Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A savior without hairspray

The death of actor Charlton Heston brings to mind all those biblical epics I've watched over the years. Films like "The Ten Commandments" reimagined Scripture's stories and gave them visual freshness.

Any time a movie adapts a beloved book, it's likely to introduce changes that don't sit well with the book's devotees. (Faramir never took Frodo and Sam to Osgiliath in "Lord of the Rings." It's wrong, I tell you! Wrong!) But the ability to see the tales come to life redeems many flaws.

There was one aspect of the older biblical epics that drove me crazy, though.

Jesus used hairspray.

They never showed him with the aerosol can in hand, but it was obviously in use. The first-century Galilean never had a hair out of place.

What's with this messiah mousse? Was it just too human for Christ to have a bad hair day? And doesn't that muddy the whole point of the incarnation -- God becoming one of us?

It's a picky complaint, I know, but I was relieved when filmmakers started portraying Jesus as someone who might need a detangler after calming the storm.

How do you feel about movies based on Scripture? What do you think is done well, and what is done badly?

15 comments:

D.J. said...

As far as visual representations of Christ we have in film and art, I find it ironic that as a first-century Palestinian Jew Jesus probably would have looked more like Osama bin Laden then the pasty, blue-eyed white guy we tend to portray him as.

Oddly enough, the only physical description we have of Jesus is this, from Isaiah 53...

"he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him."

Soli Deo Gloria

Danbo59 said...

I think Jeffrey Hunter's portrayal of Christ in 1961's "King of Kings" is the best. I never cared for Max von Sydow's portrayal in "The Greatest Story Ever Told."

In addition, "Ben Hur" is a masterpiece. Without ever "seeing" Christ in that movie it always stops my heart when Judah Ben Hur is being dragged through the desert by Roman soldiers.

Stopping in a small non-descript village, the chain gangs begs for water -- but a Roman guard forbids Hur from getting any on the orders of Roman Regent Massala (who has wrongly convicted him of an attempt on the new Roman Governor's life).

Then you see a figure in the foreground -- back to the camera -- put down his carpenter tools and obtain a ladle of water and offer it to a prone and despairing Ben Hur. As Hur sips the water and looks into the stranger's face the guard returns and tries to admonish the faceless "Good Samaritan." But when the guard catches sight of the "Samaritan's" eyes you see the guard go blank-faced, as if he's being shown all the shame and guilt of his own life. The guard shamefully retreats.

Awesome movie.

Danbo59 said...

Better yet is toward the end of "Ben Hur" when a vindicated Judah Ben Hur approaches the Road to Golgotha and looks at the procession and remarks, "I know this man."

He then attempts to offer the faceless figure, who has just fallen under the weigt of his cross, a ladle of water -- but is prevented by the Roman guard.

Definitely one of my five (5) best movies of all time -- possibly #1.

D.J. said...

Excellent film indeed, Dan.

Soli Deo Gloria

Edie said...

OK, this isn't exactly what you were asking, but ...

I saw 'Jesus Christ Superstar' in Atlanta back in the 80's and even though Ted Neeley was playing Jesus (played Jesus in movie) in the play, it was set in modern times and just didn't grab me like the movie.

Somehow Jesus and his disciples in suits and ties didn't evoke the same emotion as Jesus and his followers looking like hippies and wearing bell bottoms and beads.

BlueRooster12 said...

Jane's quote" What's with this messiah mousse? Was it just too human for Christ to have a bad hair day? And doesn't that muddy the whole point of the incarnation -- God becoming one of us?"

Where do you come up with incarnation? Where was that theme from God or Jesus ever mentioned in the Word?

Jesus refered to himself over sixty times as Son of Man and just over thirty times as Son of God! Jesus came as a perfect man in flesh and blood, he never incarnated any man. Thomas put his own hands into the wounds of Jesus after the resurection. This in itself shows that Jesus was in a fleshly body and now the Son of Man (flesh and blood) sits at the right hand of his Father, God.

Incarnation I thought was for other gods other religions. But if Jesus incarnated some body I would like to see where that is in the Word. Then I will have to walk away from this religion because now it is just that a religion and we have plenty of that to choose from.

Thanks!

Iztok said...

BlueRooster12: "Then I will have to walk away from this religion because now it is just that a religion and we have plenty of that to choose from."

Could you please let us know what is your definition of religion?

Here is one I offer: "A religion is a set of beliefs and practices often organized around supernatural and moral claims, and often codified as prayer, ritual, and religious law. "

Nick Bowen said...

Blue Rooster 12: "Where do you come up with incarnation? Where was that theme from God or Jesus ever mentioned in the Word?"

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." (John 1:14)

"Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh." (Romans 1:3)

"For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh." (Romans 8:3)

"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil." (Hebrews 2:14)

But better than these will be when Jesus is made incarnate in you. You can receive Him into your heart and life today, now, by simply opening your heart to Him.

Danbo59 said...

Bluerooster12 wrote, "Jesus came as a perfect man in flesh and blood, he [sic] never incarnated any man."

You misunderstand the meaning of Incarnation. Incarnation means "in the flesh." The Incarnation is the process by which God took human form.

God did not "take over" an existing human body, He became a human (a man). He took on "the flesh."

As for where this appears in The Word, I can't do better than DJ already has. Kudos, DJ!

pornstudent said...

I think a man possessed by God would look disheveled, but a God who is a man would look neat and well groomed.

D.J. said...

Bluerooster,

I think Dan proabably hit the nail on the head with what you are thinking. The doctrine of the incarnation simply is the idea that God took on human existence, not that he 'possessed' an existing man.

BTW, Dan, just to give due credit, Nick actually made the comments you attribute to me, though I do agree with them (and yours) wholeheartedly.

Soli Deo Gloria

Danbo59 said...

DJ said, "BTW, Dan, just to give due credit, Nick actually made the comments you attribute to me."

Noted. My apologies (and kudos) to Nick. :)

BlueRooster12 said...

Maybe I don't understand the term incarnate.
I look at Jesus coming as was quoted by Nick Bowen " "Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh." (Romans 1:3)

The seed to me is human coming from the Royal family of David and of the Holy Spirit. So I'm looking at flesh and blood who could feel all that we feel.

When I look at the word incarnate I think of as in bodily form. I don't think of myself in bodily form I think of myself as being flesh and blood.

This is my view because when I see the word seed. I look at all the other references in the Word using seed and it is the same.

Maybe it is the term incarnate because I agree with most of you on what you wrote in response of my comment.

Thanks for the responses.

Anonymous said...

It's the obvious make-up on women that bothers me in older movies, religious or otherwise, where you know make-up was not worn.

Iztok said...

"It's the obvious make-up on women that bothers me in older movies, religious or otherwise, where you know make-up was not worn."

That doesn't bother me. I figure that authors of fiction movies can make up whatever they want to.