Son of God has been edited for cinema release around the world from the 2013 mini-series, The Bible. In this miniseries, there were five episodes focusing on the gospel stories, a total of 200 minutes in all.
An hour has been taken out of that.
In the 1970s, Franco Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth was a mini-series that ran for more than seven hours and was also edited for cinema release to 135 minutes. Both films look very good on the big screen.
The film opens with the apostle, John, in old age in exile on the island of Patmos. He quotes the prologue to the gospel and what we see is a brief collage of the key Old Testament stories, taken from the miniseries. Then, at the end, there is a return to Patmos and John, reflecting on his experience, sees the risen Lord and he and Jesus speaks some quotations from the Book of Revelation.
One of the questions facing Christian audiences is whether they want to see yet another Jesus film or whether they have strong memories of previous films, of Pasolini, of Zeffirelli, of the 1999 Jesus with Jeremy Sisto or The Passion of the Christ. Another question is how literally the audience wants to understand some of the episodes, especially the miracles of Jesus as well as the Infancy Narratives.
In this version, they are presented fairly literally – with the touch of special effects for Jesus walking on the water and the miraculous basket of multiplied fishes, the healing of Malchus’ ear and the rending of the Temple at the time of Jesus’ death.
There is, of course, a problem in the selection of episodes and because this version has only 45 minutes before the Palm Sunday procession, the selection is particularly limited. In the synopsis for the television version, there is mention of the temptations in the desert and the baptism of Jesus but these do not appear, except for a glimpse of the baptism during the final credits.
There is no Cana miracle, very few parables (The Pharisee and the Public, and The Mustard Seed only), comparatively few of the many encounters of Jesus. Pilate does not say 'Here is the man' and Jesus does not urge Mary Magdalene to let go of him after the resurrection.
There are several miracles, including that of the paralytic let down through the roof as well as the raising of Lazarus and the healing of Malchus in Gethsemane - Peter Malone, ACOFB
Starring Diogo Morgado, Roma Downey, Greg Hicks, Simon Kunz. Directed by Christopher Spencer. Rated M (Violence). 138 minutes.