Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Favourite -- and least favourite -- Jesus Films

Every couple of years, I teach a course on Jesus in Film at Duke. Last time I taught the course, I ran a fun poll at the end in which I asked students "What is your favourite Jesus film?" I posted the results here.

This year's results are now in! Amazingly enough, the academics' most hated film of all, Passion of the Christ, gets the most votes, albeit only a fifth of the class (6/30). As before, Jesus Christ Superstar gets a good showing, as does the wonderful BBC Nativity. Newcomers Young Messiah and Risen do surprisingly well:

(1) Passion of the Christ [6 votes]

(2) Jesus Christ Superstar
The Nativity (BBC, 2010)
Young Messiah [4 votes each]

(5) Jesus of Nazareth
Life of Brian
Last Temptation of Christ
Risen [2 votes each]

One vote each:

The Gospel According to St Matthew
The Miracle Maker
The Passion (BBC / HBO, 2008)
The Bible / Son of God

This time I thought to ask them several additional questions, including "What is your least favourite Jesus film?" And here there is a clear winner!

(1) Godspell [17 votes]

(2) Life of Brian [3 votes]

(3) Greatest Story Ever Told
The Bible / Son of God [2 votes each]

One vote each:

King of Kings
Gospel According to St Matthew
Last Temptation of Christ
Killing Jesus
The Star


Whit+ said...

Interesting results! I did an adult education class at my church a few year's back. I used the example of the films to discuss the different content of the Gospels and how each Evangelist presents Jesus as a way of communicating what each thinks is most important to their particular audience.

We also talked about making a film from the Gospels, how much a filmmaker has to decide. Settings, dialogue, casting, etc...

Nice to be in touch again!

RJS said...

I note that there's a new book out on modern fiction authors who have tried to reinvent the New Testament story.
The Gospel According to the Novelist (New Directions in Religion and Literature) by Magdalena Maczynska.
This looks at meta-gospels, alternative gospels, sci-fi gospels.
It's on my Xmas hit-list.

Probador said...

Ideally, polls are used as a tool to (help to) prove something. What does this prove or lead to believe? That most pupils prefer the film with the least content of the message of the Christ, which is a film basically showing somebody being beat up all over? Or that they can't bear a film telling a good deal of the best bits of his message? Or that they are so puritan that they can't stand a joke on Jesus? Or that young viewers are simply Hollywood fodder?