Monday, October 23, 2006

Color of the Cross article (Chicago Tribune) has the following article on the forthcoming film Color of the Cross:

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.

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."
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.


Jeremy Pierce said...

I didn't read that last line at all like the way many would have read Gibson meaning it. It seemed to me more to be a claim that Jews have not taken well to people trying to control them in an oppressive way and have thus not been as easily subject to overlords than other people Rome had conquered. Their devotion to monotheism also contributed to the Romans' inability to figure out how to see them as part of their cultural relativist and syncretistic empire.

Matt Page said...

: imagine if Gibson had said that in the lead up to The Passion of the Christ's release!

My thought exactly. Or suppose he said them several years later whilst being arrested for drunk driving...

Actually though, I'm not sure that La Marre meant that as an insult, just as "being rebellious" is seen as negative in most circles, but positive in others. Given the follow up comment about the Romans not knowing what to do with them, it suggests, perhaps, La Marre's comment was meant in a positive way

Either way, it's not the kind of carefully worded statement you'd expect a director of a Jesus film to make in the light of the hot water Gibson got into.