Bible Videos

downloadDear readers,

Let me wholeheartedly recommend The Lumo Project, “a ground breaking, multi-language biblical film resource” (their words, but true). They have made four feature-length films, one for each Gospel account. The Gospel of John is now available on Netflix.

I first came upon the project while watching the BBC’s The Story of Jesus documentary, which uses visuals from the films alongside scholarly commentary, including from BYU’s Andrew Skinner.

Why I like it:

  • Production values are high. Filmed in Morocco, it looks suitably biblical.
  • Jesus (Salva Rasalingam) is English with Tamil heritage. He is a better Jesus aesthetically than the Anglo-Saxon Jesus we usually see in Bible videos. The History Channel’s Bible series, among others, I’m looking at you.
  • Narrating the four gospels separately is a good move away from harmonisation, which only ever weakens the individual testimony of each evangelist. They filmed the story once, and edited and narrated it differently for each gospel.
  • The background dialogue is suitably Semitic (it’s deliberately not quite clear) which is then overlayed with a narration from the text. The Gospel of John version has it in the NIV, KJV, and Reina-Valera 1960. I am glad they don’t have the actors speaking in English and while I have a special hatred for Bible films which have the actors speak the KJV, narrating it in the KJV is acceptable. The best of the LDS Bible videos–the Good Samaritan–does exactly this. When they have Jesus speak as if he is performing King Lear, it just sounds weird.
  • Narrators include top draw talent such as Brian Cox.

I want two things from Bible videos: either a radical artistic re-imagining (Noah, Last Temptation) where verisimilitude doesn’t matter that much, or reverent, text-based accounts where verisimilitude is top of the list. This project does the latter pretty well.

Watch a clip here.

Comments

  1. Thanks for this! I have very much wanted to enjoy the new LDS movies, but I have also found the 17th century dialogue off-putting. Some of them work alright, but others are very hard to watch. I have been meaning to seek out some better Jesus videos. Thanks for doing that leg work for me!

  2. I watched the Gospel of John segment linked in the OP. This looks good too. I’ll watch for it on netflix.

    This reminds me somewhat of the VHS tapes my parents had when I was a kid. They spoke in a language we couldn’t understand, but had the narration from the KJV laid over top. I loved watching them as a teenager, and always felt a little disappointed when watching the church’s videos in seminary during the late 80’s and early 90’s.

    I think the church has been headed this direction more and more and it is great.

    I did a search to try and find what I watched as a kid, and I’m almost cettain that this is the uncut footage used to make the films. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTb4UIbnOHE

    The angel Gabriel is a dead ringer from my memory (who can forget that glorious fro), but I don’t remember all of extra temple ceremonial shots. I’m going to have to find time to watch it all the way through as well.

  3. Steve,

    That was the “Jesus Project.”

  4. Thanks for bringing these to my attention, RJH. I also go nuts when I see Bible figures speaking KJV language.

    Steve, we had those as well.

  5. >I also go nuts

    Oh, for me, it’s worse than that. I do very bad things when I hear a white Jesus wearing Middle Eastern garb speaking in Elizabethan English.

  6. Speaking of Bible films, I’m just about to watch Jesus of Nazareth (Robert Powell) in a pantomime production of Aladdin.

  7. Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll check it out!

  8. The first few minutes of the Gospel of John constituted our family scripture study tonight. Big thumbs up. Thanks for sharing this, RJH.