Son of God Movie Review
by Nic Haros, Director of Facebook Apostles.
February 28, 2014
Yes. Now I can say that I’ve actually seen the Son of God movie and I can wholeheartedly recommend it to Catholics, Christians, and non-believers alike. The scenes and dialogue from the movie (and the emotions it invoked) are still now playing on my mind. I do have some thoughts on the movie, which I’d like to share.
In summary, I was awestruck by the performance of Roma Downey (co-producer) as Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Though missed by most, I think, this movie not only experienced the life of Jesus and His mission on earth, but also shed some light on the story as perceived by Mary. I will develop that idea in a bit.
First, I’d like to respond to some of thoughts shared by you, Page Fans of Facebook Apostles. All in all, those who have seen it have had a very good experience watching the film and most have liked it. Some have “criticized” the movie (falsely, I think) on a number of points.
Most respondents have drawn comparison to other Jesus movies such as the Passion of the Christ and Jesus of Nazareth. I think such comparisons (favorably and unfavorably) are unfair. All three are very different movies though the subject matter is the same. The Jesus of Nazareth movie was, in my opinion, a narrative of the events in the New Testament. The Passion of the Christ was a cerebral film—it appealed just as much to our psyche as to our emotions. Son of God, I think, was different. Of the three movies, SOG presented the most hopeful ending and message. The joy and peace of living and loving the Beatitudes is made known to following Christians to come and clearly offered a path of redemption by Christ. The message of this movie was the universal call to all to Evangelize. Not so with the other two films.
Some respondents found “key scenes” of Jesus’ life missing, which was the basis of some criticisms. Again, I don’t think this is fair. No movie (religious or otherwise) is 100% complete, lets say, compared to the book. SOG is no exception. Personally, I did not miss any of the other elements of Jesus’ 3-year ministry; what was presented in this film was enough. For those wanting a verbatim translation, perhaps you can listen to the New Testament on Audio Tape. That would in fact be 100% complete. It is not a point to criticize, I think, because of some missing scenes.
Some (again incorrectly) have felt that the film was not for Catholics but was really intended for Protestants. Comments were made about Jesus’ words at the Last Supper. They suggested that no true words of consecration were spoken, and hence, the scene projected a communion service and not a meal of the actual Body and Blood of Christ. To those, you obviously have not seen the movie. In this scene Jesus specifically says the words, “This is my Body… This is my Blood. The theology of the true presence was conveyed—not only in words but later confirmed by Peter who also offers the Eucharist as the real presence of Christ. Those who think it was not portrayed need to first see the movie.
One suggested that Jesus looked like a 70’s stoned out rock star. Yes the actor for Jesus was a handsome man and the crowds in the audience were attracted to him, Jesus was not on drugs. Any transcendent look on Jesus’ face was due to the fact that His nature was both human and divine. As I haven’t yet met anyone who is also divine, I would suggest Jesus’ so-called, “dazed glances” were in fact an inner state of Rhapsody or Ecstasy and was always in a deep contemplation of the mysteries of God. Drug use? No, as suggested by a priest who commented on this point.
A very vocal few said that there were doctrinal “errors” in the film and that it should be shunned because of that. Though I am not a Theologian or Doctor of the Church, I do nonetheless have a solid knowledge of our Catholic Faith and Sacred Scripture and I personally did not see anything amiss. For those who held this opinion, I pushed back and no one could point to any one specific scene or dialogue in defense of their wild generalization. Also, and to preserve FBA’s reputation as a genuine, Catholic Page I surfed the web for any negative statements about the film from the Vatican, the U.S.C.C.B., or any other formal body of the Catholic Church. Further, for those that know Father Jonathan Morris (A RC priest in the NY Archdiocese) he has been on the cable news shows praising this film. In some negative comments I detected a “subtle” attempt to deliberately sway people away from the movie. What could be their motive in desiring this?
Enough of user comments, here’s my read. Three key scenes made the movie for me. First was right after Jesus stood up in the Temple to read Isaiah and concluded by saying, “Today this prophecy has been fulfilled in your hearing.” The Scribes and Pharisees were scandalized and this scene captured the first moments of friction between Jesus and the Rabbinical Jews. But what follows is key. Immediately after this scene, Jesus confronts his Mother who already has a sad look on her face. He tells her, “It has begun!” My sense here was that Mary knew all along what Jesus’ true mission was and that it would lead to death on a cross. Though postponing this moment of reality, Mary surely saw it coming. More so, she was resigned to it. This is part of the reason we say Mary was co-mediatrix. Not only did she know—she willed it.
The next scene with Mary occurs during the Way of the Cross-. Jesus stumbles with the cross right in front of Mary on his way. Though quite besides herselkf, Mary is resigned to help Jesus fulfill His mission. In this scene Mary is seen not looking to comfort her suffering Son, but to egg him on to Calvary. This is seen when Jesus kisses Mary’s forehead and Mary, helps lift and steady the cross on Jesus’ shoulder. Yes, Mary Mother of God cooperated with Jesus in His mission.
Finally, the movie ends with the song, “Mary did you know?” My answer based on this movie (and doctrine) is YES, Mary DID know. And not only did she know in advance she was all-in. Remember the verse, “And Mary pondered all things in her heart.”
I’d also like to suggest that Son of God is a political story and well as a religious story. The three competing groups (Romans, High Priests, and Jesus Followers) where intensely involved in the mother of all power-struggles. This message is made in the scene of the final minutes of Christ’s death on the cross. Here, Jesus is praying to His Father for forgiveness for the Romans and Jews. Meanwhile, the wife of Pilate is simultaneously shown praying to an idol of a Roman god while Caiaphas prays to the now fulfilled Torah. Guess who comes out on top in this battle of princes and principalities? I think you already know before going into the theatre but watching it play out so dramatically is a key slant from this movie.
I will continue to watch comments and your sharing is important. But please, don’t go by heresy—we are looking from you to respond with your personal and direct response to this story of the Christ. Until otherwise noted, I endorse, recommend, and urge all to see this new movie.