His Face

From IMDb.com

It has been forever since I have written here.  For-ev-er.  Health battles, speaking in several states, God’s amazing faithfulness and yes, more health battles.  Because I am quite sure you have better things to do than listen to a litany of every time I am poked and prodded or a new doctor has a go at figuring out my medical mysteries, well I just haven’t had a lot to write.   Probably I have more to write on than I think, but when a trip to the grocery store qualifies as an epic event in my week, the energy to put words on a page is just a little scant.  I am trying to get back on a schedule that will find me here more than not.  But trying is the operative word.

Mom and I went to see Son of God today.  I hesitated even posting on Facebook that I had seen it.  Because I knew some would want my opinion and opinions in the world of social media psuedo-anonymity can be dangerous things that create unhelpful debates.  I really don’t like debate even when it is helpful.  And most of what I have seen online is unproductive at best.  So with that all said and a caveat that this is just my opinion, here goes.

Ever since Jesus walked into my room and introduced Himself to me when I was seven, I have been ruined for even the best of Hollywood’s efforts.  The Jesus I know looks ethnically Middle Eastern, and I’ve never seen anyone remotely ethnically similar be cast for his role.  But it’s His eyes that are hard enough to describe let alone capture after walking with Him for over two decades.  I have no idea how people, no matter how gifted, who haven’t had the benefit of walking with Him could even begin to capture as much as they do.  And I am speaking generally here.  I wouldn’t presume to know what is in the hearts of those who created Son of God or any other rendering.

I’ve read some very critical, even harsh scene-by-scene dissections of the movie that seem to forget it is movie by Hollywood.  It is not a sermon or a Bible study on the Gospels.  I didn’t go expecting a theologically flawless retelling of the life of Jesus. I could tell it was less than that from the trailer. This was a movie. It never claimed to be a Scriptural anything.

Some of the details I have read others be frustrated by, really don’t bother me because 1. It’s not a sermon. 2. It’s not a Bible study. 3. It never pretends to be.  There are a WHOLE lot of details we don’t have written down that happened in between the parts that are written down so that alone leaves a little room for artistic interpretation.

What about that line in the book of John that there would not be enough books in all the world to contain what Jesus did?  Leaves even more room.  How much?  I’m sure we could swallow whole days chatting about that and still have as many opinions as participants in the conversation.  And that isn’t really the main point, is it?

{I am not in any way advocating creating new extra-biblical doctrine by the way.  Jesus gave us the written word He did for a reason.  It is simply impossible to ever rightly interpret the written word apart from a real relationship with the Living Word.  Jesus isn’t confined by Scripture, He is revealed by it.}

I think God will speak to hungry hearts using just about anything, so how much even more so especially something like this.

Artistically speaking… forgive me ahead of time for being a picky artist.  These are not meant to be statements of merit, merely of preference.  The cinematography, lighting, camera angles, panoramic vistas and overall artistry was gorgeous in parts {not including obvious CGI renders of Jerusalem}. The story-telling being framed through the life of John on Patmos an ingenious angle.  Some of the special effects were average being kind {when put next to epic saga films like Lord of the Rings.  Yes I did see the trilogy and no I don’t recommend them} and the acting was light years better than most genre “Christian films” {if this film can even be considered such as it had Hollywood production talent in it.}

Then there was the character of Jesus.  Honestly, I felt like I was 10 again.  Disappointed after seeing my first cinematic portrayal of Jesus… that they got the eyes wrong. And the skin color and the voice.  Except I’m not ten.  I have had 26 more years to get to know His voice and His eyes, so I perhaps I’m even pickier now.  Peter looked a bit closer to the part than Jesus did, again in my opinion.

I went in with slightly skeptical lenses because I’ve been looking since I was 7 for a realistic portrayal. And I have yet to find one. The actor portraying Jesus really did give it his all- you could tell. He seemed to have a beautiful heart. But he felt pressured and canned to me- can you imagine?  Play the Son of God and get it right? The whole world will be watching, with their blogs and facebook walls ready to fire, right up to how many nose hairs you have thanks to high def everything.

My purely unprofessional {I’m not an actress save my legendary stage appearances at ages 4 and 9} and possibly unsolicited thoughts.  It seems to me like the actor playing Jesus was always trying to become the character instead of simply being “in character”.  I could feel him trying really hard, as if he was deeply concerned about getting it right.  And rightfully so!  But his filter of what “right” was got superimposed on his character portrayal and even the cadence of speech delivering his lines.  He obviously had a picture of Jesus as the gentle soft spoken, cheesy “nice” guy.  A somewhat anemic, hyper-nice version of Jesus with sing-songy voice was prevalent throughout. {I did wonder if they might spontaneously belt out a musical number from Jesus Christ, Superstar.}

I couldn’t articulate the reason for my frustration when I was ten.  I can now.  Jesus just doesn’t sound like that.  Or look like that.  Or act like that.

Jesus is gentle.  He is the kindest person I’ve ever known.  He can be very soft-spoken.  But His whisper can send worlds spinning into place and storm waves crashing to a halt.  There is more power in one whispered word from Him than all the shouts of every major world leader from time began till time ends put together.  I didn’t see any understanding of what that authority might even begin to sound like.

I have no idea whether the actor portraying Jesus knows Him personally or not, but I can’t even imagine how impossible it would be to portray Him accurately without knowing Him experientially for yourself.  And even then.  In my book, this guy gets an A+ for effort at the very least.

The movie did some things well, others not as much, but overall everyone sure seemed to give it everything they had. The Jesus character’s dialogue could have used some caffeine, the timeline less minutes and the movie less opera. But as I said above, I’m a picky artist. These are just my opinions. I was however thrilled I did not once feel preached at in this film. {That’s a whole other topic for another time.}

What has my attention is the response at the box office that reveals a hunger for knowing Who Jesus really is rising in our nation.  I’m ever grateful we still live in a country free to applaud at the end which our theater did.  Regardless of what I liked and/or didn’t like, make no mistake, He will use this movie. I just pray we will put down our social media debates long enough to open our hearts to what part we who DO know the very real, very alive Son of God might play in revealing Him to hungry, seeking hearts around us.

Let’s make a choice to demonstrate the beauty, love and grace of Who He is STILL to a searching world and not get lost in a debate of Who He isn’t or should have been in the movies.  Let’s be so filled that we overflow with His unstoppable love and grace-filled truth that many millions desperately need.  They may or may not find His face in this film, but beloved church they sure should find His face in ours.

You are loved.-Michele