Most Jesus films tell a coherent story, or at least they try to: either they are based on a single gospel, or they try to “harmonize” the gospels by including certain story elements while omitting others. One film, however, makes a point of underlining the differences and even contradictions between the four canonical gospels.
The film in question is Su Re (aka The King), an Italian — or, rather, Sardinian — film that premiered at the Turin Film Festival in 2012 and then played at the Rotterdam festival in 2013. Written and directed by Giovanni Columbu, the film aims to challenge popular conceptions about the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus, partly by telling the story from four different points of view, just as the gospels do — a technique that the Rotterdam festival’s website compares to Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon.
Interestingly, while the film keeps the four gospel accounts distinct from one another — possibly even by using a different cinematographer for each gospel (at any rate, four cinematographers are listed in the credits, which is unusual) — it does allow its depiction of all four gospels to be influenced by a fifth text, from the Old Testament.
The blurb on the Rotterdam festival’s website says the actor who plays Jesus “was chosen to match the Biblical description that he was ‘the most unworthy among men’.” Similarly, a review in The Hollywood Reporter notes that the film begins with a voice-over that says, “He didn’t have the looks or beauty to charm.” These quotes are taken from the ‘Suffering Servant’ passage in Isaiah 53, which Christians have been applying to Jesus ever since Philip met the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8.I have not yet seen the film myself — in fact, I only became aware of it a few weeks ago — but I would like to some day. Alas, although it played with English subtitles in Rotterdam (or so one gathers from The Hollywood Reporter’s review), the only DVD that seems to exist so far is a Region 2 disc with subtitles in Italian.
Two trailers and four clips have been posted to the film’s Facebook page. The shorter trailer is also viewable at Vimeo, and the clips were also posted to YouTube — but because of a copyright claim, the YouTube audio track has been muted:
You can also watch some behind-the-scenes footage here:
I got most of these links from my friend Matt Page, who wrote about the film last week. He also found this hour-long presentation by Columbu and Jesus-movie scholar Lloyd Baugh — though again, it appears to be entirely in Italian:
If I find any more clips or trailers, I will add them to this post.