By box office standards, JESUS was a bust when it released in 1979, earning a mere $4 million. But since then, it has gone on to become arguably the most watched film in movie history, with over 6 billion viewings (including repeated viewings) in less than three decades.

Further, from an eternal perspective, it's one of the most important films in history, having resulted in more than 221 million decisions for Christ, according to Campus Crusade, whose founder, the late Bill Bright, was behind the film's development, always intending for it to become a means of leading people to Jesus. The movie has been translated into more than 1,000 languages, and Rick Warren suggests that it is "the most effective evangelistic tool ever invented."

The JESUS Film Project has about 200 translations to go in order to reach the goal of dubbing the film into every language spoken by groups of more than 100,000 people, and staff members are working diligently to that end.

But in the meantime, a new version of the film was conceived that would offer not a new language, but a new perspective. The working title was JESUS for Women, and the idea was to combine select footage from the original movie with new scenes in order to emphasize Jesus' compassion for women. The resulting film, Magdalena: Released from Shame, was released in several countries in 2007 and became available in America on March 8, 2008 (International Women's Day).

The film, narrated by Mary Magdalene (Rebecca Ritz), opens in 40 A.D. with a conversation about Jesus between the title character and two skeptical friends. Mary Magdalene promises to explain who he was (and is) and what he means to her (and to them); she spends the rest of the film doing just that. Most of the movie consists ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.