For many years, hopeless sinners all over the world have been receiving
free copies of "The Jesus Video." I must have done something
really awful, because I got two of them.
The first of the complimentary videos was mailed to my mom's house in
Orlando when I just happened to be visiting for Christmas. It came in
a loud, colorful box with enthusiastic blurbs from such spiritual authorities
as Larry King and David Copperfield: "The miracles of the Bible are
beyond anything a magician or an illusionist can perform." Thanks
a bunch, David. How's Claudia?
The Second Coming, if you will, arrived at my apartment here in Austin
a couple months later. Same videothis time in a black box adorned
by several shots from the movie and enthusiastic blurbs from Time Magazine
and Billy Graham. It pointed out that "No other film has been seen
by more than one billion people, translated into 425 languages and shown
in more than 225 countries."
I wondered where the Christians, who are so incredibly busy spending
their precious last dimes feeding the poor and housing the homeless and
funding cancer research and protecting the environment and fighting nuclear-arms
proliferation and developing inner-city schools, got the money to distribute
these videos all across the world. I mean, it's tough enough to buy a
movie for under 20 bucks these days.
I found part of the answer on the plastic wrap of both cassettes, which
read: "Assembled in Mexico."
According to the narrator's introduction, this movie (entitled, simply,
Jesus) provides "the absolute truth about everything."
Impressive for an 83-minute video made around the time the Bee Gees were
Jesus, which claims to be a documentary, opens with a passage
from the book of John (3:16, of course) but is based entirely on the Gospel
of Luke. It tries to follow the Word as closely as possible.
Warner Brothers released this movie, and on the Austin box, Time Magazine
(run by the same pockets as Warner Bros) praised its "meticulous
attention to authenticity..."
The fact that the corporation elected itself an authority on events of
2000 years ago is comical enough, but what's even more funny is the material
to which they are attributing verisimilitude.
If this movie is in fact the "authentic" documentary that it
congratulates itself for being, then it turns out Jesus and his disciples
were white. Not only that, but Jesus had a striking British accent.
Jesus also was very GQ for his era. He wore brighter colors than his
contemporaries and was much better groomed. And remarkably enough, he
had a gleaming light shining down on his forehead and following him around
wherever he proselytized.
The Holy Land of Jesus' time was shockingly similar to those figment
Disney worlds where all the good people are beautiful and all the ugly
people are damned.
The ungroomed, dirty people of Jesus' time had obviously seen plenty
of Disney movies, because they were, it seems, desperate for a savior.
And despite the fact that the Jesus of this film doesn't say much of force
or interest and fails to provide any emotional presence, they all seem
pretty convinced he's their man.
However, Fresh Face Jesus doesn't seem so positive that he's the son
of God. After all, he keeps talking to God. Which means he's either
crazy, or, well, not God...
I did a little research on the people who put together this heavenly
mise en scene
The Director of the most popular film in the history of the world is
named John Krish. His previous film was titled, fittingly enough: The
Man Who Had Power Over Women.
The Producer, John Heyman, was somewhat of a lightweight at the time.
His previous film had also covered a powerful man. It was called Hitler:
The Last Ten Days. Heyman went on to make A Passage to India
and D.A.R.Y.L. Not too shabby.
Yet, neither can be blamed for the embarassingly bland portrayal of Jesus
that is distributed all across this planet, because they didn't really
make it. The original version was actually 117 minutes long. The version
"over one billion people" got is only 83 minutes. A lot of material
(I'm guessing the parts that might stimulate thoughts) was obviously chopped...
There is one precious shot in the film, and that is: one of the furious
anti-Jesus conspirators walks into a room, and two small flames in the
background make it look as though he has firey Devil horns. I hit rewind
for that. A couple of times.
Oddly enough, everyone in the movie speaks English, yet when Jesus is
being crucified, the sign they nail above his head is written in another
language. What's up with that?
Essentially, the Jesus movie consists of nothing more than a pretty-boy
Shakespearean with a prominent forehead wandering aimlessly around Israel
and muttering half-heartedly about eternity while a bunch of people with
disheveled hair act as if they are in awe of his prowess.
It's boring and thoughtless. It's a mockery and an insult to the depth
of Jesus Christ. I'm tired of talking about it. The distributors have
a website in which they brag about the effectiveness of their propaganda
in the Bible belt. But really their only good pagethe only "authentic"
pageis this one.