The Gospel of John (2014)

Movie:
David Batty
Version:
Streaming video

Reviewed by:
Rating:
4
On March 6, 2015
Last modified:March 6, 2018

Summary:

The Gospel of John is enacted by actors speaking Aramaic under the narrator who reads the King James text or the NIV text or Spanish in a 3rd version.

Not Rated. Running time: 2 hours 40 min.

Our content ratings (1-10): Violence 5; Language 5; Sex/Nudity 2.

Our star rating (1-5): 4.5

 Postr

I missed whatever advance publicity the Lumos Project put forth on this beautiful film. Released on December 1 in 2014, it thus far can be watched only on Netflix. The plan is to finish all four gospels by the end of 2015, so the next year or two should be exciting. Let us hope that the producers fare better than the other two groups that had intended to put the whole Bible on film. The New Media Bible project over thirty years ago completed just the first book of the Bible and the Gospel of Luke with its Genesis and Jesus; and the Visual Bible at the beginning of this milennium was able to finish three films before running out of money, The Gospel of Matthew,The Gospel of John, and Acts.

The director of the newest Jesus film is the noted TV producer David Batty, who knows how to get the most out of a modest budget. Except for the crowd scenes, the production values are top notch, the sets and costumes looking authentic, and the Morrocoan countryside standing in for Palestine. The text of John is read as the actors, speaking Aramaic, act out the story. At the present there are two English versions, the NIV (New International Version) read by David Harewood and the KJV (King James Version) narrated by actor Brian Cox. Soon the Spanish language “Reina Valera 1960” version will also be released.

The cast looks far more ethnic than those in most Jesus films, with the portrayal of Christ by Shakespearan actor Selva Rasalingam. He is said to be of partly Tamil descent. Although he is light-skinned, his face with its large nose certainly has a more Mediterranean look than the Jesus of other actors, with their movie star regular features. The production values are excellent, though the director might have foregone several of the longshots of the crowds arounnd John the Baptist and Jesus preaching—the no more than a hundred extras betray the modest budget. The director does a better job with the long, long Upper Room discourse of Jesus, shifting the camera around and insert cutaways to earlier scenes of the disciples while Jesus speaks.

However, though the text is strictly from John, the filmmakers could not resist the tradional urge to harmonize the four gospels—in the first chapter when the narrator reads “and the Word became flesh” we are shown Luke and Matthew’s manger scene, with the Magi joining the shepherds in adoring the newborn Child.  And in the Upper Room scene there is a brief clip in which the Supper is shown as a proto Communion Service as in the three synoptic gospels, even though the text of John itself does not indicate this. Same thing with Pilate washing his hands after giving in to the crowd’s demand that Jesus be crucified.

This new version will be more of an educational than entertainment value because it loses the immedicacy of our hearing Jesus and the other actors actually speaking the dialogue. At the present there are no chapter and verse insertions, so let us hope that in its DVD format these will be provided so that, like Visual Bible’s John it will make studying it easier. Thus far you can just watch it, which is a good first step. I recommend this, but for me it will not replace Visual Bible’s far more dramatic version. As of this writing it is available only on NetFlix, but I presume it will see a DVD release as well. It deserves a place on your shelf of other Jesus films—and makes me anticipate the release of the other three gospel films. I hope Luke will be first!

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The Gospel of John is enacted by actors speaking Aramaic under the narrator who reads the King James text or the NIV text or Spanish in a 3rd version.

12 Replies to “The Gospel of John (2014)”

  1. I have watches so any times! It is the BEST biblical movie I have ever seen! I have shown it to friends a well. Very well done!Shows Yeshua as a mans man !A much better depiction not to mention all the actor look semitic truly a breath of fresh air!

  2. Absolutely hated who they chose to portray for Jesus. He looked like a hostile middle aged man with a problem. I couldn’t relate and had to close my eyes and try to listen instead. This is not the Jesus I know. I found this casting very disturbing. Apart from that the locations etc, seemed to have been well done although I couldn’t relate to the other characters either. I found that I had to endure this film and would have switched it off if I had been watching alone. That was an awful lot of hard work and money spent on an unrelatable film that portrays Christ so badly. Incredibly disappointing!

    1. Wow, that’s a pretty strong reaction to an actor who looked far more authentic (to me) than so many others–especially the blue-eyed ones in King of Kings & The Greatest Story Ever Told. Thanks for sharing your reactions. This shows how subjective we all are in regards to actors. I wonder what you think of Ewan McGregor in The Last Days in the Desert?

    2. For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. Isaiah 53:2

    1. It certainly is, Michael. be sure to see the Visual Bible MATTHEW & ACTS. Too bad they ran out of money & they weren’t able to film more Biblical books!
      Sorry I didn’t come across your comment before!

  3. ARE ANY OTHER OF THE GOSPELS EVER GONNA COME OUT??????
    I would love to ask Mr. Batty or anyone in Production to give us an update
    BTW LOOOOOVED THIS JESUS IN THIS ONE, automatically my favorite
    We need more GOOD NEWS!!!!!

    1. Yes, in in due time, Felix–at least I hope so. The Lumo Project, producers of John, say they will bring out versions of the other 3. For more info, see http://www.lumoproject.com/. Also, there already is the Visual Bible word-for-word film MATTHEW, available from Vision Video. Unfortunately, VB went bankrupt before they could film more than the 3 fine Bible films that they did finish. I hope Lumo can stay afloat long enough to do at least Mark & Luke. You can go to their website & subscribe to their newsletter, as I just did. Thanks for your comment.

    2. The Gospel of Luke film is complete, too. It’s available on Amazon.com. The background language the actors are speaking is not Aramaic but Arabic, given that they are Moroccans. Aramaic is spoken as a day to day language in ever-decreasing numbers in Syria (1 village?) and Iraq, among some Assyrian Christians. Of course most of this is in flux, given the awful catastrophy called ISIS.

      https://www.amazon.com/Gospel-Luke-Adaptation-Gospels-Project/dp/0745968708/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1485812496&sr=8-1&keywords=the+gospel+of+luke+dvd

      1. Patrick, thank you for this good news! I knew some time ago that LUKE was in production, but had not heard that it is finished & available. I’ll have to check it out soon. I love this gospel especially because of the parables. I appreciate your note.

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