FilmSince its introduction to America and the world, film has become one of the most important and popular cultural mediums ever (Marsh 33). Ever since the motion picture industry began, the role of Jesus Christ has been used numerous times in different ways. These portrayals of Jesus in film have varied in showing either a traditional image, pertaining to the gospels, or one more unconventional, usually based on someone else’s interpretation. Both of these different ways of showing Jesus and his life have greatly influenced people’s image of him (Brunstad 145). Because of the movies’ portrayals of Jesus, his differing image has also been shown as more human, usually when Jesus is unconventional, or more divine. The portrayal of Jesus Christ, from Ben-Hur to The Passion of the Christ, focuses too much on either his human aspect or his divine aspect, but has never met the correct depiction of a believable God-man.
Jesus Christ shown as a God-man is central to Christian beliefs. In Christian culture Jesus is understood to be both fully divine and fully human at the same time. Because of this idea, the attempt has been made by several films to show Jesus in this way, but has never been achieved.
The movies that will be discussed in this paper came out between 1959, after Ben-Hur, and 2004, before The Passion of the Christ. They are as follows, in chronological order of when released: Ben-Hur, King of Kings, The Greatest Story Ever Told, The Gospel According to Saint Matthew, Jesus Christ Superstar, Jesus of Nazareth, The Last Temptation of Christ, and The Passion of the Christ. Ben-Hur came out in 1959. It was directed by William Wyler. The role of Jesus was played by Claude Heater. This movie de…
… of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 15 March 2004. 25 Apr 2004 .
Grimshaw, Michael. “Sexless Piety or a Man’s Man? Notes on the cinematic representation of Jesus.” Journal of Beliefs and Values 20 (1999): 149-161.
Hittinger, Russell and Elizabeth Lev. “Gibson’s Passion.” First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life 141 (2004): 7-9.
Kinnard, Roy and Tim Davis. Divine Images: A History of Jesus on the Screen. New York: Carol, 1992.
Marsh, Clive and Gaye Ortiz, eds. Explorations in Theology and Film. Oxford: Blackwell, 1997.
Medved, Michael. Hollywood Vs. America: Popular Culture and the War on Traditional Values. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.
Stern, Richard C, Clayton N Jefford, and Guerric DeBona,. Savior on the Silver Screen. New York: Paulist, 1999.
Turner, Matthew Paul. “Jesus in Living Color.” Christian Single 26 (2004): 40.