Tuesday, March 11, 2014

"Son Of God" No "Passion"

     It is to the detriment of history that movie makers have a penchant for using the big screen to proffer their own interpretation of the past. So it is with the Christian-produced film, Son Of God. The producers of Son Of God, which primarily retells the story of Jesus of Nazareth's public life and crucifixion, seem to be comfortable taking more liberties with scriptures than the much more effective, Passion Of The Christ. For those familiar with scriptures, the variations of popular New Testament accounts of Jesus' life are significant in their lack of purpose in telling the story.
     The revision of history begins almost immediately with the scene of the Savior's birth, which includes a Joseph as young as the Virgin Mary. As any Sunday school participant or otherwise Bible-educated Christian knows, Joseph was quite an old man when he was commanded by the Angel of God to take Mary as his wife. There are several other key scriptural accounts which are given short-shrift by the film makers. One in particular is when Jesus tells Peter that he will deny him three times before the cock crows. In the movie, Jesus just says, "...by morning." The denials in the movie happen one right after another, where the scriptures are clear that Peter denied Jesus three times over the space of the entire night, and when he hears the cock crow he remembers Jesus' prediction.
     One of the most egregious repackaging of the scriptures in which the movie engages, is when Jesus walks out of the temple and bends down to speak to a small child and says, "Look at these stones. Not one will remain standing." In the scriptural account Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees and others inside the Temple. He states that He will destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. This is an important point because it is the foundation of Christianity, for Jesus is speaking about Himself and His resurrection, which is the fulfillment of man's salvation.
     Beyond the scriptural inaccuracies of Son Of God is the troublesome portrayal of Jesus. The movie Jesus, I thought, had an air of hubris about Him. When the Pharisees tried to verbally trap Him, and his response made them look foolish, movie Jesus displayed a self-satisfied smirk that smacked of arrogance and condescension.
     I do think Son Of God did a good job of portraying the political pressures that surrounded Pontius Pilate. He was the classic "pickle in the middle," caught between the Jewish religious leaders and Caesar. He could not allow himself to be held responsible for the Jewish uprising which the elders convinced him would happen if he allowed Jesus to live. A parenthetical aside; years after the death of Jesus, Pontius Pilate converted to Christianity and was executed for his faith.
     While I appreciate a big screen movie about the life of Jesus Christ, I fail to understand why key scriptural accounts must be sacrificed to the gods of artistic interpretation. In my opinion, changing scripture is a dumbing down of them for the sake of appealing to a contemporary audience. The film makers missed an opportunity to expose the scripturally uninitiated to an accurate account of the life and death of Jesus Christ. I think Son Of God is worth seeing, even with its inaccuracies, but I would recommend waiting until it is released on DVD and save the price of theater admission.

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