‘Son of God'

The evangelistic fervor of producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey and director Christopher Spencer is evident throughout Son of God, the culmination of their very popular History Channel miniseries The Bible. But, alas, so bombastic is the filmmaking, so lacking in nuance, freshness of approach, and richness of characterization, that I felt I had been clamped to my theater seat by a muscular, stentorian preacher who could only bellow passages from the Gospel of John (the script’s main source, though not to the exclusion of the other three accounts), while never once persuading or moving me. At the same time, there is also a certain insecurity detectable in the movie. Son of God has the dubious distinction of being both headlong and wavering, one-dimensional yet somewhat dodgy in its adaptation of a testament that is usually lucid, sometimes mysterious, but always vibrant.

Most of the familiar passages are on the screen but feel truncated. Director Spencer seems to have taken to heart the old Hollywood dictum “Cut to the chase,” so that every scene begins near its climax without the buildup that would make it more effective. For instance, in the Lazarus episode (John 11), the text tells us that the dead man’s sister reproached Jesus for not arriving in time to cure her brother, and the Lord “raged at his own spirit and harrowed himself” (in...

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About the Author

Richard Alleva has been reviewing movies for Commonweal since 1990.