John the Baptist coming to a theatre near you?

John the Baptist coming to a theatre near you? December 1, 2006

CanWest News Service, via the Vancouver Sun, posted yet another item on The Nativity Story today, and mentioned in passing:

The Nativity Story, which chronicles the arduous journey of Joseph and the pregnant Mary to Bethlehem, cost more than $65 million US to make, and producers Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen are confident it’ll reap huge dividends when it opens today on 2,700 screens throughout North America.

“I do think there is a desire for this kind of entertainment out there,” Godfrey says.

“I concur,” adds Bowen, who says he’s now working on a new film about John the Baptist.

A whole movie about John the Baptist (or Baptizer, or Forerunner, or whatever one’s tradition is inclined to call him)? Wow. If The Nativity Story is a prequel to The Passion of the Christ (2004), then this could be a sequel to the prequel, or a spin-off, or something — kind of like how The Scorpion King (2002) was a prequel to a sequel to a remake of The Mummy (1932).

I jest, of course. If this project was done right, it could be really interesting. John the Baptist seems to have been a bigger deal to his fellow Jews at the time than Jesus was — he certainly gets more ink in the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus, who was born not long after John’s death — and non-Christian followers of John could apparently still be found in such far-flung places as Ephesus, years after John was executed. Jesus even got out of a trap that his enemies tried to set for him by invoking the memory of John.

I have long been intrigued by the way the gospels depict John as a man who foretold the coming of the Messiah, yet had his doubts when he was thrown into prison and began to wonder if that former disciple of his, i.e. Jesus, was really the one that he had been waiting for. There is room for some real poignancy there.

So this is a story that I have long wanted to see. I can only hope that the people involved in telling it will do a good job.

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