Amazon’s ‘The Grand Tour’: What’s Up With the Giant Jesus (and John Paul II)?

Amazon’s ‘The Grand Tour’: What’s Up With the Giant Jesus (and John Paul II)? June 24, 2023

View of giant Jesus statue in Poland
Aerial view of the statue of King Jesus Christ in Swiebodzin Poland/Shutterstock

Eurocrash, the most recent installment of Amazon Prime Video’s The Grand Tour, sends semi-professional farmer Jeremy Clarkson, crash expert Richard Hammond and travel host/chef James May on a road trip behind the former Iron Curtain.

And there, they (or at least two of them), meet Jesus.

But first, some background.

What Is The Grand Tour: Eurocrash?

Here’s how Amazon Studios described it:

Jeremy, Richard and James have a problem. Every country they want to visit is either a trouble hotspot, or has banned them from entering. So instead, they head to Central Europe, on a road trip nobody has ever thought of, in cars nobody would ever dream of using.

This epic 1400-mile journey, in an outrageous Japanese Al Capone gangster car, a pickup that thinks it’s a convertible, and a 75-year-old American micro mini, takes them from Gdańsk in Poland through Slovakia, Hungary, on to their final destination of the stunning Lake Bled in Slovenia.

In Poland they cause havoc at a spectacular motor race featuring Soviet-made Formula 1 cars, before heading to the actual prison camp where the Great Escape took place. In Kraków they recruit, a famous Formula 1 world champion to the team, before heading to Slovakia to sample a stunning Eastern European hypercar, a hidden racing Škoda classic, and the world’s most advanced flying car.

With James as broken as the car he’s driving, the trio plus their new recruit head into Hungary, where for their troubles, they end up in a time loop and have to run the gauntlet of the world’s deadliest archers.

The team then make a dash for the finish line, which involves yet more peril in a spectacular Fast and Furious finale at a military airbase.

Why does James’s car keep moving itself as if by magic? Why does Richard’s car keep telling him he’s terrible in bed? Why does Jeremy’s car keep spouting chandeliers? Watch and learn, on the Grand Tour Road Trip that nobody has ever thought of doing….

And, the trailer:

So, About This Giant Jesus

As fans of this show — and the trio’s previous endeavor, the BBC’s auto-centric Top Gear — know, Clarkson, Hammond and May are long on snark and short on reverence.

So, when Hammond and Clarkson meet Jesus (May is having problems with his car, which is more like a fridge on skinny wheels), it goes about how you’d expect.

At least the trio’s semi-frequent outbursts of “Jesus!” or “Jesus Christ!” are, for once, not strictly blasphemy.

You already saw a bit of it in the trailer, but here’s a longer clip (until Amazon takes it down):

Is It Really the Second Tallest Jesus?

Properly, the Polish statue is known as Christ the King and was erected in 2010 in the western Polish town of  Świebodzin. According to inyourpocket.com:

Well, weighing 440 tonnes and standing 33 metres tall, the Polish Christ statue was quickly certified by the Guinness World Records folks as the tallest statue of Jesus in the world, though that claim immediately incited protest from the world’s many other imposing Saviour sculptures. Świebodzin’s Christ himself is technically shorter than the previous World Record holder – Rio’s famed Christ the Redeemer statue (39.6m tall) – but factor in his crown, and the mound and pedestal he stands on, and he easily dwarfs Rio’s Redeemer, with a total height of 51 metres.

But, as Clarkson points out from his Google search, it’s the second-tallest Jesus statue in the world, surpassed by one in Indonesia. And, here it is, called Jesus Blesses, or Christ Blessing:

From Fodors.com (as part of a list of other giant Jesus statues):

Swathed in clouds on a hilltop more than 1,000 meters above sea level, this statue in South Sulawesi, Indonesia, is another monument that once jostled for the crown of the Tallest Christ in the World.

The statue itself measures 40 meters (131 feet) from head to foot, which makes it considerably taller than the Polish version without its crown and pedestal.

Inaugurated in 2015, it’s a relatively new addition to the worldwide Christ collection, but already attracts hordes of curious visitors and religious pilgrims to this scenic mountainous region of Indonesia.

Pretty impressive, especially in a Muslim-majority country.

But Wait, There’s a Bigger One

Clarkson’s search may have been out of date. According to SmithsonianMag.com:

One hundred forty-three feet in height, Cristo Protetor (Christ the Protector) was completed on April 22.

It’s located in Encantado in Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul, a small locale of just roughly 23,000 people. Encantado may be tiny compared to the capital city, but it’s put itself on the map with the statue, which is now the tallest of its kind in the world—or not, depending on how you look at it.

Its sky-high rivals include Indonesia’s Jesus Buntu Burake (131 feet without pedestal) Poland’s Christ the King and Bolivia’s Christ of Peace (both 108 feet without pedestal or base). And of course there’s Christ the Redeemer (also 108 feet without pedestal, but a skosh shorter than Bolivia’s statue due to a different hairstyle.)

The article also says that it was entirely funded by donations.

However …

The race for the tallest Jesus is not over. From the same article:

According to the Times’ Stephen Gibbs, a 252-foot-tall statue called the Christ of Peace is currently being constructed in Mexico’s Ciudad Victoria. It will be designed by Mexican architect Fernando Romero, whose planned redesign of Mexico City’s international airport was canceled in 2018 amid political turmoil and accusations of corruption and construction fraud.

What Is the Meaning of the Race for the Biggest Jesus?

All the statues do stand as a visual reminder that Christ is King of the Universe. Of course, one can argue that the time and money could be better spent elsewhere, especially because these statues seem to pop up in countries that have major economic and social challenges.

Perhaps, though, that is where they’re needed the most.

It’s an old and worthy debate, and likely one that won’t be settled anytime soon. But inspiration can come in many strange ways.

John Paul II and Formula Easter

In one segment of Eurocrash, Clarkson and Hammond arrive at a Polish racetrack, formerly the home of something called Formula Easter.

Properly called the Union of Soviet Socialist Race Series, the ’70s-’80s racing circuit featured locally made Formula 1-style race cars from Soviet Bloc countries, racing each other. Considering the state of faith in the Soviet sphere, the name is probably more a reference to the Eastern Bloc than the holiday.

Apparently Clarkson is either too tall or too porky to fit in one of the cars, but Hammond gets to race. That turns out about as well as you’d expect.

The Papal Connection

Anyway, Clarkson’s narration points out that the Formula Easter drivers had limited resources. He even claims that “the Polish team was so hard up that motorsport fan and fellow Pole Pope John Paul II had to buy their helmets.”

I couldn’t find anything online to corroborate that, but it does sound like something Saint John Paul II would do.

Parental note: unlike Amazon’s unbleeped, f-word-riddled Clarkson’s Farm, The Grand Tour is a little more family friendly (some profanity, but milder, with the odd f-word bleeped out), but it still rated 16+, more for the odd double-entendre than sex or violence (there isn’t any).

Image: Shutterstock

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About Kate O'Hare
Based in Los Angeles, Kate O'Hare is a veteran entertainment journalist, Social Media Content Manager for Family Theater Productions and a rookie screenwriter. You can read more about the author here.
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