only to still have so much destitution alive and well in our ‘modern’ world.

                                                  

As seen in the photo above, Jesus (as well as all of the other actors in the film) is African. Dornford-May took a risk in having such a cast because of the conventional idea that we have of biblical characters. Nonetheless, I feel it was a clever and smart move for two reasons: 1-because it made me as a viewer to see the story of Jesus in a new and refreshing manner, and 2-because all the actors, despite having an unconventional appearance, in my opinion were engaging and convincing at the same time. All-too familiar characters suddenly had new vivacity. Jesus, as played by Andile Kosi was one of the most ideal versions of Jesus I have come to observe. He gracefully and naturally blended all the characteristics we know Jesus to have: kindness, charisma, strength, passion, and a captivating aura. We are shown Jesus growing up from a child to a man after the 22 minute mark, with Jesus washing his face as an adult and as if he is remembering all the atrocities he’s seen since he was young. Fade shots smoothly transitioning his experiences in order as he’s washing his face allows in my opinion for the viewer to connect not only with Jesus’ moment of reflection as if we were thinking alongside him, but also serves as a way for us to accept all the more that the man we see playing Jesus is actually Jesus.

What I found interesting was that the story of Jesus was transposed via raw footage. Throughout the film, we are believing as viewers that what we see is actually happening because we see Jesus’ miracles being shot through a ‘live’ camcorder, filming done by Judas. It allows for a more intimate take, as if instead of viewing it as a documentary, we are experiencing everything with the other witnesses. Events like Jesus saving a possessed young girl, a paraplegic young boy, and bringing a person back from the dead—all which occur one after the other after the 00:39:45 minute mark—feel like actual present-day miracles.

I feel that Dornford-May took great advantage of the environment in which the film was shot. According to IMDB.com, this film was shot in South Africa, although during the film, we can only infer it takes place in an African town. Throughout the film, there are shots that capture the amazing and beautiful natural scenery that can be found in Africa. I feel this juxtaposes the beauty of what God crafted being known as ‘The Creator’ with the dreadful state in which humankind has left its poor to live in.

 00:40:58-“…those with imperial histories pretend to forget them…” 

 

 00:45:41-Scenery following the action of Jesus raising someone from the dead.

 

00:47:55-Jesus taking a democratic and leading stance, discussing the injustices and corruption affecting today’s people.

Dornford-May, in essence, captured the story of Jesus in a modern-day fashion by presenting the story in an opposite manner. Different continent, different conditions, different-looking people, different circumstances…all made for a more impressive and fascinating interpretation of the story of Jesus while at the same time answering the question ‘what if Jesus were with us today?’ What would he do and how would he react to what is going on in our present day?

The film does this by representing the key figures and events of the original story of Jesus that we are all familiar with, and makes Jesus an optimistic democrat in an area overwhelmed with injustice. In turn, the film not only interprets what is known as the New Testament, but is also a political statement at its core—two concepts that clash in current day and are like polar opposites; considering that religion and politics, especially in the United States, are like oil and water: never able to blend. Even taken out of a religious context, this film provides a sort of political wake-up-call by showing corruption occurring to this day in even the poorest of places, something we can infer that Jesus would be against if he were around today.


Son Of Man

May 7, 2012

Significance of children

One of the most interesting films we watched to date in class Son of Man, we are introduced to an African interpretation of the bible. The media has always portrayed the messiah as a white male. The film starts with the devil tempting Jesus and shifts directly to war and turmoil. The next scene the camera shifts onto Mary in the classroom. She is in complete shock and fear, looking at war going on outside and the children all piled in the classroom in fear. An angel in the form of a child appears and instructs her that she will bare a son that will be destined to be the chosen man. The children act as a symbol for hope and the future. I thought it was very beautiful how the angel was watching Jesus and Mary in refuge taking in daily activities. The angel plays with baby Jesus and even warns him and Mary about trouble coming. When the soldiers come to town to demand the children to register with the militia they show a graphic scene of a child being blanketed and killed. This scene shows Jesus, Mary and the Angel seeing the brutal violence, shows how much importance is put in the children. During Marshall law the children are put down and people are frantic and we just see Jesus sit down and nurse one of the children on his shoulder. I thought this was very powerful that he was the calmest one during the enforcement of the village. The children are a recurring theme throughout the entire film. I thought there was a huge emphasis in how they are the future and the actions of the adults will affect the future generations. The ending shows the resurrection of Jesus and an army of child angels following him to the hilltop. I thought it ended with the constant theme of children in major events of the film indicating their importance in the present and future.

Music
I thought I’d leave you guys with some goodies here. This is the young actress that portrays Mary in the film singing this beautiful song in the beginning.


Life of Brian

May 6, 2012

The Life of Brian was interesting. I wasn’t expecting to see Jesus only once in the movie. I enjoyed the fact it was based on Brian, someone who was born in the next manger over from Jesus; rather than a film all about Jesus, it made it different than the rest. The Life of Brian satirizes the 1960’s and 1970’s which is also different and not really seen in biblical films. Throughout the parody there was some seriousness which consisted of the mocking of the ridiculousness of religious fanaticism. The question of why people do not think for themselves is continually popping up throughout the film. Both Jesus and Brian have many followers. I do not understand why people were offended by the film, you cannot always have a serious movie based on biblical features, and there must be some films that can capture a different audience. Jesus was portrayed very respectively in this movie, and that is all you could ask for.


King of Kings

May 6, 2012

This film focuses on Jesus’ ministry and the political ways of Israel. In this movie Jesus had both men and women following him which was unusual because there were never really women followers. Judas shows Jesus a rational side of himself; he believes Jesus could be a potential political solution for conflict between the Jews and the Romans. It is obvious Judas didn’t really know who Jesus really was and what he stood for. Judas, who was once a follower of Jesus, betrays him for silver to the Romans. Many different sources were used to make this film. All the Gospels were used however more of the Gospel from Matthew is portrayed in this film. I believe the King of Kings spend a lot of time on the Roman-Jewish politics while most of the teaching and miracles of Christ are told from perspectives of others rather than really shown in the film. Some scenes could have been looked at more in depth such as the woman at the well, The calming of the sea, etc.


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