The Passion of the Christ: The Crucifixion.

April 27, 2012

In the scene where Jesus is carrying the cross, there are a lot of things happening that don’t in many crucifixion scenes. Jesus holds onto the cross for dear life, he is not only carrying the heavy wooden plank, but grasping it as if for some sort of comfort. It looks to me as if he’s gripping it so tightly to help bare this horrible tragedy, to hide himself from the crowd that’s tormenting him. He looks like a scared child desperately holding onto his father’s leg for safety. Hs agony and the amount of pain he is feeling are emphasized in this scene.

 

We get a small glimpse in the mind of Jesus by the use of quick cuts to the past. As Jesus is walking, in severe pain and agony, his mind takes him to a better place. The agitated crowd is throwing things and cursing at him, but Jesus is remembering a time when the people of Jerusalem praised him and openly loved him. He flashes back to his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. We get a small vision, twice, from Jesus’ point of view as he’s riding a donkey through the streets. His people lay palms at his feet and smile at his arrival. Jesus is trying to mentally return to a time of peace, without pain and suffering. The palm scene is a story told and praised every Palm Sunday in worship. The people of Jerusalem were overjoyed upon his arrival, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9).  This works well to compare how Jesus’ people turned their backs on him.

Two other predominant characters are shown throughout the whole scene. We get a clear picture of their mentality and approach as they both follow Jesus. The camera cuts from Jesus to Mary and to the hooded figure, Satan. Mary and Satan watch each other slowly from other sides of the crowd, as they both follow Jesus, as he’s carrying the cross. Mary looks at Satan in concern and possibly an understanding of who he is and Satan looks at Mary in a daring, taunting, and provocative manner. Mary’s gaze is a fearful one and yet one of utter disgust.

When Jesus is hung on the cross, Mel Gibson truly does not leave one detail out of the whole process. Jesus is clearly beaten and whipped on every exposed inch of his skin. The look of agony on his face is heart wrenching. I think because we are so used to the portrayal of the story of the crucifixion in most movies, we assume after Jesus was hung on the cross, he immediately died and was taken to Heaven. In the bible there are a few contradictions pertaining to the exact time and amount of hours, but after careful consideration and speculation by many, it was come to some sort of conclusion that Jesus hung from some part of the morning until late afternoon.

“Mark says he was crucified in the third hour which could mean for him sometime in the late morning, leading up to noon. John says Jesus was tried by Pilate at about the sixth hour (or a bit earlier since he did not have a Timex to confirm the exact time) and was straightaway crucified. This puts Mark and John very close, even overlapping. So, Jesus was on the cross from possibly late morning or almost noon until the ninth hour, or about3 PM” (Steve Ray).

Mel Gibson does a wonderful job in reminding his audience that there was a significant amount of time that Jesus remained alive and in agony upon the cross.  He shows the passing of time by fading from a long distance shot of the mountain to a foggy sky. We watch the clouds for a short time and then cut back to Jesus’ agony with two quick cuts.  These cuts allow us to get a sense that time is passing, quickly for us, but slowly for Jesus. Gibson cuts from clouds to Jesus, giving us a sense of God’s presence watching over his son. We all seem to be waiting for his intervention as we keep getting shots of Jesus’ face in anguish. Jesus looks up at the sky in waiting with the audience. The shots of the sky could be Jesus’ point of view. We see his blood dripping down the post; he’s losing a lot blood, any moment now God should be here. These scenes are building the suspense to his arrival. We are waiting in distress, with Jesus, for it to end. Close up shots of his eye, the only eye that remains open, gives us his state of mind. He seems fearful, his eyes looking from the ground to the sky. Where is his father? We fade back to the sky, still awaiting God’s arrival. A group of soldiers are amusing themselves by playing a game at the feet of Jesus. We get a God-like shot from above the cross down at the soldiers as thunder begins to strike, calling the attention of some of the soldiers. God has arrived.

 

"How Long Was Jesus on the Cross" By Steve Ray

http://www.catholic-convert.com/wp-content/uploads/WhatTimeCrucified.pdf


The Music of Jésus de Montréal

April 25, 2012

Not all the music, obviously….

But the duet of soprano and alto during the opening titles and the closing credits: what are they singing?

What they are singing in the church during the opening titles is the Inflammatus movement from the Pergolesi Stabat Mater (1736).  The Stabat Mater is a hymn sung, traditionally, during Lent, with words beginning “Stabat mater dolorosa” (the sorrowful mother stood), and describing the Virgin Mary during the crucifixion of Jesus.

The words to this movement are: Inflammatus et accensus, Per te, virgo, sim defensus, in die iudicii. [In flames and on fire, may I be defended by you, O virgin, on the day of judgment.]

The same singers are shown at the end of the film, singing now as buskers in the Montreal subway station where we had last seen Daniel as a conscious human being.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They are singing…the very next movement of the same Pergolesi Stabat Mater.  The words here are: Quando corpus morietur, fac ut animae donetur, paradisi gloria. [When this body dies, grant that my soul be given the glory of paradise.]

You can listen to the Pergolesi Stabat Mater on Youtube.  The relevant file is

Start at 3.25 for the Inflammatus.

Start at 5.35 for the Quando corpus.

 


The Life of Brian – Terry Jones

April 25, 2012

The Life of Brian caused quite a controversy upon its release to the public.  The film was even banned in several countries for it was thought to be blasphemous and out to mock the suffering of Jesus.  However that is not what the film sought out to do, it was not intended to destroy anyone’s faith.  The film did take a satirical approach to the Jesus tale but it does not blasphemously criticize the God that Christians and Jews worship.  However it does criticize the practices of modern organized religion making the film heretical and obviously satirical, but not it is in no way blasphemous.  The scene on the Mount when Jesus, played by Kenneth Colley, addresses the Beatitudes does not depict Jesus in a way that mocks the biblical figure (6:47).  On the contrary Jesus is played straight and portrayed with respect.  Colley does not speak in a satirical manner in this scene, he speaks sincerely and with conviction.  Even the music and lighting of the scene convey the importance of Jesus’s character. The scene opens with music that is strong and powerful as the camera pans up the hill to where Jesus stands.  When Jesus does appear he is the central figure and there is a light that surrounds him that shows the genuine aura around him (7:28).  This scene in a way confirms that the films intention was a blasphemous one but rather a satiric social comment on modern religion pratices.  The director, Terry Jones, described it best when he was quoted saying: “the film is not blasphemous because it does not touch on belief at all.  It is heretical, because it touches on dogma and the interpretation of belief, rather than belief itself”.  The scene in the film after  Brian has just spends the night with Judith shows the films motive in commenting on the practice of modern religion (16:15 Part II).  The crowd hangs on Brian’s every word and blindly worships the mistaken Messiah.

The most obviously controversial scene is what a doubt the crucifixion in the ending of the film.  This scene could be interpreted as mocking Jesus’s suffering because the film treats it in a very casual way.  For instance when Brian is captured and incarcerated by the Romans he turns to one of his fellow cellmates and asks what will happen to him.  The cellmate replies “Oh, you’ll probably get away with a crucifixion” and this gives the audience the impression that the punishment was not  is not that bad; as if that is not the worst thing that could happen.  Another example would be the the moment right after Brian is crucified and one of his fellow suffers turns to him and says “See, not so bad once you’re up!” (35:25 Part II)  Again the intention is not to be blasphemous but rather to use this sarcastic telling of Jesus’s story to comment on how modern religion glorifies and turns the crucifixion into an icon.


Jesus De Montreal

April 25, 2012

Jesus De Montreal

What made Jesus De Montreal successful despite a few problems that irked me: hollow and over the top caricatures representative of some vapid “modern” world (an inherently dishonest critique because of its simplistic representation of modern times and people), use of cheap and out-of-place 80’s rock riffs during scene transitions (tonal incongruities), and a rather bland filmmaking style (one of the few imaginative scenes/shots — “end of the universe” was derivative: Ray’s Rebel Without a Cause (I also admired the effective dramatics of the train passing by during Daniel’s collapse, and also, the closing shot.) was the strength of the concept—the staging of a modernized Passion play based on newly discovered information about Jesus’s life—and the political ramifications and difficulties such a production would face.

That conceit and the inevitable ensuing dramatics alone could have carried the film, but in addition to the Church’s reaction writer/director Denys Arcade also layered the film with a critique of a modern, consumerist, image obsessed society. By also positing in the film an argument against Jesus as a product, a carefully crafted, and heavily protected image. One protected by the Church higher-up’s (whom we never see) those that—to protect their product— demand modification, then outright cancellation of the play. This aspect of the film is told subtlety, and only alluded to briefly (its relation to Jesus, at least); the importance of image and its relevance to the Christ narrative is in its parallels to Daniel’s experience and his incompatibility with the modern world. The church has resigned itself to offering “happiness”—to give the miserable something to soothe the suffering. Actual meaning—a deep and true meaning—is not the objective. It’s about the selling of the product: Jesus as a source of salvation, an abstraction, not as a man. Arcade’s film encourages us to consider how it parallels modern advertising: drink the beer, get the beautiful girl— believe in Jesus, get eternal salvation. They both distort the truth to manufacture a desire that supposedly only their product satisfies. And any individual or idea that challenges that assertion (humanizes Jesus) is bad for business— and the Catholic Church is big business. And as Father Lecierc says in the film—“Institutions live longer than men”— and this institution: the Catholic Church, has Jesus trademarked.


The Last Temptation of Christ

April 24, 2012

In The Last Temptation of Christ, Jesus Christ is depicted as the prominent figure he is, but also a relatable character. He often seems conflicted about his identity as the son of God. For instance, he asks himself “What if I say the wrong thing? What if I say the right thing?”. This example strives to portray Jesus as a relatable character to anyone. Jesus wonders if his decisions and choices should be for the good of humanity, which leads him to wonder if his daily decisions and choices will possibly be monumental. Although ordinary men and women may not face quite the same dilemma, they are still faced with the factor of personal morality in their decisions. In essence, even the smallest decisions could eventually become fundamental.

The role of Jesus can also be thought of as one where he rises to the occasion to become the messiah. Although he often tries to convince others and even himself that he is a simple man, he recognizes that he is much more than an ordinary man He explains “Today and tomorrow I cast out demons and work cures. On the third day, I will be perfected.” In articulating the process he will be going through, Jesus recognizes the path to becoming the messiah.

Although Jesus is also tempted by the life of an ordinary man, he continuously follows the path he has been confined to by destiny. At last he begs to be the son that God wanted. Possibly best summed up in the following lines, Jesus states that “If I was a woodcutter, I’d cut. If I was a fire, I’d burn. But I’m a heart and I love. That’s the only thing I can do.”


The Passion of the Christ

April 24, 2012

Carla Pennolino

The Passion of the Christ Response Paper

            The Passion of the Christ (2004), directed by Mel Gibson, is a movie that depicts the last twelve hours of Jesus’ life. Jim Caviezel plays the role of Jesus Christ. The movie opens with the “Agony in the Garden” scene and ends with a brief depiction of his resurrection. Flashbacks of Jesus’ childhood and other important scenes throughout Jesus’ life, before the garden, are depicted throughout the movie as well.

I think it is interesting that Gibson tries to put a modern twist on an ancient story. Although the graphics, costumes, etc. are modern, the film is in Latin (translated be William Fulco), a dead language. The story is modern, but the language is ancient; this can confuse the audience.

I, for one, was confused as to why, if Gibson was going for a modern twist, he has the actors and actresses speak in Latin. Gibson believed that if the movie were in a modern vernacular, “it makes you want to stand up and shout out the next line, like when you hear ‘To be, or not to be’ and you instinctively say to yourself, ‘that is the question.’”

After reading this quote from Mel Gibson, it was easier to understand just why he chose to integrate modern and ancient ways. The story of Jesus’ crucifixion has been told so many times in so many different ways that, at times, it becomes almost cliché. Gibson tries to break away from this cliché, making the Passion of the Christ a groundbreaking and successful film.

One of the most sentimental scenes in the movie is the “Whipping Scene (Third Day). Gibson portrays Jesus in chains, emaciated and a mess. He portrays the Romans as ruthless, insensitive barbarians who are laughing about Jesus’ condition. When Jesus’ garments are removed, it is chilling to see the open wounds all over his body. The Romans are extremely rough when chaining Jesus down and even go as far as testing if the whips are “good enough,” laughing the entire time. One can see the hurt, pain and hatred in Jesus’ eyes when he looks up at them. As they are stretching and preparing for the violence, Jesus stands there without a fight. As he utters: “My hear is ready, Father…,” one cannot help but feel the pain and strength flowing through his body. It is disturbing to see how much force is behind the whipping and Jesus convulsing in pain. As the other Romans look on, one cannot detect an ounce of sympathy from any of them. Their stares are cold.

When Jesus stands back up after falling from being whipped, the Romans look on with anger and grab chains with spikes attached instead of whips. Jesus is in so much pain and his family and friends look on, petrified and crying as the Romans laugh as his misery and pain. The scene ends with Jesus laying on the floor in his own pool of blood, exhausted and wounded beyond belief.

This scene is modern twist on the ancient scene. No other movie depicted this scene in all its goriness. As well as being groundbreaking, it is heart wrenching. Gibson helps his audience understand the real, un-denying “passion” behind Jesus’ last twelve hours, hence the movie title.

 


The Last Temptation of Christ

April 19, 2012

“Father in heaven father on earth the world that you’ve created that we can see is beautiful but that the world that you created that we can’t see is beautiful too. I don’t know I’m sorry father I don’t know which is more beautiful.” This quote taken directly from the movie which came from the mouth of Jesus himself, illustrates in entirety the character of Jesus in this film. Here Jesus is basically professing his uncertainty about life, gods will for him and the temptations that he encounters. Many of the other films reviewed in the class where films where Jesus held true to his being for God. They were strong in their beliefs and knew what needed to be done whereas, in Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ”, Jesus is clearly torn between his own knowledge, desires and that of which God has willed for him. Jesus is characterized by both divine nature and human nature. He is both man and God. He is the Jesus of a fallen society and with that his humanistic nature is just as prominent as his divine. This is displayed by both the director’s incorporation of Jesus’ internal thought as well as his human behaviors one primarily being aggression.  

Some other examples of human nature that are seen in the film are Jesus’ experiences with doubt and confusion. An example that is that brought up in the movie when Jesus says “I used to choose love but now I choose this”, in which he raises the axe. Even a little but further in the film he says “Give me the axe not the cross let me die like this” yet says that love is the way that things can be changed. Here it is quite evident that he his conscious even his body seems to belong to the earthly world in which he is so tied to the axe, yet deep inside his heart belongs to the divine and it is why he falls back on the ideals of love.

Also there is the moment in the movie when Jesus pleads to the Lord:

 “Do I have to die?”

“Is there any other way?”  

            With this the viewer comes to witness Jesus’ doubt as well as his fears, something that all people feel. Furthermore, when watching this movie one can only relate to Jesus on his journey. He is a representation for all individuals finding their mission. There is often that struggle that exists within all of us where you don’t know what your destiny is or even how to go about the process of revealing it and even once it is sought how to go about fu-filling it and because of this I really enjoyed this film.

 


The Gospel According to Matthew – Pier Pasolini

April 19, 2012

Pier Pasolini retells the story of Jesus in his film version of the gospel of Matthew.  The film was shot with a cast of “non-actors” in locations in southern Italy and the dialogue was in Italian.  What I found the most fascinating about the film was that it made the retelling of Matthew’s gospel authentic; it was not overdone or made to look like a major Hollywood production.  Pasolini was a known atheist and I at first found it strange that he chose to make a film that dealt with religious themes.  Pasolini even incorporates a dedication to Pope John XXIII in the opening credits of the film (2:44) that reads, in English, dedicated to the dear joyous, familiar, memory of Pope John XXIII.  It is interesting that Pasolini who, in a broad sense, rejects the belief in dieties created film based on a biblical text.  With that in mind the film itself was very well done and I felt that Pasolini’s account of the gospel of Matthew had a very authentic quality.  The film opens with a close-up of the virgin Mary (2:52) and then moves to a close-up of Joseph.  The camera switches back and forth between the two and the audience soon discovers that Mary is pregnant, however the entire time the actors say nothing.  It is as if the characters of Mary and Joseph are communicating without having actually speak and this in a way makes the actors come across as real people as opposed to fictionalized characters.  Pasolini uses a kind of silent effect and it gives this scene a surreal quality but it also gives it a authentic quality as well.  The camera shots and the actors silence in the scene makes it seem like the audience is actually there watching this silence exchange between Mary and Joseph.

As previously stated, the cast was composed of hired amateurs and this also adds to the authenic quality of the film because the actors come across as real people.  The audience is not watching a well-known Hollywood actor performing the role of Jesus instead the actor is a nameless face; this allows the audience to not have any preoccupations of the actor’s performance.  Jesus’s character does not seem preoccupied with his own authority or status and I enjoyed how he was portrayed in this way.  In the scene when Jesus arrives at the baptism at Jordan River with John the Baptist (25:18).  He approaches the riverbank slowly and the actor maintains an expressionless look on his face.  Jesus remains silent as he walks closer to where John the Baptist stands and the audience can immediately see the change of expression on John’s face.  The camera again switches between a close-up shot of John the Baptist to a deep focus shot of Jesus.  John’s facial expression looks stunned and he seems to be in awe in the presence of Jesus.  Jesus does not make his status known to the people nor does he exert any authority; he speaks softly and humbly as he speaks to John the Baptist.  It is not until John baptizes Jesus and the voice of God is heard that the people learn of who Jesus is (27:19). 

 The film contains no special effects and the “miraculous” is shown is a very matter-of -fact and miminalistic way.  By not incorporating special effects and taking a more simple approach Pasolini emphasizes the meaning of the miracles more than the display.  The massacre of Innocents scence shows the Roman soldiers rampaging the village and slaughtering the male babies of Bethlehem (17:40).  The scene itself is not overly done; it does not contain and grusome or gory images.  However the scene is still powerful and distrubing as the audience watches the Roman soldiers rip the babies out of their mother’s arm and toss them into the air.  The scene contains only the actors and the props.  There are no special effects or edits made and yet the scene remains just as horrorific.  Special effects were not needed and by not incorporating any effects the film seems more realistic as if the audience is there at the village witnessing this scene.  The ending crucifixion scenes also are done in a simply way with no excessive gore and again it is not needed.  It directs the audience’s attention to the meaning of the event rather than to the display of it (2:2:34).  We are able to see the crucifixion from the point of view of Jeus’s mother which gives this scene a very relatable quality because we can sympathize with her.  I think by leaving out special effects and taking a more simple approach to the story adds to the authenticity of the film.


Samson and Delialah Response Paper 1

April 18, 2012

Samson and Delilah

The story of Samson and Delilah, as relayed in the Bible, has always been a powerful and compelling story.  In so much as it deals with power, lust, strength and redemption speaks a great deal to the human spirit as well as to the spiritual and moral corruption found in the pleasures of the flesh.  As to the nature of the tale and how it should be viewed, there are a number of interpretations.  Clearly, the grace and forgiveness of God are probably the most salient aspects of the tale.  However, given the intentions of the reader, there are any number of themes that could be isolated.  However, some are more defensible than others.  For while it is true that Samson’s strength, for instance, is very much like a super hero, and thus could be highlighted, there are other aspects of the story that lend themselves to a thin interpretation.  In particular, if one were to focus on, say, some love affair between Samson and the, as the Bible describes her, harlot Delilah, then this would be adding a great deal to the story that is simply absent.  And yet, one of the more popular themes is the one that is the least present; namely that of this ‘love’ between to the two.  One particular depiction of this is seen in the film Samson and Delilah, the 1949 production from Cecil B. DeMille.  One scene in particular captures the main interpretative theme of this, which is during Samson’s captivity by the Philistines.  Here in this paper, there will be an exploration of DeMille’s interpretation of this relationship and how this reflects his, perhaps not personal view but that which is expressed in the film, his vision of the story of Samson and Delilah. 

            Traditionally, the story of Samson and Delilah, which comes directly from the Old Testament in the Bible, is the story of a powerful warrior from the Hebrew nation that stands against the occupying army of the Philistines, that seek to enslave the Hebrew people.  As a child, Samson is viewed as special.  For God tells his parents that he will be a mighty champion for the Hebrew people.  The only condition is that he can not drink any wine or alcohol and his hair must never be cut.  In essence, he takes a Nazirite vow, as to set him apart from all the other Hebrews as someone special.  This special pact that is made between God and Samson is held throughout his youth. 

            The first signs of his strength are demonstrated when after receiving a wife from among the Philistines, in an attempt to garner peace between the two peoples, there is a fight.  For the family of the girl that Samson has chosen resents the fact that he is Hebrew.  As a result, they seek to attack him and take the girl back.  But in the fight his strength is revealed and he manages to kill many Philistines.  However, the girl is still taken.  And so, Samson’s mission is clear, to be a warrior for God as to fight against the Philistines.  And with his unnatural strength he is able to battle, single-handedly, hundreds of Philistines at a time. 

            However, seeing him as a threat the Philistines recognize the significant threat and so devise a plan to capture him.  They take into their confidence a harlot named Delilah, with whom Samson is smitten.  And so Delilah agrees to help the Philistines capture him.  Unfortunate for the warrior of God, Samson is taken into custody by the Philistines, beaten, his eyes gouged out and his hair cut.  His strength, which is in the length of his hair, leaves him and he is rendered helpless and at the mercy of his enemies.  However, while in prison, his hair grows back and so too his strength; while his captors are oblivious to this.  They take him to their temple as to display their prize to the Philistine people and in honor of their god Dagon.  However, Samson, as a last feat, tears down the temple killing more in his death than he ever had in his life. 

            The story seems to be clear and concise, as a warning against disobeying God and avoiding the lusts of the flesh.  However, movie producer Cecil B. DeMille felt differently.  He saw in the story a tale of love between Samson and Delilah that is not conspicuously, or arguably even mentioned, in the Biblical account.  The movie itself, while detailing much of what is relayed in the Bible, in many respects is accurate as to the original tale.  For, the events of his life are presented.  However, one event in particular seemed to suggest that there was more than mere lust in the heart of Samson.  For, the scene where Samson is in prison, blind and seemingly helpless, is visited by Delilah, an event that is not recorded in the Bible.  Furthermore, she explains that the two can run away together and they must go immediately before the prison guards come to take him to his doom.  However, he explains that, “I was blind before and now I can see (Samson and Delilah).”  Ultimately, DeMille’s interpretation of the story suggests that Samson has not merely lusted after the attractive harlot, but has fallen in love with her.

            The love is suggested in other scenes where the two are together in her tent.  They talk and share moments with one another.  And of course he shares more than he should as to the nature of his strength.  However, as to Delilah’s true feelings, no one can really be certain.  Most, after reading the Biblical account, simply assume that Delilah was merely using Samson as to do the bidding of the Philistines and receive some recompense for her deed.  However, in DeMille’s film, there is a sense that she is conflicted.  Indeed, the idea that she is feeling threatened by Philistine aggression suggests that she is in fear for her life, and not merely seeking material gain.  In fact, her genuine feelings for Samson is reinforced by the fact she is visiting him in prison.  This act demonstrates she is willing to risk her life.  In one part of the scene, she willingly puts herself in harm’s way by touching Samson and is in genuine danger when Samson picks her up and aims her body at the ground, ready to break her physically.  It is at this point she screams out, “Samson, your chains!  They are broken!  You have your strength back (Samson and Delilah)!”  There is an almost Romeo and Juliet theme of unrequited, or impossible love that endures in spite of specific social and political situations.  And so, DeMille’s interpretation of the Biblical story of Samson and his relationship with Delilah is one of true love, and not mere Hebrew heroism, holy redemption, or even God’s grace imparted to Samson.

            In conclusion, the movie Samson and Delilah, as a retelling of the story in the Bible, is one of true love and not one of God’s redemption and grace in virtue of His people.  This is not to say that these themes are not present in the film.  Indeed, they are impossible to avoid.  And while DeMille is clearly conscious of these aspects of the Biblical message of repentance and holiness, his view that the love of two people can survive even in the midst of inevitable and fatalistic events is established.  Specifically in the scene of Samson’s imprisonment where his beloved comes to express her love and hope for a life together, although Samson makes it clear his commitment to his God and his people, there is a brief and subtle, but nonetheless undeniable, demonstration of Samson’s true love for Delilah.  And so, DeMille’s interpretation of the story of Samson and Delilah, whether supported by tradition or scripture, is one of enduring and eternal love in spite of circumstance and outcome.

 


The Last Temptation of Christ – Lauren Roerden

April 18, 2012

Martin Scorsese’s film adaptation of the controversial 1953 novel by Nikos Kazantzakis was really very interesting.   I liked how Scorsese chose to take a risk by taking on the project of adapting a film version to Kazantzakis’s novel, but what I enjoyed about the film was that the Jesus character in this film was more relatable.  I felt that Willem Defoe portrayed a different kind of Jesus in this film where as in previous films the Jesus characters were more similar to eachother. I also really enjoyed how the audience was able to see things from Jesus’s point of view.  From the beginning Scorsese makes it known that the film avoids the familiar words of the gospel.  He includes a kind of disclaimer within the opening credits that reads “This film is not based upon the Gospels but upon this fictional exploration of the eternal spiritual conflict” (1:12).  I thought that it was a wise choice to include this statement within the opening sequence in order to make the audience aware that although this film does follow a typical Jesus story kind of plot it is meant to explore this “spiritual” conflict and the eternal battle that every individual struggles with when faced with temptation.  I also felt it was important to include this disclaimer because Kazantzakis’s novel was very controversial and undertaking a film adaptation of it was risky due to the fact that it will be controversial as well; by including this disclaimer in the beginning it helps the audience understand that it is not meant to offend the religion but to explore this notion of eternal and spiritual conflict.  The sex scene that takes place between Willem Defoe (Jesus) and Barbara Hershey (Mary Magdalene) would be the most obvious example of the controversiality of the film.  We discover as a result of Jesus suffering on the cross he hallucinates and this scene is just a figment of his imagination (Part II 46:59).   In our class discussion we had discussed who we are in relation to the film and that is what I really enjoyed about the film. I like how the audience is able to relate Jesus in the film rather than in previous films where the audience related to Judas or one of the disciples. We hear what he is thinking and we can relate to the struggle he experiences when he realizes that he has the realization that he has a specific purpose to carry out.  From the opening scene of the film the camera is up at tree level panning/tracking through the trees until it stops and Jesus is in view.  As first the camera is right above the sleeping Jesus and then it comes down to an angle where it would appear that we are standing right  above him.  It is as if we are silently following Jesus throughout the film and watching his journey.  What makes the audience relate to the character of Jesus in the film is the insight that we gain to his inner thoughts and feelings.  The beginning of the film also provides an example of this at 2:54 we hear Jesus describing the sensation of this divine possession; he speaks of the voices in his head that call him by name and how it begins to cause him pain as if these thoughts are clawing at him within his head.  We already begin to see Jesus struggles and the eternal conflict within him begin to set in.  At 4:38 when Jesus is visited in his hut Willem Defoe has a sad and somber look on his face in this scene.  His facial expressions are sad looking, his eyes are dull, and his body is hunched over.  This conveys that the eternal conflict is affecting him and beginning to take a physical toll on him as well.  By portraying Jesus in this way it makes his experience more relatable to the audience; relatable in the sense that at points everyone has experienced moments of eternal conflict that has had both emotional and physical effects.  At 5:46 we see this eternal battle begin to come to the surface as tears well up in Jesus’s eyes and these early moments in the film make the audience aware of this struggle and conflict that is occuring inside the mind of Jesus.  These early moments also what makes the audience relate to Jesus because we are able to relate to feeling confused, lost, and sad.  What is interesting about this film is Jesus’s insecurity in certain matters, for example when Jesus speaks to the people on top a hill after saving a young woman from being stoned to death.  As he leads the crowd up the hill and gets ready to address them we hear what he is thinking.  Before he speaks to the people he says to himself “God has so many miracles.  What if I say the wrong thing? What if I say the right thing?” (36:40) In other films Jesus always seems to sure and confident and that line that he thinks right before he speaks again makes his character more relatable.  By expressing some uncertainities that he may have gives him a more human quality.  In other films Jesus is portrayed in a super-natural kind of way; he is always sure and confident with unfaltering faith.  This insecure and uncertain Jesus that Willem Defoe portrays atop the hill allows the audience to connect more with the character and it makes it easier to for the audience to empathize with Jesus’s characeter.


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