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How the ‘Son of God’ movie lost me

The Son of God movie isn’t the first movie based on a book to disappoint me. It probably won’t be the last. But it sure is the most significant.

Not that I’ve actually seen the movie, as such.

When the movie was first being promoted, I thought the actor looked familiar. Then, as more information was released, I realized he was Diogo Morgado, the same actor who played Jesus in The Bible TV miniseries that aired on History Channel last year.

Well, I wasn’t impressed with his performance then, so I wasn’t keen on seeing the new movie, either.

Then I started to wonder if the movie was really “new.”

It’s not.

The movie is re-edited from the miniseries. So that settles it. I’m done.

How much of Diogo Morgado’s flawed performance was due to his own decisions and how much came from the director we may never know. All I know is, when he walked casually through the temple court, lightly tipping tables over, he had all the energy and drama of a three-toed sloth on barbiturates. “Ho-hum, time to turn over the tables, yawn.”

I mean, I wanted to see some whip-cracking, table-throwing, righteous wrath of God action there. Like Ted Neely in Jesus Christ Superstar screeching “Get out!” like a heavy metal singer. Nope. Not here.

pretty-jesus Jesus
And another thing: Why did the producers cast a Jesus who looks like this… Instead of a Jesus who looks like this?

The liberties The Bible’s producers took with the text bothered me. On the one hand, I appreciate their drawing from the histories of Josephus to add some historical context. But they really lost me in their interpretation of the resurrection of Lazarus.

John’s gospel is specific about how Jesus worked this miracle:

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”…So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”—John 11:38-44

In The Bible miniseries, the scriptwriter—for reasons I cannot fathom—rewrote this so that instead of calling Lazarus out by the power of his Word, Jesus goes into the tomb and kisses Lazarus on the forehead.

How that was supposed to be more powerful than a dead man swaddled in a shroud walking out of the tomb, I do not know.

What I do know is that every preacher I have ever heard teach this passage emphasizes the power of Jesus’ Word, because he is the Word, and his Word has power.

That’s not the only place the producers of The Bible and The Son of God took liberties with their source. It’s just, to me, the most egregious example.

My hope for The Son of God is that it will reach people who don’t already know the story and inspire them to explore it further.

As for me, I’ve seen enough of that movie, and I prefer the book.

Darwin

This guy. They could have cast this guy as Jesus.
(That’s Darwin Shaw, playing the role of Peter.)

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About Kristen Stieffel

Kristen Stieffel is a writer and freelance editor specializing in speculative fiction. She's a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, Christian Editor Connection, and American Christian Fiction Writers.

7 comments on “How the ‘Son of God’ movie lost me

  1. I agree. As far as actors over the years who have portrayed Jesus, I will say I was not unhappy with James Caviezel’s portrayal of Christ in “The Passion.” I can’t think of any others I have liked, to be honest.

  2. I’ve never really been a fan of any of these religious movies depicting Jesus. I cringe every time a new one comes out, because I wonder how they’re getting it wrong this time! As you said, I prefer the book.

  3. […] How the ‘Son of God’ movie lost me […]

  4. I agree with you, Kristen as well as Krysti. I’ll probably never go see this, just as I never watched The Passion or the Bible miniseries.It’s daunting enough trying to write “God” scenes; I can’t imagine how one would feel portraying Him through acting.

    That said, I know God can use anything to reach people and heard of someone who watched it and cried like a baby. I just pray that whatever movie/story comes out, the Truth will shine clear.

  5. Well said, well said, well said. This is a heteron Jesus, a “jesus of a different kind,” as of which Paul warns us in Galatians 1:6-9. The rest of what Paul said there is also applicable. Thank you for standing for God’s truth and speaking out!

  6. And I thought…

    He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
    and like a root out of dry ground.
    He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
    Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

    (Isaiah 53:2, 3 NIV)

    Amen!

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