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Saturday, 31 January 2015

Jesus novels & films: The Greatest Story Ever Told

Stuart Kelly reviews the latest Jesus novel - The Tongues of Men or Angels by Jonathan Trigell - in today's Guardian and, in the process, provides a neat little summary of the genre:

'Given it has been called The Greatest Story Ever Told, the temptation to retell it is understandable. Except under special circumstances, it also ought to be resisted strenuously. For every Paradise Regained by John Milton, The Monarch by Sir David Lyndsay or Behold the Man by Michael Moorcock, there are misconceived works such as Norman Mailer’s The Gospel According to the Son, Anne Rice’s Christ the Lord books and even Philip Pullman’s The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ (Pullman was so much better at untelling the Bible than retelling it). There have been a remarkable number of fictional Jesuses in recent years – from Colm Toíbín, Naomi Alderman, Michel Faber, JM Coetzee, Jim Crace, Richard Beard (whose Lazarus Is Dead was remarkable). But that’s not so surprising given that Robert Graves, Gore VidalAnthony Burgess, José Saramago, Jorge Luis Borges, Mikhail Bulgakov and even Jeffrey Archer have all had a crack of this particular whip.'

Jordan Hoffman says of the latest Jesus movie, Last Days in the Desert starring Ewan McGregor as both Jesus and the shadowy personification of a taunting Satan, 'is a smart and beautiful meditation of fathers and sons (and the Father and Son) that is slow but never boring':

'On the spectrum of Jesus movies this belongs closer to Pasolini’s Gospel According to Matthew than, say, Nicholas Ray’s King of Kings, at least in its ascetic aesthetic. Certainly more than the recent wretched Mark Burnett and Roma Downey production Son of God. The off-book exploration will, I think, be of value to believers, but that’s an issue for the film’s marketing department. As an artwork about a man with a calling, the rich, hazy time spent in the desert certainly inspires.'


Larry Norman - The Outlaw.

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