Three Films Worth Seeing

People complain that “those rascals in Hollywood” just don’t make the old biblical classics any more, movies like The Ten Commandments or The Greatest story Ever Told. Often inferior movies, featuring lackluster stories poorly told and sloppily acted have taken their place. But in the weirdness that is Hollywood, two current films and one on the way, deal with explicitly religious themes, are inspirational stories, well told and exquisitely acted!

¢â‚¬¢ “LUTHER” is the riveting story of Martin Luther, the 167th century Christian Reformer and one of the most important figures in Western Civilization. Produced at the cost of $25 million, filmed on 100 sets in 20 locations in Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic this is a captivating, fast-paced, suspense filled drama in which the gospel is woven into the screenplay.

The world-class cast includes Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love), Alfred Molina (Chocolat), Jonathan Firth (Victoria and Albert) and two-time Academy Award winner Sir Peter Ustinov.

Luther will be released on September 26, 2003 on 300 screens and you can check www.lutherthemovie.com for more information

¢â‚¬¢ “GOSPEL OF JOHN” is in very limited release and then goes to DVD. You can learn more at gospelthefilm.com where among other things you’ll find this description: A momentous undertaking involving a creative constituency of award-winning artists and esteemed academic and theological consultants from around the world, Visual Bible’s THE GOSPEL OF JOHN is an ambitious motion picture that has been adapted for the screen on a word for word basis from the American Bible Society’s Good News Bible.

The story of Jesus’ life as recounted by His disciple John, this three-hour epic feature film draws its audience into antiquity by way of meticulous re-creation, including an original musical score complete with instrumental sounds of the time. This ambitious motion picture follows the Gospel precisely, neither adding to the story from other Gospels, nor omitting complex passages.

Narrated by renowned Canadian actor Christopher Plummer with a distinguished cast including British actor Henry Ian Cusick in the seminal role of Jesus Christ, this best-loved but least understood of the gospels, presents a uniquely human portrait of Jesus.

¢â‚¬¢ “THE PASSION” is the most controversial of these new releases. Mel Gibson’s own spiritual journey and professional career come together in this film telling the story of the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus on the day of his crucifixion in Jerusalem. This film’s script is based upon several sources, including the diaries of St. Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824) as collected in the book, “The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ”, “The Mystical City of God” by St. Mary of Agreda, and the New Testament books of John, Luke, Mark and Matthew. James Caviezel plays the role of Jesus.

Gibson has said of the film:

¢â‚¬ËœThis has been germinating inside me for 10 years. I have a deep need to tell this story. It’s part of your upbringing, but it can seem so distant. The Gospels tell you what basically happened; I want to know what really went down.’

¢â‚¬ËœI had always believed in God, that he existed, and I was brought up to believe in a certain way. But in my middle years, I kind of drifted, and other things took center stage. At that point, I realized I needed something more if I was going to survive. A closer investigation of the Gospels, of the story, of the whole piece, was demanded of me.’

¢â‚¬ËœThis is a movie about love, faith, hope and forgiveness, He died for all mankind. He (Jesus) suffered for all of us. It’s time to get back to that basic message. The world has gone nuts. We could all use a little more love, faith, hope and forgiveness.’

The controversy began with some reaction from academics in the Catholic community regarding Gibson’s sources and the story told in an early draft of the screenplay. Gibson said those problems have been addressed in the final version.

The real center of the storm has been reaction from some within the Jewish community, most notably Abraham Waxman of the Anti-Defamation League who argues that the film is anti-semitic, and was miffed when he was not invited to early screenings of the film. Waxman said, ¢â‚¬ËœI find this sad. Here’s a man who appeals to the mass audience, but he feels he has to surround himself with a cordon sanitaire of people who back him theologically and maybe ideologically and will stand up and be supportive when the time comes. My request still stands: I would like to see the movie, and if it turns out I was wrong, I’ll be the first to say so.’

One thing is certain. The controversy, though erupting months before the film’s release, combined with Gibson’s personal appeal, virtually guarantees a huge box office (though a distributor has not yet been identified). For more information visit the fan site: www.passion-movie.com

Film lovers, here are three films to attend with friends. They are professionally done, spiritually evocative and sure to elicit spirited conversation over coffee after their viewing.

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