You may have seen last spring's mini-series The Bible, and if you have, you've seen the episodes that deal with the story of Jesus Christ. Son of God consists of those episodes cut into a 2 hour and 38 minute film. I spoke with producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey (who also plays Mary, mother of Jesus) about what they wanted to see happen with this release and they told me they wanted people who were already believers to have an opportunity to fall in love with Jesus all over again and for non-believers to discover him and they hope that the film will open hearts.
I have not seen Son of God but I did watch The Bible and what I really liked about it was that it didn't come across to me as an evangelical film. It told a story almost from a historical perspective. It gave a sense of what was happening in the world at the time the events took place and still told the stories of the love, salvation, pain, and life that are told in the Bible. The Son of God portion in particular came across almost as a political thriller. The film gives insight into why the people in power had a fear of Jesus and why they wanted to see him arrested and punished. Why the religious leaders of the time asked the Roman leaders to intervene. It's all very interesting but at the same time, we have the story of Jesus delivering the Sermon on the Mount, healing the sick, and bringing back the dead. One could understand why someone like that would be met with caution and even fear.
One key element is not present in the film and that is the temptation of Christ by Satan. When the Bible first ran last spring, it was meant with controversy as many (including myself) thought the actor playing Satan looked like President Barack Obama. It's a very pivotal story in the growth of Jesus but after the controversy the decision was made to leave those scenes out of Son of God so the focus would be on the story of Jesus Christ and not on the devil looking like our President.
So, if you have seen The Bible series, why would go see this? Producer Mark Burnett believes that the emotional experience of watching it at home with your family is completely different than watching it in a theater with 200 people. I tend to agree him on that point. Movies are much more enjoyable that way. He also adds that the several of the scenic shots lend itself to a big screen and the film itself has such a large scope that it needs to be seen on a big screen with the remastered 5.1 surround sound.
Why would you go see this if you are not a Christian? It's the story of a very important person in the history of one of the world's largest, most influential religions. Whether you believe Jesus of Nazareth to be the son of God or not, the historical importance might be enough to get you to the theater. If your heart is opened then the producers have achieved their goal and if your mind hasn't changed then you'll still walk away having seen a good story.
If you want to watch my full interview with Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, click the video below.
Now on to the Academy Awards…
Here are my picks for a handful of categories, with no explanation why.
Best Picture:12 Years a Slave
Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave
Best Animated Feature Film: Frozen
Best Cinematography: Gravity
Best Visual Effects: Gravity
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Wolf of Wall Street
Best Original Screenplay: Her