Friday, January 05, 2007

Christmas Bible TV

Before going away, I blogged briefly on upcoming Christmas TV of interest to the topic of this blog (Christmas TV on Bible Films and The Secret Family of Jesus). The real highlights of Christmas TV viewing were largely non-biblical, Doctor Who, Vicar of Dibley and Torchwood, though the latter came in with some great Biblical language and themes in its superb conclusion the other night, mentioned already by Jim Davila on Paleojudaica and discussed by Pete Phillips on postmodernbible (Torchwood . . . and Torchwood's Abaddon). I didn't catch much of The Secret Family of Jesus, though some who did have commented on my blog post. I saw enough of it, though, to catch both James Tabor and Richard Bauckham. I was particularly pleased to see that Bauckham was involved since he has been somewhat media-shy in the past and the programme can't have been all bad if scholars like Bauckham and Tabor were involved. On New Year's day I caught some of The Secret Life of Brian and was pleased to see a little more of the famous Muggeridge / Bishop / Cleese / Palin exchange. Speaking as both a Christian and a Pythonist myself, I am almost as baffled now as I was when I sneaked in to see it aged 13 that many Christians found it so objectionable. Michael Palin made the excellent point in the previously mentioned exchange that Jesus is represented reverentially in the film on the one occasion we see him, played by Ken Colley (whom Palin mentions by name). Perhaps this would be a suitable occasion for me to mention something I sometimes say when teaching Jesus films, that Ken Colley must have been cast because of his resemblance to Robert Powell, whose Jesus in Jesus of Nazareth (1977) was still very fresh in viewers' minds in 1979. (The picture above shows Colley as Jesus in the dim distance, from the opening scene of the film).


Doug said...

Mark, you mention the famous argument about Life of Brian. Do you know the Not the Nine o'clock News version of General Synod's Life of Christ which you can access on YouTube:

Mark Goodacre said...

Hi Doug; thanks for that. Yes, I think I know it almost by heart, "though not a Pythonist myself". It's genius -- cf. my previous post.

Pete Phillips said...

There's a great article which quotes some of the comments from Cleese and co back in 1970's when the original stupidity arose...looks at how conformist Life of Brian is compared with other/proper Jesus' films.

George Aichele and Richard Walsh (eds.), Screening Scripture: Intertextual Connections Between Scripture and Film, (Harrisburg: Trinity Press International, 2002)
Carl Dyke, “Learning from The Life of Brian: Saviors for Seminars”, pp.229-250


Anonymous said...

I think one has to be awfully careful in jumping on the 'Python is blasphemous' or 'Python is not blasphemous' bandwagon. After all, 'Life of Brian' is a long enough film so the chances are that there will be plenty of room for both: hence, a more nuanced perspective is needed. For example, it may be (in fact, I think it is) unexceptionable re Jesus and simultaneously quite stupendously blasphemous regarding the gift of life.
Surely being an out-and-out member of either 'camp' says less about any detailed thought we may have done (which, if we had done it, would be more nuanced) and more about the kind of image we want to protray: either 'I am totally chilled' or 'I want to stand up for God and/or truth'. The film's stance cannot be accurately summarised by either of these extremes.
Plus the fact that those who reject the blasphemy claim quite opften, when pressed, turn out not to regard anything at all as blasphemous, making their claim of 'unblasphemy' (?!) empty of content.

Christopher Shell said...

SOrry forgot to sign