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Son of God' takes different tack than 'Passion



By RYAN PEARSON

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Ten years after "The Passion of the Christ," Jesus is returning to movie theatres with a gentler, more inclusive approach.

"Son of God," spun out of the hugely successful "The Bible" miniseries, plays up the political maneuvering that led to the crucifixion. It won an endorsement from the Anti-Defamation League's Abraham Foxman, one of the Jewish leaders who denounced Mel Gibson's 2004 blockbuster "Passion."

"Clearly we were aware of the controversy that had been created around that film," actress and executive producer Roma Downey said in a recent interview. "If everything begins with intention, our heart on 'Son of God' was to find the places that we could bring people together."

Gibson famously self-financed and distributed his ultra-violent "Passion" in 2004. It became a box office hit but was criticized by some reviewers and religious leaders for its depiction of Jews.

Downey's husband, "The Voice" and "Survivor" producer Mark Burnett, said the Christian filmmaking team reached out specifically to other faiths to tell the story of the life of Jesus - played with an air of bemused dignity by Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado - without causing offense.

"It just took a lot of work and a lot of time and a lot of listening over a number of years to see everybody's point of view and how to not take the teeth out of the story - the dynamic drama from the story - but be sensitive across groups," Burnett said. "Because there's very different interpretations across the Catholic faith and the Protestant faith and the Jewish faith."

Using footage shot during production of History Channel's ten-part miniseries "The Bible," the film being released Friday spends much of its final half examining maneuvering by Jerusalem's military governor, Pontius Pilate, and Judean high priest Caiaphas.

"It's like 'House of Cards' in many ways," Burnett said. "They're all humans living their lives ... Pilate is scared of Caesar and what Rome might do. Caiaphas is scared of Pilate and losing the whole temple and their faith. It's a real political thriller with tension which explodes at Passover in Jerusalem."

Burnett credits his miniseries, which garnered strong ratings and broke DVD and Blu-ray sales records last year, with this year's flurry of biblical films from major Hollywood studios.

"You've got to believe that the enormity of 'The Bible' series had other biblical productions speed up," he said.

Darren Aronofsky's take on "Noah," starring Russell Crowe, is coming next month, and Ridley Scott's "Exodus," with Christian Bale, is due out in December.

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imv February 28 2014 at 2:39 PM

I have a problem with the explanation of this movie. The Bible does not depict this era as "poltical", insofar as Jesus deliberately encouraging the Jews to stand up for themselves and cause an upheaval of an army. Jesus told the truth, peaceful words as his Father taught Him. It was Ceasar who made it into something "poltical" and hated what Jesus stood for, which made the Jewish slaves stronger to free themselves.

House of Cards??! come on now. You are comparing the money grubbing, lying Washington DC
politicians with the activities in Jesus time?

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2 replies
savedbygrace1955 imv February 28 2014 at 2:44 PM

I was told the devil being casted out will not be in this movie because the actor looked too much like president obama? true or false?

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Lucy imv February 28 2014 at 4:37 PM

Actually, you're wrong. What Jesus taught went against the Pharisees and the High Priests of the times. It was very political and went against their hard core beliefs. What he was preaching was totally different. Way out of the box!

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qsfoxx29306 February 28 2014 at 2:38 PM

I wonder what he would say if He saw "Secrets of the Vatican" on PBS. Like his rage at the money changers in the temple, the beasts of the Vatican would have a lot to be worried about.

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interactivecoach February 28 2014 at 2:26 PM

When "Jesus" looks Semetic rather than aryan/wasp ( Jim Cazaveil??) then they'll be on the right track.

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jc.ryan1 February 28 2014 at 2:38 PM

It will have to be pretty darn good to beat out the greatest Jesus movie ever: King of Kings!

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2 replies
GEN jc.ryan1 February 28 2014 at 2:40 PM

oh you are so right

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Sally jc.ryan1 February 28 2014 at 2:54 PM

Jesus of Nazareth ! What my mine thinks he will look like, dumb huh, but Jeffery Hunter was great for that time period.

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Kimberly February 28 2014 at 2:36 PM

I'm looking forward to seeing this movie!

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Curtis February 28 2014 at 2:39 PM

I'm not sure why some of the Jewish people got upset at "The Passion of the Christ", nor do I understand why such an effort was made to be "acceptable" by most in this film. True, it's not a documentary, but there's nothing wrong with the truth as long as it is the truth. It was, in fact, the Jews that beat and crucified Jesus and to deny that is an affront to what the Bible teaches. That doesn't mean today's Jews are the same as those who crucified Him any more than I, as a Caucasian man, am the same as those who held and owned slaves. Everyone is just too super sensitive, and we worry so much about not offending that many times we lose the truth. Politicians use this as an excuse for pretty much not facing the truth on anything.

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4 replies
bananagravel2 February 28 2014 at 2:35 PM

Awesome!

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tokobali February 28 2014 at 2:41 PM

So what author Pearson is saying is that this movie is based upon the story of Jesus as it doesn't offend anyone today, am I understanding him correctly? What possible purpose can this story have, other than entertainment? None. Hopefully, those watching it will understand the bias "to not offend." If you want about as accurate a picture of the life of Jesus as I've seen in my 65 years, read the trilogy Mary/The Nazarine/The Apostle, by Sholem Asch. It'll put you there, and you'll better understand what it was like to be Mary, Joseph, and the environment in which all this took place.

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2 replies
netecutli tokobali February 28 2014 at 2:51 PM

While it is purely for entertainment, the holier-than-thou are desperate for validation of their delusion, so if it is in the movie to them, it is real.

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adamsleretired tokobali February 28 2014 at 3:04 PM

As I understand from reading the Bible and history many people were offended by The Christ. Like it or not it was the Jews who were the most offended. Rome was not so much offended as they were afraid of unrest among the Jews being stirred up by The Christ. It was the Jews such as Caiaphas who were afraid their plush world would come down and they would lose their wealth and status who were determined to have Jesus eliminated. Seems a shame that everyone today has so little self esteem that they are offended by every little thing someone else does. When you rewriter history to make sure no one is offended by some small slight then you are making history a false narrative which will not let anyone truly learn about the past.

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SenoritaBella62 February 28 2014 at 2:37 PM

They should have more movies like this on TV. I really miss the Ten Commandments, Ben Hurr, The greatest Story ever told ,etc....etc. Bring Christ back to America.

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2 replies
GEN SenoritaBella62 February 28 2014 at 2:40 PM

i agree 100%

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Larry SenoritaBella62 February 28 2014 at 2:59 PM

Remember that the next time you vote.

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cabinsmoke February 28 2014 at 2:26 PM

This should detonate the heads of the "tolerant' and "embracing".

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