Jesus and Mary in modern movies and artworks
People often think of Jesus as serene and admired by all. This was not so. Jesus was challenging, and he was hated by many upper-class leaders. Modern movies and artworks try to give a balanced view of Jesus, showing him as wise, strong, and unflinchingly courageous, but also controversial.
In 'Ben Hur', Christ's figure is shown, but never his face
In Pasolini's 'The Gospel According to Matthew', Christ is short, energetic, dynamic
'The Greatest Story Ever Told' has Christ as an other-worldly figure, part human, part divine
'Jesus of Montreal' partly succeeds in portraying a Jesus who is integrated with the modern world
Jesus at the Last Supper
Pontius Pilate presents Jesus to the crowd
Two stills from Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of the Christ'
a wonderful photograph by Michael Belk:
Michael Belk, 'Journeys with the Messiah: The Second Mile'
The photographer Michael Belk has departed from tradition by showing an informal Jesus who laughs, argues, talks one-to-one. This is a major innovation, and a welcome one. Try to think of past paintings or images that show Jesus laughing - they are rare, if they exist at all.
Michael Belk, 'Journeys with the Messiah: Gone Astray'
Prints of these three photographs are available at
Michael Belk's website: Journeys with the Messiah
Some modern images of Mary of Nazareth
Mary of Nazareth in 'The Passion of the Christ'
Very few images of Mary show the lines and wrinkles of an aging Jewish peasant woman. Later sequences in the movie 'The Passion of the Christ' (see above) capture the mature Mary.
Statue of Mary by David Wynne, Ely Cathedral
Here is a figure full of energy: hands, feet and hair all suggest movement. This is a vigorous, beautiful Mary, hands raised to heaven, feet stepping into the future.
other-worldly statue of Mary by Robert Graham
The cathedral website describes the statue thus:
ornamental space above the pair of bronze doors contains the 8 foot image of Our
Lady of the Angels. The modern figure is presented as a woman “clothed with
the sun, with the moon under her feet” (Revelations 12:1). The halo shaft
above her head shines God’s light on her as the sun travels from east to west.
Mary in Franco Zeffirelli's film 'Jesus of Nazareth'
Our Lady of the Southern Cross, by Paul Newton
painting adapts itself to the Southern Hemisphere: the landscape behind
'Kissing the Face of God', by Morgan Weistling
The Annunciation, by John Collier
And now for
something completely different: Mary as a schoolgirl in sneakers, startled
as well she might be by the appearance of an angel on her doorstep. Only
the lilies and the angel's wings tell us
Bible Art: Modern Paintings, Photographs and Films showing Jesus of Nazareth and his mother Mary
Copyright 2012 Elizabeth Fletcher