Rise in Biblical Movies

Posted on December 12, 2014 by


Ever since the release of The Passion of the Christ in 2004, there seems to be an increase in movies drawing on inspiration from the Bible. The Passion of the Christ sits proudly at number 25 in the highest grossing movies of all time; it raked in over three hundred and seventy million dollars in the box office. This provides a pretty good safety net for the Hollywood movie makers, and so in recent years we have see hits such as Son of God, Noah, and most recently, Exodus with a new movie entitled Mary scheduled to come out, appropriately, before Christmas.

One would think that Christians everywhere would be ecstatic that their holy book is becoming available to the public in the new presentation of film, but actually this is far from the truth. There are many reasons that Christians are wary of the Bible on the silver screen. The first is that actors who play in these roles may be criticized for their faith rather than praised for taking on a heroic role. The second is that many of the films are not presented correctly from an ethnic stand point which could push many towards viewing Christians as racists. Lastly, and most importantly, is that Christians are concerned that the Biblical stories are being twisted and skewed.

For years after playing Jesus in The Passion of the Christ Jim Caviezel could not get get another job as an actor; he Caviexel as Jesusclaims that it was because of the role he played in the controversial film. The film was labeled as offensive and anti-Semitic because of the way it portrayed the Jews abusing, and ultimately killing, Jesus. In a world where race is still a huge discriminating factor, this was, and still is a risky move. Christians are nervous that actors may be labeled certain ways after their roles in upcoming films just as Caviezel was because that is the precedent that was set.

Race is a big issue when casting a movie in the Old Testament. The actual Israelites were from Mesopotamia and Exodushave a complexion similar to the Arab people, rather than white actors that many people have grown to except in American film.  The recent film Exodus has what many people call a “whitewashed cast.” Egyptians and Israelites alike are played by white actors. Christian Bale himself plays Moses which is a casting that in and of its self may cause people to raise eyebrows. Christians don’t want to be viewed as racists simply because Hollywood portrays Biblical stories with incorrect races.

The main reason that Christians are concerned with the sudden interest in Hollywood interpretations of Bible stories is the fact that these stories may be twisted by the media. This was certainly the case in the recent movie of Noah. The film included many characters that were either elaborated characters based on names found in lineages or simply made up. For instance, Nubal-Cain was listed as a name merely once in the Bible, and there was never any reference to him in Noah’s story. Yet, he is a main antagonist in the film. And God, the focus of all of the Bible, is hardly mentioned at all. The inaccuracy gives outsiders to the Bible huge misconceptions as to what Christians believe.

This is particularly concerning when it comes the most recent film release, Exodus. The story is touchy enough, what with a plague that kills the firstborn of every unbeliever in Egypt, without possible errors due to the attempt to add more action simply for the sake of entertainment and the probability of the story being taken out of context. Lead actor Christian Bale describes Moses as barbaric and schizophrenic which is far from how he is portrayed in the larger biblical context. If the man playing Moses does not showcase him as the Bible does, the rest of the movie can only go down from there biblically speaking.

Christians are concerned that as more and more Biblical movies are released, the more misconstrued they will become. The more misconstrued they become, the harder it will be for outsiders to the Bible to understand what they actually believe. So, is the rise in Biblical movies a good thing or a bad thing for Christians? You tell me. 

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