Biblical film portrays Jesus as a man of `Color'
By Ron Grossman
Tribune staff reporter
Hollywood being no place for modesty, Jean Claude LaMarre sees himself enlarging an artistic path blazed by Leonardo da Vinci. In his movie, "Color of the Cross," which opens late October, Jesus is a black man. It's a break with convention bound to stir controversy -- he hopes the kind that produces long lines at the box office, LaMarre freely admits.I don't like that last comment much (imagine if Gibson had said that in the lead up to The Passion of the Christ's release!) but otherwise the article is an interesting one, and it is good to see them consulting experts like Adele Reinhartz for the article.
He wrote, directed and stars in the low-budget production, upon which he has bet $2.5 million of his own money. The movie asks viewers to take not just one, but two leaps forward in their understanding of the Gospels' ethnic back story . . . .
. . . . In fact, Jesus' ethnicity has been a stumbling block for directors for as long as they've been making biblical films, notes Adele Reinhartz. A biblical scholar turned movie historian, her book "Jesus of Hollywood" will be published early next year. For her research, she watched 40 movies with biblical themes.
"Hollywood wants to have it both ways: to show Jesus in a Jewish context but not make him seem Jewish," said Reinhartz, associate vice president of research at the University of Ottawa . . . .
. . . . LaMarre chose to center his script on the Thursday of Holy Week. He says that the biblical narrative of what transpired on that day prior to Jesus' capture is tantalizingly thin, allowing LaMarre free rein for his imaginative powers. The resulting script emphasizes the social and political setting of Jesus' ministry.
Jesus' final days took place during Passover, a pilgrimage holiday in ancient Judaism's religious calendar. Jews from all over would flock to the Temple, making it a time of anxiety for their Roman masters, who feared that political agitators would stir up the crowds. Security was tight in Jerusalem during the holiday.
"The Jews have always been an uncontrollable people," LaMarre said. "The Romans really didn't know what to do with them."