(Warning: This entire post is one big spoiler.)
I think this story would’ve been more effective (and less attacked) if the vision of a possible future had made up the majority of the film, instead of the entire film being… essentially a re-imagining of the life of Christ.
Clearly the intention with this story was to focus on the humanity of Jesus. I could totally appreciate that in the form of a vision of what his life might’ve looked like if he had come down from the cross and avoided the sacrificial death. An entire movie about the ripple effects of that decision would’ve made for a very compelling story. But instead this movie focuses too much on it’s own version of the gospels – with a lot of offensive results.
It’s interesting for this movie to be brought to my attention when it was, because my small group is currently doing a study on how the devil takes the truth and twists it just slightly so that it still sounds believable but now means something completely different. This film does contain a lot of things that you’ll find in the Biblical account of Jesus, but it’s mixed in with what the film writer thinks Jesus would’ve, or should’ve said. And in some cases it takes existing quotes of Jesus and changes the words just enough so that it means something very different, but still sounds totally right.
People without thorough existing knowledge of the Gospels will walk away from this movie with the information that…
1. Jesus was constantly plagued by the guilt of his own sins.
2. Jesus and John The Baptist didn’t know each other at all before Jesus’ baptism.
3. Judas was the first one to follow Jesus and was his closest friend.
4. Jesus renounced his mother.
5. Jesus incited a mob to storm the temple and then gave up halfway through. And…
6. Jesus asked Judas to betray him.
And you get the idea.
The truth is there are a lot of Jesus movies that I take issue with. This film doesn’t stand alone with the problems mentioned above. I find most Jesus films portray my Saviour as weak or take liberties with him that make me angry. It’s all just people looking for ways to express their curiosities about this mysterious and powerful person. That curiosity is a good thing. As people use the film medium to try to describe this person, or the impact that this person has had in their life, they will inevitably run into inaccuracies. Which is why I would strongly recommend reading the Gospels (Mathew, Mark, Luke and John) for the most historically accurate accounts of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
But anybody who’s ever wanted to see Jesus settle down and find himself a girl (and get his groove on) will enjoy the possibilities presented in this film. I should warn anyone considering this film as small group material that there is some boobage in it – and a bit of full frontal (because that’s how John The Baptist rolls). There are some interesting worship styles in this movie.
Side Note: I’ve seen some of Scorsese’s other films – this doesn’t have the same feel as most Scorsese films. I think I would’ve been more entertained if this movie had Robert DeNiro as Jesus and Joe Pesci as Judas. Or perhaps Joe Pesci as the guy who cuts off people’s ears – that would be hilarious!
PS: Keep an eye out for David Bowie.