Newsbites: Koranic! Reaping! Sly! Gallup! Blood!

Time for a few more updates, methinks.

1. Never mind Saint Mary — it looks like a Koranic interpretation of the life of Jesus, also produced in Iran, is also out there. Indeed, according to Matt Page, there might even be two such films.

One, Son of Mary (1998), was described five years ago at this German website as “zeigt aus Leben Jesu aus der Sicht des Koran”, or as Matt translates it, as “showing the life Jesus from the view-point of the Koran.” But the Encyclopedia Britannica and the All Movie Guide, via the New York Times, would seem to indicate that the reference to Jesus in this movie is allegorical at best:

An unlikely friendship between a young Muslim child and an aging Catholic priest forms the basis for this touching story. Moshen Falsafin plays a little boy whose mother died in childbirth. A good student who works hard to help his father, he is troubled by one thought — he does not know what his mother looked like. When the boy meets a priest (Rafik Dergabrilian) and expresses his concern, the cleric suggests the boy imagine his mother looked like his portrait of the Virgin Mary. Pesareh Maryam/Son Of Mary was the directorial debut of noted Iranian actor Hamid Jebeli.

More interesting is this comment at Matt’s blog:

Soon to be released is the Farsi movie, The Messiah, a movie about the life of Jesus Christ (according to the Qur’an).

Those who want further details can e-mail, youths [at]

Matt wonders how the filmmakers will deal with the customary prohibition on the depiction of Islamic prophets — an issue that you may recall came up in Egypt earlier this year when a Coptic screenwriter talked about making a life-of-Jesus movie.

DEC 11 UPDATE: Matt Page asks if this is the second movie.

2. reports that a new trailer for The Reaping — a horror flick starring Hilary Swank and AnnaSophia Robb, about a modern-day recurrence of the ten biblical plagues — is now up at the film’s official website. There is also another site which allows you to “smite” someone by e-mailing them a biblical plague. No, they aren’t even trying to hide the cheese factor here.

3. Infuze has posted an “exclusive transcript” of a “conference call” interview with Rocky Balboa star Sylvester Stallone.

4. The New York Daily News reports that, according to a new Gallup poll, Tom Cruise is the most-hated movie star in America, with as many as 34% of respondents saying they avoid his movies. That’s almost double the 18% who said they avoid movies that feature Angelina Jolie. Mel Gibson placed third with 15%.

5. Apocalypto and Blood Diamond — my personal favorite of the week’s new releases — both opened today, and both films begin with villages being raided and people being enslaved, as well as a character who hides something or someone in the ground and then has to make his way back to retrieve it or them.

What else do they have in common? The Hollywood Reporter, via Reuters, observes: “Two new movies in theaters boast grisly, disturbing violence that raises the question: Where is the line between violent and too violent?” The rest of the article is mostly about the making of Blood Diamond, but it’s worth a read.

6. Terry Mattingly has posted his latest thoughts on “the Passion playbook” at, springing off of this column by Mark Joseph; and Mark Moring at CT Movies worries that the apparent box-office failure of The Nativity Story and the concurrent rise of “contemporary Christian cinema” might send the wrong — possibly accurate, but still wrong — message to Hollywood (i.e., “We want more lame movies about our faith!”).

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  • Re: the representation of Jesus.

    I don’t know how Shi’ites regard the specific matter of the representation of prophets.

    But I do know that iconoclasm has been much stronger (and only ever official dogma) among Sunnis. The Shi’ites have never had a problem with representative art (Ayatollah Khomeini had a portrait of Muhammad in his room until the day he died). A Turkish friend suggests that this, plus the consequent stronger tradition in the dramatic and representational arts, is one reason (among many) why Iran has a world-renowned film industry, while none of the Arab nations do.

    By the by, this (attitudes toward iconoclasm and representation) is one of many ways that Sunni/Shiite cleaveages have an analogy to Protestant/Catholic ones within Christianity. I can think of at least two others: Shi’ites have a kind of hierarchy and magisterium (not as developed as Catholicism’s obviously … but it exists); Shi’ites have the more sacramental understanding of current life and have the concomitant rituals (they’re the ones who beat themselves bloody with swords to “offer it up”)

  • Very interesting — thanks!

    I wonder what the Muslim equivalent of Orthodoxy would be. 🙂