Sunday, March 16, 2008
Reflections on BBC's "Passion" (Updated)
I just finished watching the BBC Passion movie (see Mark Goodacre for news and summaries). My reactions are mixed. Overall, I thought it was okay, very dramatic, good direction, plot moves quickly, and it draws you in. It tries to set the political and religious scene of Judea more than your average Jesus film. I was glad that in the temple cleansing/demonstration someone does raise a legitimate question to Jesus that the money changing was a convenience and not necessarily a con. Also the issue of the Roman possession of the high priestly vestments was a good topic to bring out too for audiences to highlight the kind of non-military influence the Romans had over the High Priest. But I was not impressed by the association of Joseph of Arimathea with the High Priestly family (where did that come from?). The endless references to the "kingdom of God is within you" over emphasizes a minor Lucan theme and the constant "look in your heart" soon became nauseating. Probably most controversial (and I advise Paula Fredriksen not to watch this film as it will only make her mad) is that it sets purity over compassion when it comes to Jesus and the Law. There is an (apocryphal) scene where Jesus goes into the temple and instead of offering a dove in sacrifice he sets it free. He also says that he believes in "sacrifice but a different kind" (the author of the Gospel of Ebionites would have loved it and perhaps also the author Hebrews too, but "it ain't how it was"). On the whole I'd call it's portait of Jesus rather Borgesque. I look forward to the next installment.