The Gospel Of John Digital
DVD + Digital
The Gospel of John is the first-ever filmed version of the biblical text as it was actually written. Using the original Jesus narrative as its script word for word this profound and stunning film sheds new light on one of history's most sacred texts. Beautifully shot, wonderfully performed, and informed by the latest theological, historical, and archaeological research, this film is something to be enjoyed and treasured.
This DVD includes THREE different biblical text translations: Holy Bible-New International Version, King James Bible, Reina-Valera 1960 (Spanish).
Includes 30 minutes of behind-the-scenes specials!
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Voicing the script: This version sticks to the translation with no deviation, and one person reads the entire text. He does an excellent job (NIV). The tone is often serious, with deep conviction. The VB stays quite close to their translation (TEV), but the actors speak their parts, so the VB is easier to follow and has a wider range of expression.
What we see: In this version, the camera concentrates heavily on Jesus; we are often close to him as he interacts with someone. This gives intensity to the story. The screen is often relatively dark. There is lots of desert scenery. (Could this be symbolic? -- He came to his own (creation) but his own (people) did not accept him.) The VB version gives the impression of a more livable countryside, a land which could support grazing, grain, figs and grapes. Clear differences in costume make it easier to follow some characters in the VB (Mary Magdalene).
Acting: In this version, Jesus is serious and rather intense. I like it very much indeed. Some people prefer the smiling Jesus of the VB version. The VB version is full of white faces, which is a huge disadvantage. But some of the scenes work better in VB. For instance, the Samaritan woman shows the wear and tear of her life, and she communicates well. There are some really memorable moments in the VB version (the soldier who snarls "Jesus of Nazareth," or Thomas's grief when the resurrected Lord appears to him). Overdone, perhaps, but hard to forget. I love the last scene at the beach (Jesus, Peter, and John).
A few details: The VB seems to have drawn on wider consultation, and on research which if not greater was certainly different (e.g. music). The VB goes out of its way to prevent misinterpretation which could feed antisemitism. This version, reading straight through the NIV text, does not bring out the footnote to John 1:19 which states that in John's gospel the term "the Jews" refers to the those Jewish leaders who opposed Jesus. But the NIV translation handles the problem well, and so does the visual part of this movie.
To sum up, this version givens an impression of closeness, authenticity and seriousness. It is one element in a very large project. The VB is more clear and pleasing, and has more professional polish. It is part of the Visual Bible series, but it is made to unusually high standards.
These observations are based on memory, not recent review. Correction and comment would be very welcome.
None of this is helped by eschewing competitor Visual Bible's much more savvy presentation of Jesus/the actor speaking to other actors in interactive scenes. But in _this_ franchise, not only is the Gospel text narrated, but so are Jesus's own pseudo-Aramaic words. The actor himself never lingually engages anyone, and unlike Gibson's "Passion", there is no direct translation. Just a droning narration that overshadows everything Jesus says.
Worse - and most subjective of all - this Jesus simply does not cut it. He's too angry, irritable, dour...and he has the worst hair of any Jesus film actor I have ever seen. I never liked so many Greek Orthodox Christ icons because in so many of them, he appears to be snarling, angry, grim, and judgmental. Just like this film's Jesus. When a film's central character and central actor behaves in a way that is so "un-Christlike" by any normative standard one might wish to apply, it turns out to be a dud. An expensively-produced dud.
I especially like the fact that this presentation is more correctly described as a visual accompaniment to the complete, narrated text of John’s gospel, not so much a dramatization. It will have a regular place in my devotional life.
I like this so much I’m curious about others in this series.