"More Is Less"
What You Need To Know:
Although this is an orthodox and faithful production, it fails to find a completely clear line through the Gospel story. Various accents also clash, diminishing the story. The story gets to the Truth in the end, but there are bits and pieces which are going to aggravate the more critically inclined in the audience. This is too bad. Clearly, everyone wanted to put forth Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life.
(CCC, Ab) Christian worldview with some extra biblical details that diminish the story including a contemporary Satan & some flash forwards as well as a strange combination of sectarian doctrine such as Jesus being sprinkled in his baptism by John instead of immersed, a leaning toward antinomianism & an overall childlike portrait of Jesus which may confuse the fact that he was fully God & fully man, although the Resurrection is clear & the miracles are definitive.
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 Jesus Christ, less is more.
The CBS-TV production, JESUS, 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), 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 the 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, diminishing its power.
Happily, the story gets to the orthodox truth in the end, but there are bits and pieces which 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.
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 little glitches in the production make it hard to do just that.