The Gospel Of John

on September 26, 2003 by Susan Green
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Although Mel Gibson's "The Passion" continues to stir controversy, "The Gospel of John" has quietly emerged as what could well be the Jew-bashing movie of the year. The drama by Philip Saville ("Metroland") presents a literal adaptation of the Good News Bible that's surely bad news for the ethnic group often accused of killing Christ.

The repetitious "Gospel" depicts Jesus (Henry Ian Cusick) recruiting disciples and endlessly preaching about his divine birthright. A Roman official, Pontius Pilate (Stephen Russell), wants to spare the charismatic Messiah; the Jewish Pharisees and a wild-eyed mob of their followers demand crucifixion. Yet the production notes insist "Gospel" is not anti-Semitic. Despite its apparently Bible Belt-focused release strategy, the film might actually alienate the faithful thanks to a plodding pace. Delivered with God-like authority by Christopher Plummer, the narration consistently describes mundane details already evident on screen: "He knelt down before Jesus," for example, just after a beggar kneels down before Jesus. Oy vey. Starring Henry Ian Cusick, Daniel Kash, Steven Russell and Richard Lintern. Narrated by Christopher Plummer. Directed by Philip Saville. Written by John Goldsmith. Produced by Garth H. Drabinsky and Chis Chrisafis. A Thinkfilm release. Biblical drama. Rated PG-13 for violence involving the crucifixion. Running time: 180 min

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