Author Philip Pullman, in an interview, spoke of the power of myth. He quoted C.S. Lewis as saying a myth’s power is irrelevant to the way it is told. This is what comes to mind while watching Son of God. While the movie offers no new insights, the story is such a powerful one that you are moved irrespective of style, effects or acting.
Adapted from a mini-series called The Bible, the film tells the story of Jesus. It is a straightforward, linear telling of the tale. Starting with a little of the Old Testament, including Adam, Eve, Moses, Samson and Abraham, Son of God then goes to the birth of Jesus in a stable and the gifts of the Magi.
Son of God picks up the action 33 years later to Jesus recruiting followers. As his followers grow, the Jewish religious leaders, the Pharisees, get worried that Jesus will incite a rebellion. When he is hailed as the saviour or messiah, the Pharisees feel they should get rid of Jesus. Son of God follows the traditional Jesus story, including his miracles, the beatitudes, the Passover meal, the passion, the scourging, the death on the cross and the resurrection.
Even though the story is told by John, his apostle, Son of God doesn’t closely follow the Gospel according to St. John. Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea at the time, is given a larger role. Even though traditionally Pilate has been shown to be sympathetic to Jesus, in this film he comes across as a brutal oppressor, which makes his reluctance to condemn Jesus more difficult to understand.
Jesus smiles a lot in Son of God; he is not the tortured, conflicted saviour of Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ. Satan and his temptations do not make an appearance in the film. Though Judas’ role is not substantial, he again comes across as misguided and one who never intended Jesus harm. We also know nothing regarding the person, Mary Magdalene, though she is the only woman by Jesus’ side, the one who finds the empty tomb and the one who first sees the resurrected Christ. Actually the only character who comes across as a well-rounded one is Pilate.
The entire cast from Diogo Morgado as Jesus Christ, Amber Rose Revah as Mary Magdalene and Sebastian Knapp as John to Joe Wredden as Judas and Greg Hicks as Pilate is efficient.
Son of God is a competent telling of Jesus’ story even if we know more of Pilate’s concerns than the ones of Christ or his followers.
Director: Christopher Spencer
Cast: Diogo Morgado, Roma Downey, Amber Rose Revah
Storyline: The story of Jesus Christ’s life
Bottomline: Straightforward retelling