The Gospels in (Less-Well-Known) Films


I’m a bit of a geek about Jesus/Bible films - well, religious films in general (irrespective of religion). I find biblical films interesting since often they can give you a new perspective, a new way of looking into the text.

In this thread I really want to introduce to you guys some scenes from less-well-known adaptations of the gospels. The simple rule in this thread is: I’m only going to introduce films and such that are not ‘famous’ or which are not major Hollywood productions (foreign films are excepted). So I’m not going to introduce a scene from stuff like King of Kings or The Passion of the Christ.

The first I’d like to introduce is a play by playwright Tony Harrison called The Mysteries, a modern-day adaptation of the medieval English ‘mystery plays’. This particular performance was filmed for TV by the Royal National Theatre in 1985. The Mysteries is subdivided into three parts: The Nativity (from the Creation to the Nativity), The Passion (from the Baptism to the Crucifixion), and Doomsday (from the Resurrection to the Last Judgment). I really recommend watching the whole thing if you’ve got time to spare (the play does some archaized English that does need a bit of being used to, but it’s generally intelligible) - you can find the whole thing on Youtube - but I’d like to point out a couple of scenes in particular.

The first (from The Passion) is the Washing of the Feet / Last Supper sequence.

Peter, unless thou let me wash thy feet
Thou gets no part in bliss with me.


This bread that I do bless and break
It is my corse [body] no common crust.
This beaker’s t’ [cup is the] blood shed for thy sake
And sup of it ilk [every] man you must.

One who hath broke bread with me
Shall me into cumbrance [burden, trouble] cast.
See where I serve this sop - tis he!

Guess what? The play also inserts these Words of Institution during the Emmaus scene.

The second (from Doomsday) is the Resurrection appearances. (The play has an odd order: the descent of the Holy Spirit is inserted between the appearance to Thomas and the actual Ascension.) (Part 1) (Part 2)

Wemmow! Where is this man become,
Right here that sat betwixt us two?

He brake the bread and laid us some.
How might he hence now from us go
At his own list [pleasure]?

It was our Lord, I trow [believe] right so,
And we not wist [knew].


Thomas, for thou hast seen this sight,
That I am risen as I thee hight,
Therefore thou trows. But ilka wight [everyone]
Blessed be they ever
That trows wholly in my rising right
Yet saw it never.

I’ll admit, I loved the rendition of What Wondrous Love is This during the Pentecost sequence (second video, 7:30 onwards). :blush: There’s also a nice bit of symbolism in there: Thomas wears the robe he wore he again as a disciple after meeting the risen Jesus.


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