Warning: Spoilers ahead!
It’s my Spring Break and I’ve been home all week! I’ve absolutely loved spending time with my family. Today, practitioner my mom and I went to see the movie Son of God–my mom had gotten free tickets to go. I didn’t know much about the movie but thought it would probably be good. Well…I was wrong.
As my mom and I left the movie theater, cough I asked her what she thought. She said, “Well I don’t want to critique it and pick it apart…” Well I have no such reservations ;) I’m not being picky just for the sake of being critical, but if you make a movie about the most important and influential man in the entire world, who is also the one man I love the most, and also happens to be the living God, you better get it right. And this movie, unfortunately, got it terribly wrong.
John’s Gospel: The movie starts with John in exile on Patmos, saying the words that start his Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This movie was framed as though it was the life of Jesus according to John. However, the movie pulled from every single Gospel. In theory, I don’t have a problem with a movie about the life of Jesus that pulls from all Gospels (although I think the danger is that you emphasize some parts over others). However, I didn’t like that they made it seem like it was John’s story, beginning and ending with him, and then they did not stay true to John’s Gospel. For example, this movie included a Nativity scene (not in John) and also included the Eucharist (not in John), while not including Jesus washing the disciple’s feet, which is unique to John.
The movie begins with some quick scenes from a variety of Bible stories, including the Garden of Eden, Moses, Noah, Abraham, and David. They were pretty cheesy, but other than that they were fine.
Nativity Scene: Then we get to the Nativity. Oh boy. The Magi were there along with the shepherds to meet baby Jesus, which is sooo inaccurate! I thought we all knew better! In Matthew, the Magi come to Herod and ask him where they can find the king of the Jews, who has already been born, completely taking out any possibility that they were there along with the shepherds (talked about in Luke) right after the birth. Also, young Mary was SO white. Mary was a Middle Eastern Jew, not a super white person in the midst of Middle Eastern Jews. Here is grown-up Mary (who is just as white as young Mary):
Picture from IMDB
All the White people: Speaking of Jews, did you guys know Jesus was a Jew? Now I understand that we don’t know what Jesus looks like, but I’m pretty sure he was not super attractive (see Isaiah 53:2) with light-ish brown hair and Crest-whitened teeth. Jesus was pretty much the only man in this movie who was super European, had perfect teeth, and had long hair.
Picture from IMDB
Seriously? Does this Jesus look a little familiar? Can’t place why he looks so familiar…
Painting by Warner Sallman
Ok so asides from my issue with the European Jesus and Mary, was the rest of the movie good? Unfortunately not.
Biblical Accuracy: I am a stickler for Biblical accuracy and apparently this movie was not. I understand that you have to take some creative licenses to fill out the story–I wasn’t upset with the creative licenses taken in The Passion of the Christ, I thought they were good. But this movie made some changes that made things at best cheesy and at worst woefully inaccurate to Scripture.
Sermons: A small inaccuracies that was kinda funny was that Jesus gives the Sermon on the Plain (from Luke) on a mountain, and he gives the Sermon on the Mount (from Matthew) on a plain.
Jesus’ Words: A lot of Jesus’ words were taken from the Bible but were not exactly what is recorded in the Gospels, which I did not like at all. The second you start tweaking Jesus’ words, you start inserting your own opinion and theology, which is just not ok.
Mary Magdalene: Something that I liked in this movie was the Mary Magdalene was shown to be one of the disciples and prominently traveled with Jesus. But she was the only woman with them (it was Jesus, the twelve, and Mary traveling around) which is inaccurate not only because we know that a group of women traveled with Jesus and cared for his needs, but also because a woman would never travel alone with a group of men. It’s completely unrealistic and would have seen as completely inappropriate.
Woman Caught in Adultery: Speaking of women, this movie’s depiction of the woman caught in adultery was terrible. So the woman is thrown down in front of Jesus and a Pharisee asks Jesus what should be done. Jesus does not write in the dirt. Instead, he picks up a rock and raises his arm, looking like he’s about to throw it at the woman, and then, after a long dramatic pause, he turns to the men about to stone the woman and says, “I’ll give my rock to whoever here hasn’t ever sinned.” Was the original story not exciting enough for you? Really?
Destroy the Temple: This part was HILARIOUS. Jesus is walking out of the temple in Jerusalem and stops by a little girl. He kneels down to her, smiling. I assumed this was when he was going to say, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” But NO. Instead, he asks this little girl, “Do you see these buildings?” And then he playfully tells her, “They will all be destroyed! Every last one!” or something to that effect. Haha my mom and I were laughing so hard! Who playfully tells a child that he is going to destroy the temple and thinks it’s just so cute!?
The lack of the Demonic: If you read any chunk of the Gospels, you will find a ton of demonic activity and spiritual warfare. Son of God did not include Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness and it also did not include a single case of Jesus driving out a demon which, by the way, is one of the main parts of Jesus’ ministry. In John, Jesus even calls Satan the prince of this world on two different occasions. In The Passion, I really liked that Satan was in the Garden and that demons were shown tormenting Judas. Son of God did not mention demons at all.
Caiaphas and Pilate: The Passion of the Christ got a lot of criticism for being anti-semetic, so this movie tried really hard to steer clear of any anti-semetism. But what this resulted in was a depiction of Caiaphas (the high priest) as someone who just didn’t want his party (aka Passover) ruined. It’s not that he actually cared about or was bothered by Jesus, but he was scared of Pontius Pilate getting mad at Jesus and ruining Passover. This movie definitely made Pilate the “bad guy,” and while I understand why the directors made this decision, it’s not Biblical. In every single Gospel, the bad guys are the Jewish leaders. Let’s be clear, the New Testament is not anti-semetic: Jesus is a Jew, all his disciples are Jews, Jesus very clearly says that he is bringing his message first to the lost nation of Israel, all the Gospel writers are Jews (besides Luke), with Matthew being an ardent follower of the law and quite possibly a Pharisee, and Paul is most definitely a Pharisee. But with that being said, Pilate is not the bad guy. In every single Gospel, Pilate is not the one who wants Jesus crucified:
In Matthew, Pilate’s wife warns him not to kill Jesus because of a dream she has had about him. This causes Pilate to be afraid. Then later this is what happens in Matthew 27:23-25:
They all answered, “Crucify him!”
“Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”
All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”
Mark 15 shows Pilate being “amazed” at Jesus and he hands him over to be crucified only to “satisfy the crowd.”
In Luke 23:4, Pilate says, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.”
And the in John 19, Pilate also says that he finds no basis to charge Jesus, is afraid of him, and tries to get him freed.
Again, I believe that each of these Gospel writers are placing blame specifically on the Jewish leaders (including Caiaphas), not at all the Jewish people. However, the blame is never put on Pilate. Again, I understand that the producers of Son of God decided to do this in order to avoid criticism that they were being anti-semetic. But the changes they made were just not Biblically accurate.
Jesus’ Complete Lack of Personality: My mom and I agreed that this was the worst part of the movie. Jesus had no personality. He just seemed to wander around, confused and sad during his whole life. He was monotonous, boring, and really just had no personality. He was never seen joking around or affectionate with people. It was so bad that as Jesus was being beaten and crucified, I didn’t feel anything. I bawled my eyes out at The Passion because I truly felt that I was witnessing my Lord and Savior dying, and it was incredibly heartbreaking. In Son of God, I felt like I was seeing some guy I barely knew dying and it was kinda sad but not sad enough to make me cry a single tear. And if you know me, I cry at EVERYTHING.
All in all, I would not recommend this movie. Let me know when there’s a movie about the life of Jesus based closely on Scripture :)
So have you seen this movie? What are your thoughts? Do you think I’m being too picky or did you feel the same way?