Thursday, April 14, 2005

Chattaway on Gospel of Mark teaser

I've been enjoying Peter Chattaway's Film Chat blog since it began almost a month ago (announced here). Peter has been posting regularly since its inception and if, like me, you enjoy Bible-related films, it's one to add to your aggregator.

Yesterday, he comments on the Gospel of Mark teaser trailer, which Mark Cannon pointed out to me, as follows:

The Gospels are now complete
. . . . Interestingly, as Matt notes, the filmmakers appear to be going back to actor Henry Cusick and narrator Christopher Plummer, who both worked on The Gospel of John, and if so, this would appear to mark the first time since the 1950s that an actor has played Jesus twice (assuming we don't count Bruce Marchiano's cameo in the Visual Bible's Acts, following his starring role in their Gospel according to Matthew) (my reviews). It's a shame, in a way, because each gospel has its own character, and it might be good to heighten the differences in emphasis between the gospels by casting different actors and using different voices.
The Matt referred to here is Matt Page who makes similar useful comments here yesterday. We need to ask someone in the know like Alan Segal on this, but my guess is that the use of Plummer and Cusick in the teaser trailer is something gleaned simply from the filming of the Gospel of John. What I mean is that it would not have been difficult to ask Plummer to record a little of Mark ready for such a trailer at that point. They were already planning to move to Mark next at that stage. And the shot of Cusick is just the one shot of the eyes. So I doubt that the teaser trailer means a lot on that front. But I may be wrong.

Chattaway also makes the following interesting remark:
Another interesting question is how this film will deal with the multiple endings of Mark -- which manuscript will it run with? Of course, word-for-word adaptations of any biblical text have to deal with these issues, when there are variations in words here or there; it's just rare that you find variations in entire passages.
Wouldn't it be great if they dare to go for an ending at 16.8? It'd have that Jesus Christ Superstar, Passion of the Christ feel. I argued in my article on the latter that Gibson's resurrection scene resembled the abrupt ending of Mark, though it was played out differently. With the big band of scholarly advisors, there is a serious chance that they might go with the scholar-friendly ending too. (Note that Gospel of John does include the Woman Taken in Adultery, but the film is no worse for that).

Chattaway's "complete" of the title relates to the notion that a film of The Gospel of Mark would complement Visual Bible International's Matthew and Gospel of John alongside Jesus for Luke. Nice point.

And to add one thing to Matt Page's comments about the possibility of Cusick playing Jesus for a second time, it's worth noting that Richard Kiley is the narrator of two of the above films, appearing too as older Matthew in Matthew, and narrating as Luke in Jesus.


Anonymous said...

Another nice way to end the film would be to get a different actor to voice those extra chapters and / or they could come in /after the credits, or just be an extra on the DVD.

For what it's worth, The Gospel of John did incorporate that passage usually assigned to John 8 about the woman caught in adultery, but I wouldn't be surprised if Mark ended at v8. I guess I hope they do something to draw attention to the strangeness of the ending.

Peter T Chattaway said...

Hello Mark, Matt's been saying good things about you for years but this is the first time I've gotten around to commenting on your blog!

Good points about the possibility that the Plummer narration was recorded during the Gospel of John sessions, though I don't think we necessarily need to go that far. FWIW, I have seen Gospel of John infomercials hosted by Plummer, so his involvement with the Visual Bible has obviously gone beyond his original stint in the recording booth; so it would not surprise me if he went back to do the narration for the teaser.

Re: Richard Kiley, was he involved in the narration of the full four-hour version of Luke or did he narrate only the two-hour Jesus film? It has been so, so long since I checked my VHS copies of Luke that I can't recall. FWIW, I always think of him as the Emperor Claudius in the 1985 mini-series A.D. Anno Domini. :)