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 ‘Ben Hur’, Christ’s figure is shown, but never his face

In Pasolini's 'The Gospel According to Matthew', Christ is short, energetic, dynamic

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

‘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 of Montreal’ partly succeeds in portraying a Jesus who is integrated with the modern world

Jesus at the Last Supper

Jesus at the Last Supper

Pontius Pilate presents Jesus to the crowd  Two stills from Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of the Christ'

Pontius Pilate presents Jesus to the crowd
Two stills from Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of the Christ’

What a wonderful photograph by Michael Belk

What a wonderful photograph by Michael Belk

Michael Belk, 'Journeys with the Messiah- The Second Mile'

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'

Michael Belk, ‘Journeys with the Messiah – Gone Astray’

Some modern images of Mary of Nazareth

Mary of Nazareth in 'The Passion of the Christ'

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

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.

An other-worldly statue of Mary by Robert Graham  at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles

An other-worldly statue of Mary by Robert Graham
at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles

The cathedral website describes the statue thus:

‘The 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 does not wear the traditional veil. Her arms are bare, outstretched to welcome all. Her carriage is confident, and her hands are strong, the hands of a working woman.
From the side can be seen a thick braid of hair down her back that summons thoughts of Native American or Latina women. Other characteristics, such as her eyes, lips and nose convey Asian, African and Caucasian features. Without the conventional regal trappings of jewels, crown or layers of clothing, she has a dignity that shines from within.’

Mary in Franco Zeffirelli's film 'Jesus of Nazareth'

Mary in Franco Zeffirelli’s film ‘Jesus of Nazareth’

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Jesus Christ
Modern images of Jesus and Mary
Birth of Jesus