Friday, March 18, 2005
The movie, Gospel of John has been promoted for almost half a year in these parts people got complacent about it and conveniently forgot that it was already showing. A comparison with the earlier showing of Mel Gibson's The Passion cannot be avoided since both movies tackle the same subject but to dwell on it will be unfair to the people behind this film. The movie tackles one out of four Gospels, taking its script and story on this alone. Which is fine actually since the film takes a very intimate look at who Jesus is (of all His followers, John was the closest to Jesus) so what we are treated to are more of His teachings and preachings rather than his miracles. If you love talkies films then this one's for you. Another aspect you'd really love about this film is its attention to details. From the authentic costumes to the subtle special effects added to the background to simulate the villages, temples, and buildings some two thousand years ago in Judea. All of these were seamlessly integrated into the scenes. I personally like the way they portayed Jesus here as someone who loves to smile, laugh, and mean business at the same time. As opposed to earlier films (prior to Mr. Gibson's opus) which seemed to relish showing Jesus as a depressed individual who had no humor. Actor, Henry Ian Cusick's portrayal of Jesus was refreshingly different.
About the things I didn't like about this film was how the actors acted their parts. It wasn't convincing and it looked as if majority of them were just reciting their lines without going into character or at least internalizing their parts. They didn't flesh out their characters the way I imagined Peter, Andrew, Matthew, Mary, Martha, Pilate, Ananias, or Caiaphas would go around. It seems as if I was watching a school play, and a very elaborate one at that. In this aspect, Mr. Gibson's movie wins over this film. As I've researched and read on the film's official website, they got theater actors to play the roles. This is the film's weakspot and I think the director should have seen that coming and adjusted the roles properly. There were other details that could finely exist in theaters but looked ridiculous on film, like in one scene where the High Priests' messengers were confronting John the Baptist, the lines and creases on John's face were obviously make up and exaggerated at that. It wasn't present in his other scenes, just that one. But don't get me wrong, I liked this film and would rally behind it if it's wrongly attacked. But since they were on the path to recreating the story of John's Gospel, the least they should have done was to get the small details right. It's exactly those things that spell out the big difference.
* Check out also the review in Hollywood Jesus for more insightful reactions to this great movie.