The Body

Cast
Father Matt Gutierrez: Antonio Banderas
Sharon Golban: Olivia Williams
Moshe Cohen: John Shrapnel
Father Lavelle: Derek Jacobi
Father Walter Winstead: Jason Flemyng
Cardinal Pesci: John Wood
Nasir Hamid: Makram Khoury
Monsignor: Vernon Dobtcheff
Dr. Sproul: Ian McNeice
Abu Yusef: Mohammed Bakri
Avi: Yoav Dekelbaum
Achmel: Sami Samir
Directed by Jonas McCord. Written by Richard Sapir (novel), Jonas McCord (screenplay). Rated PG-13 for some violent sequences and brief language.

Central Theme
The Christian faith claims Jesus is uniquely the son of God and offers as evidence an empty tomb. What would happen to your faith if an archaeological dig discovered the body of the un-resurrected Jesus?

Story
An Arab shopkeeper in Jerusalem wants to expand his hardware store on Hanevi’im Street. He is surprised to find a perfectly preserved tomb from the first century. Archaeologist Sharon Golban discovers an ancient skeleton in a rich man’s tomb. Coloration on the wrist and leg bones indicate that the cause of death was the Roman method of executing criminals and enemies of the state, crucifixion. A gold coin found in the tomb bears the markings of Roman governor Pontius Pilate. And there are other signs which might corroborate Biblical descriptions of the death of the first century Judean rabbi Yeshu Ben Yosef…better known as Jesus, son of Joseph. Roman Catholic archaeologist Father LaVelle is so disturbed by the evidence that his faith is shaken to the core and his report to the Vatican is taken seriously enough that Father Matt Guitierrez, a priest of unshaken and simple faith, is sent to investigate. Once the Vatican gets involved, Arab and Israeli activists see an opportunity to offer their silence in exchange for the Vatican’s declaration of Jerusalem as the undivided capital of their respective side. As new experts confirm the possibility that this body is that of Jesus, one priest loses his faith and takes his own life while Gutierrez pushes ahead until the evidence leads to a conclusion he can live with. His exposure to the political aspects of the Vatican and religion lead him to divide his spiritual life from religion, becoming a man of God for the first time.

This production did not fare well with most reviewers who observed a promising premise and good performances but uneven story delivery. The Body did win the coveted Epiphany prize for most Inspirational Movie from Ted Baehr, President of the Christian Film and Television Commission. The Body raises extremely important issues regarding the importance of the resurrection of Jesus as affirmation of his claims and the significance of the empty tomb as evidence of his resurrection. This film takes faith seriously but trots out the stereotypical themes of a Vatican that is politicized and out of step with the spiritual nature of its trust.The contemporary struggle over Jerusalem between Palestinians and Israel lend a credibility to the political sub-plot and the footage of Jerusalem and environs is a sad reminder of what is at stake in the region.

Beliefs num
–The resurrection of Jesus is central to the Christian faith
–The empty tomb is the essential proof of the resurrection
–If archaeologists found the tomb of Jesus with his body in it, Christianity as we know it would be destroyed.
–Some leaders in the Christian religion would suppress such a finding, even if verified as true, in order to protect their own positions of power.
–Some secular leaders would be willing to suppress such information if it could be leveraged for political gain.

Questions Worth Discussing num
–Could Christianity survive the discovery of Jesus’ un-resurrected body?
–If you take away the resurrection, do you take away the God, Jesus?
–What do you think the likelihood is of such a discovery?
–Is protecting the church synonymous with protecting the faith?
–What would you do if archaeological findings conflicted with your religions beliefs?
–Does God have a place in politics?
–Is Christianity based on a rational set of proofs or on a human need to believe?

Provocative Quotes byline
–I believe Jesus Christ is God because I spoke to him this morning.
==Father Matt Gutierrez
–They are synonymous. Protect the church, protect the faith.
==Cardinal Pesci, when Matt says he desires to protect the faith
–My archaeological facts are going to conflict with your religious beliefs.
==Sharon Golban to Matt, when they first meet
–Don’t you realize what that means? If it is he in that tomb, the un-risen Christ, it is the end of Christianity.
==Father Matt Gutierrez
–I will turn to God for the answer.
==Father Matt Gutierrez to Father Lavelle, when asked how he will retain his belief, if it is proven that the body is Jesus.
–This will not be the end of Christianity. Religion is not based on a rational set of proofs. It survives because of human need.
==Moshe Cohen, Jewish archaeological administrator
–If you take away the resurrection, you take away the God, Jesus.
==Father Matt Gutierrez
–When the Vatican recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of an undivided Jerusalem, the bones will be released.
==Nasir Hamid
–God has no place in politics.
==Father Matt Gutierrez
–Christ said you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.
==Father Matt Gutierrez to Sharon Golban, and also her response to him
–Please God, take my son Daniel, as you took your own son Jesus.
==Previously undiscovered plaque at the entrance to the tomb
–I have not lost my faith in God. I have lost my faith in serving men like you who use God to serve their material agendas. That is why I now choose to serve God my own personal way.
==Father Matt Gutierrez to Cardinal Pesci
–The church made me a priest, but our ordeal made me a man of God, maybe for the first time.
==Father Matt Gutierrez to Sharon Golban
–Blessed are those who believe and yet have not seen.
==John 20:29, end quote of the film

Posted in Movies, Staublog in April 27, 2001 by | No Comments »

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