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« Film Review - "Jesus of Montreal" | Main | Theology & Film - Podcast Lecture 5 »

August 07, 2007


Katrina Freeston

How would I shoot Jesus? Back-to-front. I'd focus on the nativity story to emphasise Jesus' humanity but flash forward to scenes from later in his life that stress his divinity (healing, calming storm, transfiguration, death & resurrection). Make people realise the figure on the cross was someone's baby but also that when Mary held the squirming, crying Jesus she was craddling God himself.

Angie Bulic

I like Katrina's idea but I would rather shoot Jesus symbollically (as opposed to a literal representation) so that i could create a likeable contemporary character that people of our society could relate to. I'd take scenes from the real story and somehow create 21st Century equivalents.

In this way, i would challenge the preconcieved idea's of the contemporary layman, by showing them a glimpse of the Jesus i know and love.

I would use humour and subtle parallels to engage with a range of audiences - from people who don't know God at all to amateur theologians! haha :)

Todd Janus

I like both of the above ideas. I think I would like to create a film that explores the childhood of Jesus. The part of his life that is not written in the N.T. I think that also in the Christ films Jesus has been portrayed as a very serius character who occasionally is seen to laugh or cry but only for a brief scene. If we are created in the image of God, then I would like to see some humour coming from Jesus, since he is God and the authour of humour! However, in this I would like to see Jesus as being serious about his divinity and not jest at the expense of himself.

Rachelle Marcos

If I were to shoot Jesus, I would definitely portray Jesus' humanity as well as His diety because He's 100% God and 100% human. I want the audience to feel that He's divine but yet relatable. A Jesus that likes to have fun, likeable, charismatic yet humble, compassionate, and powerful at the same time. So, my aim is to get the audience to fall in life with the character of Jesus. It's a good idea to show that Jesus has His struggles as well (eg. when He was about to be crucified, praying in the garden of Getsemane). I would also try to use the message Bible as the reference for the lines of the script.

Kasie Carpenter

Shooting Jesus, for me, would depend on the audience to whom I would be wanting to communicate to. There are so many aspects and focuses that you can capture, as can be seen by the differences above, and all of them legitimate. So, the approach to shooting Jesus would depend on what my main message is that I desire to be imparted into the lives of those viewing the film. For example, let's say my intended audience was Youth, mostly Grade 9 up. What I observe in their generation right now is a lack of hope, purpose, encouragement, and love. WHen it comes to shooting Jesus for that specific group of people, then, I would make an effort that those areas are effectively communicated for where each young person is at in light of Jesus Christ. Another example, let's use young adults. I observe struggles of lonliness, depression, and containment. One focus on shooting Jesus for a young adult audience could be the victory we have in the cross of Jesus Christ. As well as, freedom.

THere is SO much to Jesus Christ, who He is and what He did. I mean, I can't get enough of talking about His Word and the amount of understanding we are able to gain for our lives by it, let alone be able to bring to light before others all the amazing understandings, truths, revelations, etc. in God for a single film.


I must admit that I have never really thought about what kind of Jesus film I would create should I have the opportunity. However, I do like the above ideas; especially that of addressing particular issues in our present culture and generation as underlying themes for a film. I guess the process of film-making is ultimately a creative task; one where there is plenty of artistic licence. So when making a Christ film there is essentially a balance of the creative, or imagination, (which God has given us) and that of being truthful and authentic to the story of Christ – that it is not a made-up story, but an ‘event’; a life. Shane had a valid point that when making a film the audience needs to want to see it – that there needs to be an element of surprise; which is hard to do for such a well known story.

gordon millerick

I like Katrina comment, thought, "craddling God himself" in the flesh. This opened up a whole new thought pattern for me. Lets work on this theme, but from Mary's eyes. Craddling God in the flesh at birth (Matt 2:11). Mary craddled Jesus at the temple (Luke 2:21), Mary craddling Jesus for the prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:28-32) and again with the prophecy that "a sword would pierce Mary's heart" (Luke 2:33-35). Mary would craddle Jesus as he grew with wisdom beyond his years (Luke 2:40), and if Jesus even skun his knees Mary would be there to craddle him. As a 12 year old at the temple, Mary would have craddled an obedient Jesus (Luke 2:51). When Jesus turned water into wine at the Cana wedding, before his time was ready, Mary would have craddled him for not bringing shame on the wedding (John 2:4-5) Mary was there to Craddle Jesus at the cross (John 19;25). At Jesus's removal from the cross. Shooting Jesus through the eyes of a mothers love, alwys there to support to love and to cherish. The wisdom of a mother gained from God in the flesh, God in the spirit, God our creator.

Wigand Sugandi

If I could shoot Jesus, I will make a film Jesus who lives in nowadays world... I could imagine if Jesus lives in this generation.. He will be a contextual man, he will reach the "punkers", he will reach this rebellion, fatherless generation... Of course, there is "new pharessees and the teacher of law" who expert in the theory of the bible but never lives what they teach and make everything complicated... Jesus will incarnate with this generation and culture (incarnate diff with compromise).. I believe Jesus is relevant (not like the churches that sometimes not relevant with this generation)...... Moreover, In this movie, I will shoot simplicity of Jesus, the humanity of Jesus as well as Diety of Jesus.. He is 100 % human like us.. he is tempted, only he is not sin!!! I think this film might valid for this generation.. it might be good impact and evangelise for this generation who has got tired with the "church" with their "confusing doctrinal" stuff...

Rebecca Lowe

I would love to portray a modern day contemporary Jesus who challenges society and the government of today but who also hangs out with "sinners", goes to hospitals to heal the sick, he'd raise the dead and liberate drug addicts and prostitutes but he'd also be tempted himself yet without sinning. My focus would be on the humanness of Jesus because too many people see him as “holier than thou” and his life and ministry as almost unattainable. I would like to help culture realise the truth of Jesus' relationship with God and how powerful it is.

Matthew Lowe

I think there is an amazing opportunity to re-create the life of Jesus now. With advances in film and computer technology we can present the supernatural, such as divine miracles and the enemy (our antagonist) in exciting ways never before seen. People are fascinated by the supernatural and this would add a dimension to the film that would help drive the story and appeal to our Fx's driven market.

If I were to shoot Jesus it would be a literal presentation with flashes forward to the present, to emphasize the ramifications of His ministry and to show that it is ongoing. I like Todd's idea of filling in the blanks, using our creativity to present a Jesus that we can relate to (his humanity) and a Jesus who is on a divine mission (his divinity). The balance between the two is important, but above all the audience needs to relate to him and the purpose of his ministry. The message of the film must be clear!

Others have mentioned that it would be good to see the story through other characters perspectives. I don't think this will carry an entire film but in small doses would add to it. Some flashbacks of such moments would be powerful when Jesus is on the cross?
How Jesus affects those around him, his mother for example, would definitely be worth seeing and would add depth to the film. It would also make the key moments later in the film much more powerful, as those key players are faced with failure, e.g. Peter, and watching the crucifixion, e.g. Jesus' mother Mary.

One thing that would be a must in shooting Jesus is to go against the typical presentations of Jesus. Shane discussed how Mary M is always a prostitute. Jesus has often been a blonde, blue-eyed man, and Judas is usually a dark and sinister character. I would like to bring a new aspect to these characters, making them more human and less stereotypic, more depth, yet biblically sound.

Finally, think of your favourite epic film? The music, the look, what went into making it great? This is the life of our saviour and if I were to shoot Jesus, it would have to be epic, no shortcuts! I can just hear the intensity of the score as Jesus trashes the temple like a madman. There is so much potential in this film, so much to consider.
All the qualities that make each genre appealing need to be included so the message is received by all.


For some reason, while reading Angie's comment about symbolically portraying Jesus as a likable contemporary character, I thought, how could we use the advantage of distance (ie. not a literal representation of Jesus) to explore Jesus' everyday interaction with people? In the last few years the question "What Would Jesus Do?" has become a popular catch phrase but, what do we really think Jesus would do in any given situation? How do we think he would react when a friend confides in him that he is gay? What do we think Jesus would do when he discovers two of his unmarried friends are living together? I think it would be very interesting to explore this idea in a movie. Granted, there would be a lot of room for creative license which could be a bit... interesting. But I think this would be another good way to explore an aspect of Jesus' humanity.

Brittany Tovado

Although not entirely original, I would probably not literally represent events in the gospel narrative, nor Jesus himself. Perhaps I could represent Jesus as a colour (or another symbol). But if we go with the colour idea, I would "shoot Jesus" through other people. So, it would be a group of characters in a variety of circumstances that demonstrate or experience the facets of the character of Jesus and the colour (we'll say yellow) could be present in the background or the scarf that the person is wearing, etc. In so doing, Christ could be represented through his body, us.

Prisca Post

I believe that shooting a film about Jesus' life is a very hard and complicated thing to do. I agree with Rebecca that with today's technology we can make the supernatural happenings look very real. Also do I agree with Kasie that to produce a film about the life of Jesus we need to make it valuable for the audience its created for.
I would not produce a movie in which Jesus' whole life is portrayed. The first 30 years of Jesus in the bible are hardly described , so focussing on this would leave us with just guessing/ sciencefiction. I would focus on Jesus' his ministry and expand on the facts that have been given to us in the bible and the way we can interpreted this in our society. The problem that arises here is that the interpretation of Jesus' life is very personal and different for everyone.
The portrayal of the deity of Christ would be the hardest thing to do. How do we as humans describe God, I think this is impossible.

Jessica Edward-Paul

I've never really thought about how I'd shoot Jesus in a film. However, by reading a few of the other posts, I have a few ideas. I liked Todd's idea of portraying Jesus' humanity but in a way that shows some non-traditional sides of him - like having fun or portraying a sense of humour! I'm sure Jesus has a sense of humour and that he demonstrated that on Earth. But I also like what Drea said about keeping a distance between the character and Jesus. This way it is possible to place 'Jesus' in a contemporary setting without being disrespectful to the original story. I also liked what Brittany suggested - portraying Jesus through people. This way, it is possible to bring across several aspects of Jesus' character and how he relates to people. I guess the main theme that I would want to get across in the process of 'shooting Jesus' is that he can be relevant and real to everybody everywhere at every time.

Ruth Norma

As discussed in the above comments, I believe that, like any story, one needs a purpose or to keep in mind an intended audience or focus. Prisca wrote something very interesting which I don’t think has been made into a Hollywood movie just yet. Movies such as “An Inconvenient Truth” or “The Bra Boys”, Prisca said that she would focus on Jesus’ ministry and expand on those facts. In saying this, shooting a Jesus film can be very contemporary and be very relatable if it could be shot in a documentary-style film. The story of Jesus can be told with interviews with REAL people who have received Christ into their lives and REAL footage of churches around the globe and all the effects it is happening on communities and in people’s lives. A story can be told through the eyes of the people for the people. It could also include scenes of actors playing Jesus in theatres (such as Jesus Christ Super Star) or Nativity plays to keep a very “live” and existent theme. I think when one sees Bono (from the band U2) telling us how God has intervened in Africa and giving children hope, it inspired many non-believer fans to further investigate this God Bono spoke so highly of. In saying this, if I could shoot Jesus, it would be in a way that can relate to everyone and be evangelical as well as showing all the good that has come about from Jesus’ crucifixion and the message of hope for all.

Pete Hordern

How would I portray Jesus...?
I feel like saying I agree with Todd, Katrina and others and finish it there. However I'll try and build.
My first thought of 'how I would portray' was physically. Would he be of a stereotypical arabic Jew, which isn't the usual representation, but rather an anglo-saxon bearded guy with hair to his shoulders parted in the middle? And I think the choice of the physical portrayal would obviously depend on what and how you choose to present Christ to this day and age.
I'd agree with Matt Lowe, we do have the technology to present a very fascinating story of Christ, and that we should be aiming to show His humanity along with His Divinity while making it relevant to the audience. Would I do as others suggest with humour, intensity and genuiness? As Drea suggested would I portray Jesus' responce to issues we face in todays society e.g. homosexuality?
I'm not completly sure. If I was to portray Jesus in a film, I would aim not to present Jesus as relevant if it were to compromise who He really was or His mission. But then again it comes back to the question of how you are portraying His humanity and Divinity. Should I show Him through the eyes of His disciples, or through the eyes of tax collectors or those standing by?
Without a firm conviction and more questions than suggestions, I would probably portray Him as others saw Him, a man, yet fulfilling His divine mission throughout His ministry. Without trying to get fancy with video techniques, I would show His Divinity expressed through His humanity as his mission is carried out through the eyes of different witnesses. Beyond that my thoughts are consumed with questions.

paul tan

I would aim to portray the humanity of Jesus, the film being set in the cultural context of the historical narrative. Although this may decrease the inherent distance between the potrayal of Christ in the film and that of the Bible, I believe that it could open up greater dialogue as to the issues that surround the controversy and scandel of the Jesus who is both fully divine and fully human.

I would choose an actor to play the role of Jesus who is middle eastern in appearance, and many of the scenes and screen shots of the film would be quite physical, aiming to bring out the roughness of the of the times, not to mention the trade of a carpenter.

The Jesus I would aim to portray would be an emotional Jesus, willing to show the full spectrum of emotions from ecstatic joy and boisterous laughter, to deep, mellow sadness, to white hot fury. He would be a character who not only emotionally reacts to situations but responds in ways that convey deep-seated emotion.


i would probably portay Jesus Symbolically only to give me the freedom to explore Jesus's humanity more than divinity and how his surrounding culture responds to him and his i makes the film much moe interesting i believe

i really enjoyed Jesus of Montreal so i would not go with the typical middle eastern appearance but let the audience question how Jesus would be treated in another culture and context but with the same loving nature and wisdom...and maybe change his profession (comedian?)that would raise questions..

i think having Jesus too emotional would leave room to question if he suffers from Bi polar or maybe emotional unstatableness.
How about a character that understands and yes does leave room to show emotions aswell but more of a character that not only engages with individuals around him by his nature, but also with the audience.

Autumn H

If I were shooting a film about Jesus, one of the most important factors to be considered would be the intended audience of the film. This would affect how the film was shot, the elements that were emphasized throughout the film. I think it is important as previously said in other comments to portray both his humanity and his deity. I love films that include Jesus as a joyful Jesus, and portray him as a normal human being capable of intelligent normal conversation. I would attempt to make him as relatable as possible, as normal as possible, while at the same time visibly portraying his abstinence from all sin... his miracles, etc. Having said this, there will always be a difference with "Jesus" films as opposed to other films - as he was not just a human person... how can someone adequately shoot a film about Jesus? There has never been a human being capable of fully understanding or knowing him - therefore any film is based upon the individual's view and faith and perception of Jesus - and that in and of itself will be glaringly different for each person, and that is what makes shooting a film of Jesus very difficult. There is also the difficulty of time/writings. we have a limited writing regarding the physical/natural settings of when and where Jesus lived, and thus many of the details are left up to the creativity of the producer of the film.
I think that rather than portraying the film in a modern scenario - i.e. Jesus in Montreal, I would attempt to reproduce Jesus in his natural environment. Even though there are difficulties as mentioned above, I think this is a better option rather than trying to shoot a modern day Jesus, as this is much too open for interpretation might lose the message of the film.
Lastly, I think one of the most important aspects of Jesus's life that I would want to portray would be his relationships with those around him and with His father. I would want to portray him as a highly relational person, and being a discipler and leader in his own world, as well as being highly relational with his Father, and portray his interaction and communication with God the Father. How would I do this? That is a loaded question that I could not answer in one paragraph. I would definitely try to emphasize on the characteristics of Jesus mentioned above, that are the often 'missing' elements of Jesus' life that society often doesn't get. I love the picture that Jesus 'walked among' the people, and I think that would be what I would emphasize in a film - his natural state, as well as his divinity, and his communication with others and his Father.

Neil Castro

I find the ideas so far quite interesting. As with what others have touched on already, how we shoot Jesus will depend on our purpose and what we would want to achieve in the film, as well as the audience we want to reach.
I like the idea of going all out with the special effects, as Matt was saying about modern technology, to illustrate the miracles of Jesus' ministry. I would agree with Paul Tan and Todd Janus in probably looking to portray Jesus in the historical narrative to explore the humanity of Jesus, like what he found humourous, his love for people portrayed a little bit more rather than trying to portray someone who was just on a mission.
On another note, if we shoot Jesus symbollically and focus on how he would minister and love on contemporary society and deal with current issues of today, I'd like to tackle the possibility of how he would be or how he would address the Church that of today.


castro i like your ideas. i found it difficult to decide whether i would shoot Jesus in modern times or in a more historical perspective as they both have their certain things that could be touched on. for example as neil already expressed a more historical perspective could capture how Jesus may actually have felt during those time, as Paul tan mentioned, and i like the idea of a Jesus with emotion. it's the way it should have been all along.
neverthless i would like to shoot Jesus in modern times in perhaps a more literal sense and as neil said, have Jesus adress the church of today. how would he react? what would he feel? what would jesus think?how do people react and deal with his miracles and have people attempting to make rational explainations about them. would jesus perform the same miracles today as he may have in his time?
i suppose i may attempt to answer these quetions in shooting him however my problem is that it would be so difficult to remain objective about the whole thing.

Stephen Wall

There have been some great thoughts put across in the above posts. I agree with Todd and others about a sombre and too often pensive Jesus, one that takes too long to say his words and hardly smiles - however I did a quick search (emphasis on quick), and the scriptures show him as a "man of sorrows", not much laughter was going on in his life that we can see and no mention of a smile crossing his face, and the only time I find the word laugh in the gospels is where Jesus is saying, "those that laugh now, will morn and weep later" or those that “morn now will laugh later”. So would it be right to add stuff to the story. Who knows eh, us Pentecostals seem to do that all the time. :) So... if I were "Shooting" Jesus, how would I do it. If any one has read the space trilogy by C S Lewis which I personally loved as a youth, I think this is how I would probably tackle shooting a story based on the life of Christ and telling the all important message to its current audience... In the trilogy a new planet is set up, made "good", its creation and the creatures that walk its surface sounds amazing... the man has an incredibly creative mind - At first, the people of Perelandra lived in "innocence" but slowly and surely evil is introduced till the hero is sent to make things right. In this way you could show the concepts from the above posts, intertwine the messages, and keep it interesting for a modern audience who is not interested in the “Christ of History” because they have heard the story over and over... at the end as the credits roll, you could say this story is based on the life and mission of Jesus.

Cathrin Pedersen

I liked how Stephen was mentioning Jesus' sorrows. This would be an interesting aspect to explore.. I mean this world is full of sorrows, and Jesus meet us right where we are at.. and I also liked Brittany's thoughts on not potraying any episodes of Jesus, and not even have a Jesus figure. It would be cool to let some up to people's imagination on how he looked like, and honestly, is it really effective with a Jesus figure? To me its not. Jesus is with me everywhere, not physically, but spiritually. But of course His life speaks to me, and what He did. But maybe emphasise, as Brittany said, Jesus' relational aspect and how He works in and through us as a community, how my friend's lives can speak to me about Jesus.
And also, I wouldn't want it to be a fancy smancy production.. Down to earth and relatable. As if I was in the movie and the play right there and then.

Gudrun Sveinsdottir

I think that shooting Jesus is a very hard and a challenging task. How can we as humans give an accurate picture of someone who is both 100% human and 100% divine without leaning more towards one or the other?
In my opinion I think that Mel Gibson did a very great job with his “Passion of the Christ” movie, and if I was shooting Jesus I would probably do something similar, however without some of the catholic aspects of it.
I would try to shoot a Jesus where I take into consideration both his human aspect and his divine. Show his human suffering, emotions and struggles but also his miracles and resurrection. I would want to portray Jesus as closely to my interpretation of the New Testament, where Jesus cries, faces difficulties, is distressed but also joyful, is loving and compassionate. I would try my best to portray both his strong side but also his soft side. But as mentioned earlier, it is impossible for someone to make a “perfect” Christ-movie.

Haakon Skaug

No matter how we do this we will fall short in some way or another. But our goal should be to communicate the story of Christ in a way that people get touched by it. And maybe it is hard to relate to the literal story for todays people. To do it symbolically would probably be the best way to connect with people. Both the CS Lewis approach and Brittany´s idea sounds great. On the other side, how do we communicate the humanity of JC in a true way? I guess it always will be controversial to do that, because in our minds we pull Jesus down to our level by doing it. But as Shane said, that might be the power of it... No matter how uncomfortable it feels for us.

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