Screen Jesus: Portrayals of Christ in Television and Film


Since the dawn of film in the 1890s, religious themes and biblical subjects have been a staple of cinema. One of the earliest focuses of screen presentations was the Bible, especially the New Testament and the Gospels. In Screen Jesus: Portrayals of Christ in Television and Film, Peter Malone takes a close look at films in which Jesus is depicted. From silent renditions of The Passion Play to 21st-century blockbusters like The Passion of the Christ, Malone examines how the history of Jesus films reflects the ...

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Screen Jesus: Portrayals of Christ in Television and Film

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Since the dawn of film in the 1890s, religious themes and biblical subjects have been a staple of cinema. One of the earliest focuses of screen presentations was the Bible, especially the New Testament and the Gospels. In Screen Jesus: Portrayals of Christ in Television and Film, Peter Malone takes a close look at films in which Jesus is depicted. From silent renditions of The Passion Play to 21st-century blockbusters like The Passion of the Christ, Malone examines how the history of Jesus films reflects the changes in artistic styles and experiments in cinematic forms for more than a century. In addition to providing a historical overview of the Jesus films, this book also reveals the changes in piety and in theological understandings of the humanity and divinity of Jesus over the decades.

While most of the Jesus films come from the United States and the west, an increasing number of Jesus films come from other cultures, which are also included in this study. Fans and scholars interested in the history of religious cinema will find this an interesting read, as will students and teachers in cinema and religious studies, church pastors, parish groups, and youth ministry.

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Editorial Reviews

This book covers the spectrum of the Jesus figure in television and film, including early works, documentations, reverent treatments, and bizarre interpretations. The author also brings his perspective as a Catholic missionary to the work. Eighteen chapters cover the Jesus figure, biblical portraits, and films, from the earliest cinema to the present. Four appendixes, selected background reading, and an index complete the volume. More than just a film text, this book would do well in either a reference or circulating collection. Recommended for academic libraries supporting a religious-studies or film-studies program.
Malone (a member of Missionaries of the Sacred Heart Order, Australia) updates and expands material from his Movie Christs and Antichrists (1990) into an impressive encyclopedia of the screen versions of Jesus of Nazareth. As the apostle to the cinematic Savior, Malone covers the films chronologically. Beginning with the silent Passion Play films and Cecil B. DeMille's spectaculars (e.g., King of Kings), the book covers the usual suspects of mainstream films and international productions, and culminates in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ and other 21st-century films. Rather than focusing on the symbolic "Christ figure" who resembles some aspect of the Messiah in suffering or redemption, Malone focuses on depictions (both realistic and stylized) of the historical figure of Jesus. Malone also ventures into looking at the verbal presence of Jesus in films (i.e., films in which characters talk about Jesus). Summing Up: Recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; general readers.
Studia Patavina
The book still very useful for the wealth of information it offers.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810883895
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/12/2012
  • Pages: 348
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Malone, of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart order in Australia, has served as president of SIGNIS, the World Catholic Association for Communication. He is the author or editor of more than 25 books on film studies, including the Lights, Camera, Faith: A Movie Lover's Guide to Scripture series (2001-2006) and Through a Catholic Lens: Religious Perspectives of 19 Film Directors from Around the World (Rowman & Littlefield, 2007).

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Table of Contents

Foreword, Maggie Roux
Introducing the Theme

1. The Jesus Figure
Faces of Jesus in Art

2. Biblical Portraits of Jesus
Jesus Redeemer
Jesus Saviour
Jesus Liberator
Jesus Priest, Prophet and King
Jesus 'Holy Fool'

3. The Jesus Films: the Early 20th Century
I.N.R.I. (Crown of Thorns)
Leaves from Satan’s Book

4. The Jesus Films: the 1920s and Cecil B. De Mille
Ben Hur
The King of Kings
Le Berceau de Dieu (The Cradle of God)
Chizome no Jujika
Jesus of Nazareth

5. The Jesus Films: Jesus’ Absence from the Mainstream…The 1930s, 1940s and 1950s… Evangelical Jesus-figures
The Wandering Jew (1923, 1933)
The End of the World, The Miraculous Life of Therese Martin, The Last Days of Pompeii (1935), Barabbas (1953)
The Great Commandment
The Lawton Story/ The Prince of Peace/The Pilgrimage Play
I Beheld His Glory
The Living Bible, The Living Christ
Day of Triumph
The Power of the Resurrection
The Blood of Jesus and God Down, Death
Notes on other Titles

6. The Jesus Films: Mainstream Images
Maria Magdalena, Pecasor di Magdala
El Martir del Calvario
Ben Hur and Jesus’ Reappearance
Ponzio Pilato and Barabbas
The Sin of Jesus

7. The Jesus Films: the 1960s
King of Kings
The Greatest Story Ever Told
Acto de Primavera
Il Vangelo secondo Matteo/ The Gospel According to Matthew
El Proceso de Jesus
La Lit del la Vierge
Son of Man

8. The Jesus Films: the 1970s
Jesus Christ Superstar
Jesus Christus Erloser
Proceso a Jesus
The Messiah
A Vida de Jesus Cristo
The Gospel Road
The Passover Plot
Jesus of Nazareth
Jesus (1979) / The Jesus Project
Jesus, Nuestro Senor
Jesus, el Nino Dios; Jesus, Maria y Jose
Proceso a Jesus
The Life of Brian
Other Titles

9. The Jesus Films: the 1980s
The Fourth Wise Man
La Inchiesta/ The Inquiry
The Cotton Patch Gospel
Jesus – Der Film
St John in Exile
Un Bambino di Nome Gesu
Incident in Judaea/ The Master and Margarita
The Seventh Sign
The Last Temptation of Christ
Jesus of Montreal
Jesus Christus Horoskopya

10. The Jesus Films: Cinema Freedom and Images of Jesus
Jesus-figures inserted into commercial films
Johnny Got his Gun
A Clockwork Orange
The Ruling Class
The Devils
The Milky Way
Cammina, Cammina
From a Far Country
History of the World Part I
Bad Lieutenant
Cercasi Gesu
The Favour, the Watch and the Very Big Fish
Leon the Pig Farmer

11. The Jesus Films: the 1990s
La Belle Histoire
The Visual Bible: Matthew, Acts
The Gospel according to Jesus
The Revolutionary I and II
Mary, Mother of Jesus
Other Mary films
Jesus (US, 1999)
Jesus (France, 1999)
I Giardini dell’ Eden
The Miracle Maker
Gli Amici di Gesu

12. The Jesus Films: the 21st Century
The Body
Saint Mary
Maria, Mae do Filho de Deus
The Apocalypse
The Gospel of John
The Passion of the Christ
Saint Peter/ San Pietro
Color of the Cross
The Cross – The Last Hours of Jesus
La Sacra Famiglia (The Holy Family)
The Passion (UK)
Mormon Jesus Films

13. The Jesus Films: Jesus in our world today
The Book of Life
Las Aventuras di Dios
Man Dancin’
Son of Man
We are all Christs
Tutta Colpa di Giuda
Almanya: Willkommen in Deutchland

14. The Jesus Films: Verbal Jesus-figures
Lilies of the Field
Wise Blood
At Close Range
The Name of the Rose
The Dark Side of the Heart
The Big Kahuna
Dogma and Red State
Deliver us from Eva
The Da Vinci Code
The Oxford Murders
The Wrestler
Tales from the Madhouse

15. Interest in Jesus and Film beyond Christianity
Au Nom du Christ, Cote d’Ivoire
Jesus, the Spirit of God/ The Messiah, Iran
Robin, Iran
Karunamayudu/ Man of Compassion, India
Jesus Comes to India, India
The Untold Stories of Jesus, India
The Aquarian Gospel, India
Ekattarer Jishu/ Jesus ‘71, Bangladesh

16. The Reverent/Serious and the Bizarre
The Reverent/ Serious
Going to Glory... Come to Jesus
Whistle down the Wind
Seduta alla Destra/ Black Jesus
Le Martyre de Saint Sebastian
Seoul Jesus
The Magic Boy’s Easter
The Garden
La Vie de Jesus
Les Demons de Jesus
Resurrection; Stephen’s Test of Faith
Jesus 2000
Jesus’ Son
Da Jeg Traff Sprettart/ When I Hit Jesus... with my Sllingshot
In Jesus’ Name, Jesus Wept, Baby Jesus
Das Jesus Video
Dracula 2000
Secondo Giovanni
The Cross
What Wouldn’t Jesus Do?
The Boy who saw Christ
Jesus, du Weisst
Screen Door Jesus
De Arm von Jesus/ Jesus’ Arm
Searching for the wrong-eyed Jesus
Jesus Camp
Gas Station Jesus
World Trade Center
What Would Jesus Buy?
The Perfect Stranger/ Another Perfect Stranger
Teresa, el Cuerpo de Cristo
The Bizarre
Plastic Jesus
The Jesus Trip
Sweet Jesus, Preacher Man
The Thorn
Jeg Sa Jesus Do/ I Saw Jesus Die
El Eligido
Deux Heures moins un Quart avant Jesus-Christ
Das Gespenst/ The Ghost
Asi en Cielo como en la Tierra
South Park
Who Killed Baby Jesus?
Jesus Vender Tilbage/ The Return
Jesus of Judson
Stripping for Jesus
Hyakunen no Zessho/ Jesus in Nirvana
Mensch Jesus
Super Jesus
Jesus is a Palestinian
Jesus and Hutch
Can’t Drag Race with Jesus
This Filthy Earth
The Terminator (Jesus parody)
Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter
Jesus Henry Christ
Jesus Christ Supercop
Jesus Christ Serial Rapist
Jesus Christ the Musical
Jerry Springer: the Musical
The Ten
Jesus on YouTube

17. After The Passion of the Christ
Television Series
Satire and Spoof
Serious Films

More than a hundred years of Jesus Films
Appendix 1: Jesus and the Crucifix
Appendix 2: Interview with the director of Jesus, the Spirit of God
Appendix 3: The Issue of Films on Jesus and Sexuality
The Major Jesus Films
Note: Television, Video and DVD documentaries
Selected Background Reading

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