Mary of Nazareth (2012) movie review

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Impressions

Good casting, costumes, scenery (Tunisia).

"Danger, Will Robinson, danger!" Audiences brought up on the visual arts may substitute the aesthetic decisions made by the producers for attentive reading of the gospels. That is bad.

The conflation of Mary Magdalene with all the other repentant women in the gospels is, for me, one of the most questionable elements of the film--not to mention placing her in the harem of Herod the Great as well as of his son, Herod Antipas (if I understood what I saw)!

I also very much disliked the invention of a devil-incarnate character, the devil-woman, who also seems to have been in both harems, as well as being the wife of Herod Antipas' brother along the way.

I nearly shouted out when Pilate announced that the custom was to release a prisoner "at Easter time"! "Easter" had no meaning in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, or Latin until some long time after the resurrection. The proper word would be "Passover."

Bird songs and crickets from temperate climates rather than a semi-arid climate.

No institution of the Eucharist.

No rending of the Temple veil during Matthew's earthquake. Instead, we get a strange dialogue between the supernaturally young devil woman and her servant.

Utterly unhistorical hilltop used for "the place of the Skull." Photogenic distribution of the crosses--making the dialogue with the good thief impossible.

No direct prophecies of the Passion by Jesus.

Mary never ages. Far too young at the end of Jesus' life! Same with Mary Magdalene, if she is portrayed as being in Herod the Great's harem along with the devil-woman.

The love between Joseph and Mary is good. Good depiction of his frustrations as he recognizes and accepts his vocation to be Jesus and Mary's guardian.

Hated the depiction of Gabriel. Woman's body, man's voice.

Mary with the sheep--ridiculous scene! There is nothing on that stony ground for the sheep to eat. If she was tending them, she was doing a very bad job. Moreover, young girls never would have been all alone with a flock in Palestine. Young boys, yes--shepherds' sons--but not young girls.

Legend of her consecration as a Temple virgin depicted, but not explained at all. Nice re-connection with Simeon--imaginative, not Scriptural, but not inconceivable.

Jesus should have given Mary Magdalene his cloak. He also should never have been alone with her. Where were his disciples?

No Roman would sentence Mary Magdalene to death, then leave the execution in the hands of a mob. Awful writing.

The seashore scenes are ridiculous, unscriptural, and unnecessary. Complete invention to create dramatic foreshadowing of the Pietà.

Standard, predictable harmonization of Matthew and Luke. Probably unavoidable for a pious audience. What else can you do?

Ridiculous number of horses! So photogenic (and audiogenic), but utterly unhistorical. Uncritical movie memes.

Less awful than the Jesus film derived from the TV show, The Bible, which has too many closeups of Mary with the same expression of agony on her face. In this portrait, Mary expresses much more faith, understanding, and cooperation with Jesus.

Cana: close, but no cigar. Softened the dialogue between Jesus and Mary.

The exposition of the two trials is poor. The issue in the Jewish trial is blasphemy--Jesus made Himself equal to God in answer to the question of the High Priest. The issue in the Roman trial is rebellion against the Roman Empire--"Christ" had a very definite political and military meaning to the Jews and to the Romans. In both trials, the court had good reasons to sentence Jesus to death. The nature of Jesus Kingship could not be understood until AFTER His resurrection from the dead!

Just whispering "Barabbas" to the crowd is not enough. What reason should we give for the crowd's preference? Barabbas was a better rebel than Jesus--a better candidate for a militaristic "Christ."

Moviemakers love to show Jesus being scourged again while carrying the cross. The Romans would have known that the blows of the scourge would weaken Jesus, not motivate him to carry the Cross!

INRI over the cross--awful! Very "Catholic," but totally unhistorical and unscriptural.

Where did Mary get the water to bathe Jesus on that desert rock? It is a touching scene, of course, but ridiculous, given the distance from that stony mount to any nearby well.

At least some of the disciples should have shown disbelief when Mary Magdalene announced the Resurrection. In John's gospel, Mary Magdalene saw Jesus AFTER Peter and John had visited the empty tomb. No dialogue with the angels in the tomb. She would have known that they came from above because she was there with the disciples outside the entrance to the tomb. They saw nobody. She saw two angels in white.