It is very difficult to criticize a story about God; to criticize a representation of something that will no doubt affect and move millions across the planet. It is something that could make you feel like you are refusing the divine word of God by noting problems with the script, let alone the acting, direction and representation of something that is deemed holy. Son of God is a feature film that is a collection and a climax of the History Channel’s ambitious and comprehensive 10 hour series simply entitled The Bible produced by the mighty Mark Burnett.
This rendition of the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ easily settles in between the highly orthodox Passion of The Christ and the many low budget Jesus films that have gone before it. Because of this, it can be described as a balanced and realistic version of the life and death of this prophet and those who followed him.
This rendition follows the life, teachings and crucifixion of the Christian Prophet Jesus the Christ (Diogo Morgado) and the experiences of his disciples, particularly the personal experiences of Peter (Darwin Shaw), Mary Magdalene (Amber Rose Revah) and John (Sebastian Knapp).
The truth is that everyone has their own image of what Jesus should look like, most people can only imagine him as a long haired, bearded Caucasian that has been painted on relicts, European art, frescos and icons all across the orthodox world. The fact is he was a middle-eastern Hebrew who looked more like a Syrian than a German. It is exceptionally difficult to put 33 years of life and work into a two and a half hour film, however much you try and include you will always lose something. In regards to the deep symbolism, the mass number of teaching and the ‘stumbling block’ of the Christian faith, there is no way that you can take a lifetime of learning and put it into such a short time.
It was hard to find a personal attachment or attraction to the Jesus of this film. When he does engage he is sincere and warm but it feels like the majority of the time he is being out-acted by his disciples while he is seen aimlessly dreaming in the background. The acting of the supporting cast is very good, it brings a realness to the disciples that brings a greater understanding of who they are as people. Pilate is rather terrifying. The largest barrier that prevents the connection with this Jesus is the accent of Morgado. As a Portuguese soapy star his accent is unclear and drifts in and out without holding true to one style of speaking. This unfortunately makes it hard to believe his acting and overshadows the overall message. The dialogue was not used within the traditional scenes and sequences as recorded in the Bible. At first the viewers might find this rather disjointed, especially as one who has experience and knowledge of the Bible. Although, once this discomfort is subdued, the viewer is forced to stop predicting the next scene or the outcome of the film but rather pay attention to the message the director wished to bring across. If you are a believer, it also forces you to reconsider the meaning of the words and teachings.
Overall it was aesthetically pleasing, other than Jesus’ hair, the production design, Moroccan setting and make-up made it believable and authentic. Even the obvious computer generated Jerusalem was easy to forgive. On a whole, it was not the most inspiring rendition of the Jesus story that has been created but it is a much better rendition than other biblical films. Throughout the credits ran sequences of the series and gives the impression that this is much more suited and effective as a miniseries, as opposed to a lengthy feature film that feels more like a trailer to the miniseries.