Yesterday I was invited to Saddleback Church to preview the forthcoming movie Son of God, produced by the same people who created The Bible series for the History Channel last year, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, who were both present for the screening. I’d strongly recommend you put this on your list of movies to see when it releases on February 28th.
In terms of production value, it’s the best one of its genre. The Jesus Film pales in comparison, looking almost like a homemade movie compared to Son of God. The 1977 epic Jesus of Nazareth (over 6 hours long) was powerful for its time, but awfully hard to sit through. The Passion of the Christ, which, coincidentally, released exactly 10 years ago on Feb. 25, 2004, did not tell the story of the life of Jesus, but really honed in on the pathos of his final week. There really isn’t a modern day video retelling of the life of Jesus as good as Son of God. More flamboyant retellings, like The Last Temptation and Jesus of Montreal, really fall outside the mainstream and look more like a sectarian reinterpretation of the story.
The movie doesn’t stray far from the biblical narrative, though it fleshes out some of the narrative behind the Roman occupation, and it emphasizes the way Jesus was an offense both to Romans and Pharisees. Many of the lines are paraphrases of the words of Jesus and the biblical characters, but the movie isn’t indulgent in its adaptation. It leaves a lot out, but after two and a half hours, it would have been hard to meaningfully include more and still accommodate the modern attention span.