The Gospel is
so compelling that people flock to churches that preach it and shun
those that don’t. It has given life to billions since the death and
resurrection of our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ.
Now, it is
coming to the big screen in a manner worthy of the greatest story ever
told. THE GOSPEL OF JOHN is the best big budget movie about Jesus
produced up to this point, and it is the word-for-word Gospel itself.
In the golden
age of Hollywood, there were several big budget Jesus movies of renown,
including THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD, KING OF KINGS, and many others.
However, in the last 20 years, there have been very few productions of
the Gospel, and those that occurred were either small budget, like THE
JESUS FILM ($6 million), or THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW (less than $1
million), or they were blasphemous, like THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST.
Now, for the
first time in at least one generation, there is a beautifully filmed,
well-executed, wonderfully acted big budget production of the Gospel. I
personally went into the screening thinking, "Oh oh, this will be just
another Christian film; it was not. Produced by Garth Drabinsky, this
Gospel movie has been done with care, love and attention to the demands
of dramatic entertainment, and yet with not one word added or one word
taken away from the Gospel account.
This movie is
so gripping that at one point during the press screening, a reporter
said, "If I watch much more of this, I’m going to become a Christian."
Other movies, such as THE JESUS FILM, have used only part of the Gospel,
70% in that case, and the producers augmented it in order to enhance the
drama of the movie. The director and writer of THE GOSPEL OF JOHN have
found a way to present the story in a compelling fashion without
diminishing or embellishing it.
there are several more Gospel movies coming out in the near future, such
as THE PASSION, a powerful story of the passion of Christ; THE GOD MAN,
produced by a former ABC Television executive, which is one of the best
scripts I’ve ever read; THE LAMB, which is one of the most authentic
approaches to the Gospel; and, THE NEW JESUS FILM, which covers the
story from Creation to Revelation.
asked one of the Executive Producers why there were so many films on
this topic produced by Hollywood insiders. They answered that MOVIEGUIDE®
has shown them that this is what the audience wants, because the more
Christian content a movie has, the better it will do at the box office.
GOSPEL OF JOHN is not one of those movies you have to bring friends to
and endure simply because you want to support Christian movies. It is a
movie that will entertain you and have you praying that everyone will
want to see it, so that God will move on their hearts to bring them into
extremely grateful that, since we started MOVIEGUIDE® and the Christian
Film and Television Commission™, we’ve gone from one movie with strongly
positive Christian content to 45% of the movies released. The movies
with negative Christian content have practically disappeared, and there
are more films about Christian heroes—like LUTHER and BONHOEFFER—and
more films about Jesus than ever before. THE GOSPEL OF JOHN is the story
of the Century, and we need to promote it from the housetops.
Review: The Gospel of John
Henry Ian Cusick, Daniel Kash, Stephen Russell, Richard Lintern, Scott
Handy, and Christopher Plummer as the Narrator
Garth H. Drabinsky and Chris Chrisafis
PRODUCERS: Sandy Pearl, Joel B. Michaels, Myron Gottlieb, and Martin
The GOSPEL OF
JOHN is the greatest story ever told in the most powerful language of
Century. It is an inspired presentation of the Truth which will delight
people of all ages.
ago, the Visual Bible undertook the task of translating the Bible word
for word, book for book, into the movie idiom of Hollywood. The first
attempt was the Gospel of Matthew, which was a worthwhile production,
though produced on a low budget. The next was Acts of the Apostle, which
was again hobbled by a low budget.
Bible has been refinanced and has produced a spectacular, well-directed,
well-acted, word for word version of the Gospel of John. In fact, the
movie is so good that the Toronto International Film Festival has
selected THE GOSPEL OF JOHN to have its world premiere at this year’s
nothing is added to the biblical text, or taken away from it, the
scriptwriter, John Goldsmith a committed Christian, has done a superb
job of staging and setting the story in such a way that is constantly
compelling. The lead is a Shakespearean actor, Henry Ian Cusick who
gives an authoritative and yet warm and endearing portrayal of our Lord
Jesus. The casting is much more Middle Eastern than any of the movies
that have gone before, although not all the actors are Semitic. The
historical details are accurate and faithful. In places where there
could be debates, the filmmakers have wisely chosen to go with the
authoritative and more literal and orthodox interpretation.
THE GOSPEL OF
JOHN brings the John’s Gospel alive in a powerful, profound way. For the
first time in this reviewer’s memory, it becomes clear why Jesus and his
Jewish followers were at odds with the Jewish establishment. Watching
Jesus throw down the gauntlet of His messianic claims in the face of the
Pharisees and Sadducees will clearly call people into the Kingdom of
God. There is no ambiguity here. This is Jesus, the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true
God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father, who
is the Messiah.
several other Jesus films coming out soon. They all have their wonderful
strengths, but what THE GOSPEL OF JOHN does is portray the Gospel in an
unadulterated fashion and in the process clearly shows the victory of
the Resurrection. For the first 300 years of the Church, all the
pictures of Jesus were of the resurrected Christ. Most recent movies
have concentrated on the cross. Some, like GODSPELL and JESUS CHRIST
SUPERSTAR don’t even have a resurrection, while, with Franco
Zeffirelli’s wonderful JESUS OF NAZARETH, the resurrection is an
afterthought. Here, at last, is the full Gospel account, with Jesus
appearing before the disciples, showing his wounds to Thomas, eating
bread and fish with the disciples, and sending them into all the world
to preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God
other Jesus movies in preparation, but THE GOSPEL OF JOHN is the one
that most Christians have been waiting for. It is inspired truth, a
biblical sermon. Christians need to go into all the world to bring their
friends to watch the Good News of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in
THE GOSPEL OF JOHN.
All of this
being said, it important to recognize that this is the full Gospel and,
therefore, it does not follow the dramatic formula of Hollywood. It is
powerful and dramatic, but not structured in an Aristotelian fashion.
Furthermore, as with any rendition of the life of Christ, there will be
people who see Jesus differently, or have different images of the
disciples. This is a tour de force of casting, but there are those who
would have cast it differently, especially some of the minor roles.
Actually, the only real negative is the opening legend which includes a
reference to the date of the writing of The Gospel of John in a way that
might alienate knowledgeable scholars and Christians. This should be
Also, as with
any portrayal of Christ, one’s image from reading the book will be
different from what one sees on the screen. For one, I was enthralled by
the cleansing of the temple. It was totally different than I had
expected. Jesus’ first challenge to the Pharisees is extremely intense
and not as sugarcoated as is normally the case.
intensity and the pacing in THE GOSPEL OF JOHN works extremely well. A
movie is the sum of its parts, and all of the parts of THE GOSPEL OF
JOHN come together to produce an magnificent whole. There is no doubt
that THE GOSPEL OF JOHN will stand the test of time, and all those
involved are to be commended: Bravo!
© baehr, 2003
This update is published by
the Christian Film & Television Commission (http://www. movieguide.org).
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