Life of Brian and the Jesus film were distributed by the same company to the same theatres at the same time.


Last year, I commented on the fact that there were two movies playing in theatres at the same time — Son of God and Noah — that both began with images of Eve plucking the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden: a moviegoer could see one film in the multiplex, then walk down the hall and catch the other film in the same theatre.

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Watch: Simeon and Anna in movies about the infant Jesus


Today, for many Christians, is the Feast of the Meeting (or Presentation) of Our Lord in the Temple. It commemorates the time when Joseph and Mary took Jesus to the Temple forty days after he was born, and there met Simeon and Anna, two old people who recognized the Christ child and made great predictions about his future.

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The Magnificat, and the politics thereof, in film

vlcsnap-2014-12-25-18h31m18s119Christ is born! Glorify him!

Fred Clark posted a really interesting item this morning, noting that “the true meaning of Christmas” can be found in a poem spoken by Mary not long after she learned that she was pregnant with the Son of God — and he notes that the poem in question has a significant political edge, in which the powerful are brought down from their thrones while the humble are lifted up, and the rich are sent away hungry while the poor are filled.

This got me curious as to how many films have actually reflected the edgier aspects of this poem, which is known as the Magnificat. And the answer is: not many. In fact, there are very few films that incorporate the Magnificat at all, and those that do usually cut out the more politically-charged stuff. Usually, but not always.

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Laurence Fishburne to play Melchizedek in The Alchemist?

laurencefishburneI’ve been doing a lot of research into films based on the book of Genesis lately, so I was intrigued to hear, via The Tracking Board, that Laurence Fishburne may play Melchizedek in an adaptation of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, which Fishburne himself is slated to direct.

I haven’t read the book, which concerns a Spanish shepherd who goes to Egypt, so I have no idea how closely the book’s Melchizedek corresponds to the Melchizedek of the Bible. But Wikipedia says the book’s Melchizedek is “the king of Salem”, which fits. It also says he gives the book’s protagonist “the magical stones Urim and Thummim” and that he wears “a gold breastplate encrusted with precious stones” — both of which sound like something we would normally associate with the Israelite priesthood, which didn’t exist until long after the biblical Melchizedek’s time.

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The Prodigal Son: three filmed interpretations (and more)

Today was the Sunday of the Prodigal Son in Eastern Orthodox churches, and once again, I found myself thinking about how our gospel reading for the day had been handled in different films.

The parable of the prodigal son appears just once in the Bible, in Luke 15, so of course it is featured in the word-for-word adaptation of that gospel produced by the Genesis Project in the 1970s. And just as the Genesis Project dramatizes some of the other parables while Jesus recites them, so too it dramatizes this one. You can watch the relevant sequence by clicking here.

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The Publican and the Pharisee: four filmed interpretations

Today, in Orthodox churches, was the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee. It’s the day when we read the parable that Jesus told about a Pharisee and a tax collector who went to the Temple to pray; while the Pharisee spent his prayer bragging that he was a great and righteous man, the tax collector begged for God’s forgiveness — and it was the tax collector, rather than the Pharisee, who “went home justified before God.” And so the parable reminds us that we need to pray in humility, and that it is not our place to judge our fellow human beings.

We read this parable on this day to remind ourselves that Lent is only a few weeks away, and that we should approach the season of fasting and prayer humbly, without judging our fellow churchgoers (or, indeed, anyone else). And, naturally, as I pondered this parable, I began to think about how it has been handled in film.

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