Yep, the title really is that long. The movie is also fairly long clocking in at 2 hours and 40 minutes. But let’s face it, to give this subject matter it’s due requires some time. There have been many films made about Christ and this is not the longest. Yet this is perhaps one of, if not the best.
I don’t believe I’ve seen every film made about Christ’s time in this world, but I have seen a great many. The one that has always stood out for me is Jesus Of Nazareth, a 1977 made for television epic. Not only does it feature an all-star cast, fabulous cinematography, excellent directing and superb acting, but it’s also one of the most accurate.
The Gospel of John: New International Version takes such a fresh and unique approach that it places up at the top of my list alongside Jesus Of Nazareth. The Gospel of John features the same level of excellent cinematography, directing and acting, but that’s where similarities end.
The cast, with a few exceptions, are all mostly unknown and seem to be citizens of that area of the world. Their skin is of a dark olive coloring. They have dark hair and brown eyes. This may seem trivial or picky, however nothing screams “phoney!” to the subconscious more than a close-up gaze into Max von Sydow’s baby blues in The Greatest Story Ever Told.
The dialogue of the cast is in Aramaic according to the summary on IMDB. Not speaking the language myself I can’t verify this, but it is convincing. It’s also a nice touch as Aramaic was one of the common languages at that time. And before thinking “oh, this is a sub-captioned foreign film, no thanks”, have no fear it is not. Which brings me to the truly unique thing about this film, which I’m not quite sure how to aptly describe.
The acting and dialogue are a backdrop to actor David Harewood reading The Gospel of John (in English), from beginning to end, straight from the NIV.
Take a moment to reflect on this.
It IS The Gospel of John. In it’s entirety. Nothing more or less. Nothing added. No dialogue that someone ‘may’ have said to get from one scene to another. Of course there is the actor dialogues which I, and perhaps you, don’t understand. For all I know they might also be speaking from the same text. Their dialogue is mostly in the background and not at all distracting from the reading of Scripture.
It’s completely absorbing.
I must add that I did not read along with the Movie. I say it’s straight from John based on having read it several times myself, and also what others have written. I plan to watch it again and read along. If I find something different I’ll update this review.
I must also add, unlike many newer releases, including Jesus Of Nazareth, the crucifixion is portrayed quickly and tastefully. Christ’s suffering is depicted but mostly leading to the cross. I know many cannot bear to watch the more life-like portrayals such as in The Passion of the Christ, which is brutal, yet possibly still falls short of the actual punishment Christ suffered for us. Children or those with a gentle heart can watch The Gospel of John because of how it’s handled and I don’t believe not demonstrating the harsh crucifixion detracts from the message.
The Gospel of John was released on Dec. 1, 2014 so it’s possible many have not yet seen it. It’s been on Netflix for a while and I’ve had it in my queue for a couple of months. If you subscribe to Netflix look this one up. If you don’t and are a Christian, this is worth the price of admission. If you are not a Christian but have questions about the faith, PLEASE watch this. Not only is it a very well done movie, it’s straight from the Word of GOD. If you still have questions after watching, please leave a comment here.