Last week (Holy Week), BBC One had broadcasted a four-episode program called The Passion, with Joseph Mawle in the lead role, James Nesbitt as Pilate and Ben Daniels as Caiaphas.
Has anyone here seen this? If so, what do you think of it?
(Note: If you are in the UK, you can view the episodes from the official website under the ‘Episode Guide’ page, or so I’ve heard. For the rest, here is the 1st part of episode 1 in Youtube. The episode begins around the 1: 47 mark. You can search for the rest from there)
Yeah I watched it. I didn’t hold out much hope on the program and on that level I wasn’t disappointed. It cast Mary as against God’s plan, refusing to accept the Divine Will, it showed a sympathetic light on the role of Judas, Caiaphas and Pilate. It wasn’t a great program overall.
The casting of Nesbitt as Pilate was awful, the guy talks with the same broad Irish accent in every role he plays, including here. It just didn’t work.
That was actually one of the controversies that followed the production (another one is how the filmmakers depicted the crucifixion, or more specifically where the nails went)
Please note that the paragraphs below may contain spoilers
Caiaphas didn’t really strike me as being portrayed in a sympathetic light (in one sense). If I can beg to differ, his portrayal is at least quite realistic here; His decision to have Jesus die is given a more concrete reason: He is concerned about the future of his family, namely his wife and (yet-unborn) son, should the people hail Jesus King and the Romans stoop down and exterminate the people. (This has got to be the first time that Caiaphas’ family appears in a Jesus film, despite the mention of Annas as his father-in-law in the Gospel of John)
By contrast, at Mel’s the Passion (which is one of my favorites), Caiaphas is almost depicted as such that one not versed in the Gospels might watch ang get puzzled as to why he wants Jesus to die so badly (obviously Mel can’t include John 1: 49-52, but still)
. Perhaps this is where the claims of Antisemitism against the film started?
Pilate’s heavy Irish accent is a bit difficult to follow, I can agree with that. At least I’ve learned another accent in the English language.
As for Mary’s portrayal, I’ve yet to see it (I’m watching the episodes out of order) but I’m quite divided on her portrayal on Calvary. On one hand, her reaction seems to be quite overdone (she almost screams when she finds Jesus crucified) yet on the other, I can’t see why a mother would not act like such when she suddenly sees her kid dying a slow death (the ‘mothering instinct’, I mean).
I do have some quibbles with the production, though:
-Jesus is hailed, not as ‘King of the Jews’ nor ‘King of the Judeans’ but as the ‘King of Judea’ (the placard above Jesus’ head even says ‘Rex Iudaeae’ instead of ‘Rex Iudaeorum’). Does Judea here mean the Roman province of Iudaea or merely the southern part of the country called Judea (excluding Samaria and Galilee). If the latter meaning is meant, why would a Galilean be hailed as King of a different region from where he came from?
-Out of the Seven Last Words:
‘Father forgive them’
‘Woman behold your Son…’
‘Why hast thou forsaken me?’
'Into thy hands I commend my spirit’
made it into the film (plus a few additions), though the Good Thief’s plea is included, which is (oddly) seemingly ignored by Jesus (who instead recites ‘Father, forgive them’)
-At the Last Supper after the Words of the Institution, Jesus says: ‘This will be a Sacrament; when I’m gone, this is how you bring Me back among you.’ (perhaps a variation on ‘Whenever you do these things, do this in remembrance of me?’ )
I don’t know if this is compatible with our Catholic belief (is it?) though there is another nice touch where the Disciples are actually shown to not understand these words (even saying it directly to Jesus, to which Jesus merely repeats that that is His body and that they should eat it) and even arguing how the bread and wine can become Jesus’ body and blood.