2014 is the year of the Bible in Hollywood.
‘Son of God’, the first in a number of Bible-based movies due out this year, has taken the US box office by storm.
Based on a successful TV miniseries, it marks Jesus’ return to the silver screen 10 years after Mel Gibson’s controversial and violent ‘The Passion of Christ’, with the aim of offering a more inclusive approach.
The film is produced by Mark Burnett and his wife, both devout Christians.
Burnett said: “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. Because there’s very different interpretations across the Catholic faith and the Protestant faith and the Jewish faith. So I think we made it all work without making it any less dramatic.”
The advantage with such movies is that they can be marketed easily and cheaply to America's sizeable evangelical Christian community – if they enjoy its leaders approval, as this film did.
Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado plays Jesus.
“For the younger generations to have the opportunity of knowing Jesus apart from the books or whatever they’re reading – if you ask a kid whether they want to see the Bible or read the Bible, they’re definitely going to want to see the Bible,” said Morgado.
Less consensual, big-budget Bible epic ‘Noah’ is due out at the end of March, featuring a star-studded cast including Russell Crowe, Emma Watson and Anthony Hopkins.
The blockbuster has sparked controversy in the Arab World where it has been banned on religious grounds in several countries.
Even in the United States, conservative Christians prompted Paramount Pictures to add a disclaimer to its marketing material saying that “artistic license has been taken” in telling the the story.
Director Darren Aronofsky defended his movie: “I think the oldest stories in the world are classics and they relate to all of us, there is something about the water and there is something about the flood that we all can understand, that’s deep in our souls, it doesn’t matter where you are from on the planet, what religion you are, Noah belongs to everyone.”
British actress Emma Watson plays Ila in the film. She said it is much more than just another Bible-based movie: “On the one hand, it’s this action film and then there’s also this intimate family drama that plays out. It’s also weirdly kind of a road movie, it’s got a bit of everything in it, it’s just really beautifully crafted and really original.”
‘Noah’ and ‘Son of God’ are on worldwide release this spring.
Following in the trend of Bible epics, Ridley Scott’s ‘Exodus’, starring Oscar-nominated British actor Christian Bale, is due out in December.