Saturday, 22 March 2008

BBC Passion - Good Friday

There were some surprising omissions in this episode - after all the effort to show that Pilate was a somewhat unwilling participant in Jesus' death, they didn't show him washing his hands. Perhaps this was because in the Gospel versions, he then told the Jews that they were responsible for what was to happen - could there have been some politically correct concerns about not offending modern day Jews here? Certainly if you didn't already know the background, you might be hard pushed to identify the people as Jews in this version - as far as I can recall, the word 'Jew' is never mentioned. Jesus is not even accused of being (or calling Himself) the King of the Jews, but the 'King of Judaea'.

During the Crucifixion, Jesus is offered some wine on a sponge before He's actually nailed to the cross - and He refuses it. This was a detail I had not picked up on before, and I thought it was an invention of the director, particularly as the more widely-known account of Jesus saying He is thirsty and being offered a sponge dipped in vinegar is not included. But there it is, in Mark 15:23. I'm still not sure about the exchange that takes place in the film, though - the Roman soldier who offers it to Him says it will be less painful if He is drunk when He dies, and Jesus says words to the effect that He would prefer to die sober.

Some of the Last Words are covered beautifully - I cried when Jesus asked John to look after His Mother (a little more long-winded than "This is your mother", but "This is your son" stayed more or less intact). Others, including His very last words, were omitted altogether.

The episode ended as Jesus took His last breath. I'll be interested to see where it picks up on Sunday. So far, this adaptation has really brought home to me the human side of Jesus - the agony in the Garden, the pain and suffering, the struggle between His desire not to go through that suffering and His desire to do God's Will. Perhaps it has erred too far on the former side, but I think that's a minor quibble. Both mental anguish and physical suffering have been portrayed in a clear and unmistakable way, but without making it into a snuff movie.

I've seen evidence of His suffering, and of His compassion and love, and of the charisma that made the crowds follow Him. Of His divinity, I have seen less. Three of the four Gospels refer to the sky darkening as His death approached - in this adaptation, the sun continues to shine brightly. In fact, the director said in an interview that the actual filming of the Crucifixion scene had to be delayed, because every time they tried to roll the cameras, the clouds rolled in and the sky turned black!

Since the episode finished as He took His last breath, we didn't see the piercing of His side. We didn't see the veil of the Temple being torn, or the earth quaking, or any of the other dramatic events which surrounded Jesus' death in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.

So far, although there are things I would have changed, and things that jarred because they didn't accord with my understanding of the Gospels, I'm still finding this adaptation hugely watchable. More importantly, although there are gaps which I'm filling in by going back to check the Gospels, this series is enhancing my understanding of what Jesus suffered for us.

The final episode will depict the Resurrection. I look forward to hopefully seeing a little more of Jesus' divinity being revealed in this episode.


gemoftheocean said...

A joyful and blessed Easter Season to you!


newhousenewjob said...

Thank you Karen.

leutgeb said...

I have tagged you, but only if you have a mo in between wedding things.

Mac McLernon said...

You've been tagged (knowing my luck, same one as Leutgeb's, but you don't have time to do two!!)

newhousenewjob said...

Aaaah, two identical tags - thanks chaps! No time tonight, but I'll do it soon, I promise...