Jesus and Jaws
A rant about the Portrayal of God in Film
Oddly enough, I don’t actually enjoy Passion Plays very much. Like “Christian movies” I find them a bit preachy- but there’s a bit more to it. After some consideration I have narrowed down my main pet peeve about any story- movie or theatrical production involving Jesus. That problem is... Jesus.
You are probably questioning every statement I have said about me being a devout Christian. Let me clarify, my problem with Jesus in a media form is that He has to be played by an actor.
I love historical movies, I love watching Queen Elizabeth come to life on screen, or Long John Silver- characters fictional and real. One thing Queen Elizabeth and Long John Silver have in common that Jesus does not- they are good old regular humans.
It’s easy for humans to act like humans! It’s natural. However, it is not natural for an imperfect human to play the part of the perfect son of the Creator of the Universe. How would you even start? I doubt they have a class in acting school called “How to play Supernatural entities”.
Because of this.. I’m always slightly disappointed in the character of Jesus. Most Passion Plays tend to center on him as the main character- and I have a really hard time sympathizing with him as my main emotional link to the plot.
He’s just some guy with perfect hair (have you ever noticed how Jesus always has amazing hair?) and he spends most of the screen time emoting about how he is the Savior. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time relating relating to that particular issue...
What made the real Jesus guy so special?
What made Jaws so terrifying?
When the movie Jaws splashed onto the screen- something groundbreaking appeared on film. Or actually.. it didn’t. Because the filmmakers had extreme difficulty getting the animatronic shark to work, they covered it up. They showcased the monster by... not showing it. Audiences were terrified, not by what they had seen, but because they filled in the blanks with their own fears.
I think the power and unearthliness of Jesus could be conveyed in the same way. Imagine a Passion Play where we relate to characters who are compelled and confused by this Savior they can’t quite grasp. He’s so big and so much more than any of us can imagine. We hear about him, we want to know him, we want to know more about him- but we can never quite get enough.
For that reason, there is only one movie on my list that portrays Jesus as a character (and I don’t like that representation either).
I will end this rant with a plea towards all the creative storytellers out there. Can’t there be a better way to insinuate the awesomeness of an almighty Lord without dressing Him in bleachy white bedsheets and hair that came out of a L ‘Oreal shampoo commercial?
Next week I will finally get to the actual reviews! Stay tuned for Top Christian Movie #4!