A few quick items about three recent and upcoming movies about Jesus.
I must confess, I kind of missed the first season of Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery when it aired on CNN two years ago. At the time, I was writing quite extensively about National Geographic’s Killing Jesus and NBC’s A.D. The Bible Continues, and there just wasn’t time to follow a third program as well, as intriguing as it seemed.
Three quick items about TV shows with a religious hook that are now in development.
Last Friday, the Aussie worship band Hillsong United released a new music video for a song of theirs that will appear on the soundtrack for The Shack. As it happens, Hillsong had a movie of their own last year, and I have a DVD copy to give away. The disc includes the entire 103-minute documentary, called Hillsong: Let Hope Rise, as well as four bonus songs and almost 20 minutes of extra behind-the-scenes footage — and if you’d like to have it, you can send your name and mailing address to email@example.com by this Sunday, February 19. I’ll pick a winner at random next week. (The disc is coded for Region 1, so it will work on DVD players in the U.S. and Canada.)
The Passion of the Christ broke a few records when it came out thirteen years ago: to this day, it is the top-grossing “faith-based” film of all time, the top-grossing R-rated film in North America, and — because Mel Gibson insisted on keeping all the dialogue in Aramaic or Latin — it is also the top-grossing film in which all of the dialogue is spoken in a language other than English.
At the time, it was widely reported that Gibson was so committed to these ancient languages — and to keeping us focused on the visual and visceral experience of Christ’s suffering — that he thought about releasing the film without subtitles.
But in the end he relented — with one significant exception, namely the scene in which the Jewish leaders say that the blood of Jesus will be on their heads and on the heads of their children, a la Matthew 27:25. Because that verse has often been cited to justify anti-Semitism, and because many people were accusing Gibson and his film of anti-Semitism, Gibson decided to let that line go untranslated.