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Diego Morgado in ‘Son of God’Image: Casey Crafford / Twentieth Century Fox

Diego Morgado in ‘Son of God’

The film also muddies rather than clarifies the roles of Pilate and Caiaphas in seeking Jesus's crucifixion. The film's tagline is "Their empire. His kingdom." That would suggest a socio-political emphasis, but the film foregrounds the conflicts with ruling Jewish elders to such an extent that the Romans come across as their police force rather than their rulers. And Son of God begins and ends with John on Patmos, but the order of scenes and the inclusion of post-crucifixion scenes make it feel more like it's drawn from Luke's gospel.

Will any one of those quibbles, or the sum of them, bother the film's target audience enough to keep them from going? I doubt it. To the extent that the script is at all an exegesis, producer Mark Burnett has repeatedly said he wanted The Bible miniseries to be first and foremost a proclamation of God's love and Jesus's deity. It is hard to criticize a Jesus film that gets those two messages right, regardless of what media is used to deliver them.

Caveat Spectator

The depictions of Jesus being scourged and later crucified is bloody and disturbing, though nowhere near as explicit as the whipping scene in 12 Years a Slave or the R-rated The Passion of the Christ. The film depicts violence in a style more in keeping with (American) television than film, by depicting the aftermath more prominently than the act itself. Even so, torture and crucifixion are inherently disturbing acts to watch, regardless of how explicitly they are shown, and parental discretion is, as always, recommended.

Kenneth R. Morefield is an Associate Professor of English at Campbell University. He is the editor of Faith and Spirituality in Masters of World Cinema, Volumes I & II, and the founder of 1More Film Blog.

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