First – let me say if you are a Biblical literalist – you will hate this movie. It is about Jesus’ experience in the desert after his baptism and it does not, except in a very general way, correspond to Matthew, Mark, and Luke. That said, the writers imagine quite a story and it is thought provocative. Ewan McGregor (of Moulin Rouge! and the first Star Wars series, among many other movies) stars as Yeshua. He also stars as the Devil! Jesus enters the desert unsure if he is ready to begin his ministry. The author imagines what experiences he had there that solidified his resolve, all the while being tempted by the devil.
This is a very human Jesus (although the movie leaves no doubt that he is the Son of God). He struggles. He wonders. He is curious. He tries to figure out what to do.
In the desert Jesus encounters a family. It has a father, an older teenage son, and a dying mother. The tension is between father and son just as Jesus feels a tension between himself and his father in heaven. It is not a warm feel good story. But I think the author does an interesting job imagining what it must have been like for Jesus during those forty days.
The geography is quite beautiful. The acting is solid. It is a thinking based versus action based movie. I enjoyed the film.
Did it happen like that? No, probably not. But I always believe the Gospels are like a connect the dots picture and part of it calls on us to fill it in. What do we think Jesus was like between 12-30 years of age? What do we think he was like when he wasn’t teaching and preaching? How did he feel about carpentry and living in Nazareth? How did he feel about the Romans and the rest of the world? How much did Jesus know in his earthly ministry?
I also very much like that McGregor played both Yeshua and Satan. While I think the forces of darkness appear many ways in our world, we should not think of it just as an external force. Just as we have a still small voice within urging us to do what is right, we also have another voice urging us to do wrong. I found it an effective portrayal of good versus evil.
This is a fictional movie. But a good one. I recommend it within those parameters.
Have you seen it? What did you think, if so.
Until next time,