Jesus In the Movies: The Best Takes On the Greatest Story Ever Told
Although most people would recognize actor Jeremy Sisto from “Law & Order” or as Keri Russell’s thoroughly terrifying husband in 2007’s Indie breakout Waitress, he also accepted what was, perhaps, his most challenging role as Jesus in an acclaimed TV mini-series by the same name.
Now just in time for Easter, this memorable account of Jesus’s life, ministry and eventual death, which also stars Debra Messing (TV’s “Smash) and Gary Oldman (Oscar-nominated Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), is returning to gmc Good Friday.
Showcasing a more human side of our Redeemer than many productions have in the past, Sisto achieves an intriguing, relatable balance of the joys of Jesus’s time on earth, even as he wrestles with the weight of mankind’s salvation on his shoulders.
When making the movie, director Roger Young told Christianity Today, “I wanted to show Jesus as a real guy. What’s always missing from the films of Jesus is that he was a human being.” Even Sisto himself was determined not to view him as an “icon.” Rather, he wanted to portray him as someone who was “more human.” See it on gmc, Good Friday, March 29 at 8 pm et.
Jesus’s Story Through the Ages
Whether you’ve grown up in church or are relatively new to the scene, chances are you’ve seen at least one less-than-stellar take on Jesus’s life, death and resurrection.
Whether it’s bad acting, bad storytelling, bad theology or being left with the troubling sense that Jesus was a white suburban guy in sandals who just happened to save humanity, there’s plenty of quality cinema that helps bring His story told through the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to vivid life.
In 2004, Mel Gibson’s record-breaking but controversial box office hit The Passion of the Christ starring Jim Caviezel (TV’s “Person of Interest”) didn’t shy away from the gorier realities of Jesus’s death on the cross, while 1965’s The Greatest Story Ever Told was a game changer in a different sense. Utilizing lush, evocative cinematography, it was considered a pretty expensive flop when it first released, but strong performances, particularly from Max von Sydow as Jesus, have stood the test of time.
For many theological scholars, however, the reverent, six-and-a-half hour depiction of the life of Christ in Jesus of Nazareth is the proverbial gold standard, thanks to plenty of attention to detail. Often described as the greatest Jesus movie ever made, the soundtrack by Lawrence of Arabia composer Maurice Jarre is equally praiseworthy.
But for anyone who suffers from ADD or is wary of investing that much time watching, another engaging perspective is found in the moving one-man play, St. John in Exile.
Set during the persecution of thousands of Christians under Emperor Domitianus, John is dictating the Revelation when several Christians (the audience) are permitted to “visit” him. Now 86 years old and confined to live in a cave, John is portrayed as “tenaciously spry, strong in spirit and full of humor,” according to film critic Glenn Buxton.
Lastly, a couple final titles for your consideration. In what’s often been equally loved – and loathed – by critics and movie-goers alike, Cecil B. DeMille’s last silent production King of Kings gives a candid snapshot straight from the Gospels without any cringe-worthy dialogue, while 2000’s The Miracle Maker actually utilizes animation in a very resourceful way to highlight Jesus’s miracles and tenderness toward flawed humanity.
Now we’d love to hear from you. What are your favorite portrayals of Jesus on the big (or small) screen and why? And what films are a regular part of your Easter viewing?
Copyright 2012, watchgmctv.com. For permission to repost or reprint, click here.
About the Writer
After graduating with a B.S. in Journalism from North Central University in 1998, Christa Banister moved from Minneapolis to Nashville, Tenn. and eventually started working at CCM Magazine/Salem Publishing in various editorial capacities as an editor, columnist and website guru for five and a half years. After that, she launched her own Dallas-based freelance writing company and writes for numerous clients including Salem Publishing, Crosswalk.com (she reviews movies for them each week), Christian Single, Christianity Today, Threads Media, Songs4Worship.com, PassAlong.com and also helped kickstart the first Christian music blog for MTV. In addition, she also writes bios for professional recording artists and authors and penned her first two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers for NavPress.
News You May Also Like
It was my good pleasure to talk with Emmy award winning producer Lorenzo Minoli, who produced the Jesus mini-series for CBS, currently set for its gmc premiere on April 1 at 7 pm et. He also produced the TNT Bible series, which includes Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Samson & Delilah, David and the...
For Greater Glory, a movie which opened four days after the United States celebrated Memorial Day, is based on the true story of the long-hidden 1920s Cristero War in Mexico. Released by Arc Entertainment and directed by Dean Wright, For Greater Glory stars Andy Garcia, Oscar Isaac, Catalina...
Highlights Include the Premiere of the Original GMC World Premiere Movie The Carpenter’s Miracle, the Epic Movie Jesus, Bible Stories including Esther and Book of Ruth, Exclusive Episodes of ‘Heartland’ and a ‘Touched by an Angel’ Marathon ATLANTA -- March 8, 2013...
Download of the Week
Pivotal scenes in a movie are even more exciting and inspiring with great music. Listen and download a song from the...