JESUS (1999)

"Not the Best Representation of Christ"

Quality:
Content: -1 Discretion advised for older children.
NoneLightModerateHeavy
Language
Violence
Sex
Nudity

What You Need To Know:

In JESUS, a Messiah is presented who seems unsure about when He is to begin His ministry. It isn’t until His mother, Mary, gives Him a loving, yet firm push does He go forth in power. Perhaps most disturbing fact is that Mary, the sister of Martha, is in love with Jesus and wants to marry Him. The quality is good, but not great. Most of the costumes are well done and convincing, as is the acting.

Despite numerous historical inaccuracies, the movie does a good job showing the difficult burden placed upon Jesus as well as trying to show the difficult concept that, as God He knew all things, and yet as human His knowledge expressed limits. The relationships between the disciples are well done. The movie does a wonderful job of showing the corruption in the Temple as well as Jesus’ justifiable anger toward this. In short, JESUS gives an interesting perspective into the lives of Jesus and His followers and does a good job of interpreting key Biblical accounts. However, it has many inaccuracies that detract from the overall story.

Content:

(CCC, BBB, Ab, VV, S, NN, A, M) Christian/Biblical worldview and morals with plenty of extra biblical speculations and detail changes that detract from the true story; no foul language, crude humor about man’s gas; bombs explode near men but only silhouettes are seen, multiple men stabbed, on one instance men are seen lying in blood, two beheadings, not graphic, mans throat is slit, no blood is seen, woman is burned at the stake, large nail is seen hammered into Jesus’ wrist, some blood is seen, man is whipped, not graphic, nail hammered into foot is seen from a distance, man hangs himself; implied sex, two men kiss on lips though not sexually; woman dances in a lightly sensual manner while revealing some cleavage, upper rear female nudity, harlot is seen dressing from the side, breast is briefly visible, multiple men are seen wearing loincloths; some alcohol use, but not excessive; no smoking or drugs; man lies several times, man is betrayed for money, man steals money.

More Detail:

When doing a small or big screen adaptation of the story of Jesus, it is best to stick close to the text of the Gospels not only to avoid denominational and sectarian squabbles, but also to give the story its maximum dramatic impact. With the good news of the true story of Jesus Christ, less is more.

The CBS-TV production of JESUS, which was remastered by Turner Classic Movies for a DVD release, was produced by some committed Christians and directed by Roger Young, who directed TNT’s superb JOSEPH (and whom MOVIEGUIDE® interviewed years ago about his growing up in the Southern Baptist faith). The movie tries to give a contemporary slant to the Gospel story by adding some extra-biblical material. It is clear that the intention is to lift up an accurate portrait of Jesus, but the dramatization, and especially the extra-biblical material, diminishes that portrait.

In telling the story, this production has taken a cue from the MATTHEW video of the Visual Bible, making Jesus more playful, youthful and down to earth. In the process, they seem to have diminished the tension of him being fully God as well as fully human, although it is clear that the program recognizes Jesus is the Messiah, His miracles are unique, pronounced and definitive, He is the Son of God, His passion reflects His divinity, and His death culminates in His Resurrection. Although the Resurrection is portrayed as totally real and not to be confused with just a memory or an ethereal ghost or a reflection on Jesus’ life, one line of extraneous dialogue undermines the magnificence of the beauty and reality of the resurrection scene when Jesus says that he will “be with them in their memories.”

Thus, although this is an orthodox and faithful production, it fails to find a completely clear line through the Gospel story. Much like the accents in the movie which often conflict (with Scot crashing against American English and other regional dialects), the contemporary Hollywood entertainment desire to let it all hang out fails to keep the story on course. This diminishes the movie’s power.

Happily, the story gets to the orthodox truth in the end, but there are bits and pieces that will aggravate the more critically inclined in the audience. This is sad. Clearly, everyone involved with the production wanted to put forth that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

The quality is good, but not great. Most of the costumes are well done and convincing, as was the acting. The audio is occasionally unstable, but not long enough to be too distracting from the movie.

Perhaps the fact that this was an Italian/German/English production caused the confusion, but there have been such productions before that have had a steadier hand at the helm, and evidently something distracted the director from his necessary task.

MOVIEGUIDE® would like to give JESUS a Plus Four rating. After all, it is about Jesus and it does lift Him up, but the production’s little glitches make it hard to do just that.

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