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Old 02-10-2004, 04:34 PM   #1
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Anyone Seen The JESUS Film?

With all the talk about The Passion, the NY Times has an interesting article about the Jesus film, reporting the claim that it is the most watch movie ever.

'The Passion's' Precedent: The Most-Watched Film Ever?

AST month, Outreach Inc., a Christian marketing company retained by Mel Gibson, sent a DVD trailer of Mr. Gibson's new film "The Passion of the Christ" to thousands of churches, urging pastors to promote "what may well be the greatest outreach opportunity in the past 2,000 years."

That may not be a category that gets much recognition at the Oscars. But evangelical groups have good reason to believe that Gibson's movie could become an important tool for their recruiting efforts. In fact, according to some missionary organizations, for the last couple of decades the most powerful tool they've had at their disposal is another film "Jesus," a 1979 Warner Brothers release that has shown a remarkable ability to attract people to the Christian faith. The movie is all but forgotten in Hollywood, but it has been screened in so many big cities and tiny villages in so many countries that it is sometimes described as the most watched movie of all time. Campus Crusade for Christ credits it with saving 176 million souls.

For a film with a now-mythic reputation, its beginnings were less than auspicious. Bill Bright, an Oklahoma-born confectioner who would go on to found the Campus Crusade for Christ, spent a good chunk of his early career in Los Angeles trying to convert Hollywood stars. He dreamed of creating a powerful film about the life of Christ, and tried unsuccessfully to persuade Cecil B. DeMille to direct a talkie remake of his 1927 silent film, "The King of Kings."

In 1976 Bright stumbled upon a new collaborator. The British producer John Heyman wasn't an obvious choice for a Jesus biopic: a German Jew, he had previously produced "Twinky," in which Charles Bronson plays a pornographic novelist married to a 16-year old. But Mr. Heyman had also produced a series of 15-minute shorts based on the Bible, and he and Bright became partners. Mr. Heyman's motivation, as he now describes it, was financial: "I believed the best-selling book in the world would sell a lot of 8-millimeter and 16-millimeter films."

Both patron and producer committed themselves to historical verisimilitude. The film was shot on location in Israel, and every day, film was sent to a panel of biblical scholars for inspection. "We were required to refilm three days' work," Mr. Heyman recalled in a recent e-mail message, "because we had shown eucalyptus trees in a variety of shots. Eucalyptus trees were introduced to Palestine very much later." The British stage actor Brian Deacon was selected, among other reasons, for his "ethnically correct" olive complexion. The cast is strangely filled with Jewish-sounding names: Rivka Neuman (Mary), Leonid Weinstein (James), Eli Cohen (John the Baptist). For extras, Mr. Heyman cast crowds of Yemenite Jews because, as Paul Eshleman, the director of the organization that distributes the film, told The Christian Century magazine in 2001, "their facial features have changed the least over 2,000 years."

Unlike biblical epics such as DeMille's "Ten Commandments" and George Stevens's "Greatest Story Ever Told," which add psychological back story and distracting celebrity cameos, "Jesus" presents itself as a literal adaptation. After an incongruous shot of planet Earth from space, screen text announces that the film is a "documentary taken entirely from the Gospel of Luke." A narrator reads from that text and then mysteriously disappears midway through the film. Little effort is taken to render Jesus as a three-dimensional character: his dialogue mostly consists of unabridged passages of scripture, and he's barely shown doing anything other than performing miracles and delivering speeches. In terms of special effects, the film offers poofs of smoke and gauzy halos to suggest miracles and angels; a hissing snake and a booming voiceover represent the devil. In the scene in which the Romans beat Jesus, their punches obviously don't connect.

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Old 02-10-2004, 04:52 PM   #2
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I don't think it will be out in the theaters intil February 25th which is Ash Wednesday. I hoping to see it, if it comes to my local theater.

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Old 02-10-2004, 04:55 PM   #3
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The Jesus film has been out for years
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Old 02-10-2004, 04:58 PM   #4
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Yep I've seen it - from all the hype, I'm betting it will take it's place...
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Old 02-10-2004, 09:12 PM   #5
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Nbc, I have never heard of the movie you're talking about.
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Old 02-10-2004, 09:17 PM   #6
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If you know anyone affiliated with Campus Crusade for Christ - they can probably get you a copy.
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Old 02-10-2004, 09:43 PM   #7
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Originally posted by nbcrusader
If you know anyone affiliated with Campus Crusade for Christ - they can probably get you a copy. I saw a "Campus Crusade for Christ" poster on the student activities board at the lunch line.
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Old 02-10-2004, 11:59 PM   #8
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Yeah some organization mailed it to every student when I was in college. I watched about half an hour and was bored. To me it's just a hard subject to portray on film. I just thought it was so cliched with the halos and what not. I wanted something deeper, I don't know I pretty much agreed with the author of the article.

I've yet to see a movie about Christ that even came close to doing justice. The Judas project was terrible...but I'm looking forward to Passion.
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Old 02-13-2004, 02:39 PM   #9
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I've never heard of it. I've heard plenty of hype about Mel Gibson's film though, but who hasn't?
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Old 03-07-2004, 03:33 PM   #10
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Hi, i'm sort of affiliated with Campus Crusade...i go to meetings...i know the local where I am...
And i must say, while the Jesus film may not be impressive by Western standards, it is very effective in third-world countries, where many people have not seen any other movies.

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